Translations of ‘-ly’ adverbs of degree in an English-Spanish Parallel Corpus

Noelia Ramón and Belén Labrador

This paper focuses on the translations of English -ly adverbs of degree into Spanish. The English suffix -ly has been traditionally associated with the expression of manner. However, it also actualises other meanings, in particular degree. In Spanish, the formal equivalents of -ly adverbs are adverbs ending in -mente, but the latter occur less frequently and with different pragmatic nuances. Adverbs of degree can be translated into -mente adverbs but also into other resources such as non -mente adverbs, prepositional phrases, adjectives, etc. The aim is to establish a taxonomy of translation solutions extracted from a parallel corpus in order to reveal cross-linguistic correspondences useful in translator training and translation quality assessment.

Table of contents

This paper is an account of a corpus-based analysis of the translations from English into Spanish of some adverbs of degree. “Expressions of degree are conspicuous elements in human communication” (Paradis 1997: 9), and from a cross-linguistic perspective degree has recently raised much interest too (Klein 1998). As far as the language pair English-Spanish is concerned, the translation of grading expressions is particularly problematic. One of the typical resources for expressing degree in English is -ly adverbs, such as greatly, highly, extremely. There is a formally similar resource available in Spanish, in the form of -mente adverbs for expressing grading functions. However, there are other more frequent and idiomatic expressions of degree in Spanish, in particular other adverbs not ending in -mente, prepositional phrases (PPs), adjectival constructions, etc. (Hoye 1997).

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