When Contrastive Analysis meets Translation Studies: A historical perspective

Xin Shang


Contrastive Analysis and Translation Studies began to merge in the late 1990s through the bridging role of corpus linguistics. This corpus-driven, contrastive-analysis approach to Translation Studies now faces several challenges including the inappropriate use of corpora, a disconnect in the logical relationship between Contrastive Analysis and Translation Studies, and the potential for distorted results caused by translational data. To overcome these difficulties, this article proposes an alternative approach called the corpus-tested Contrastive Analysis approach to Translation Studies, which draws on the typical empirical cycle of observation, induction, deduction, testing, and evaluation. The alternative approach proposed in this article requires both comparable corpora and translational corpora to account for key aspects of Contrastive Analysis and Translation Studies, and ensures the internal logical connection between these two areas, which can be attributed to the entailment law ‘if p, then q’.

Publication history
Table of contents

Translation Studies (TS) originated with the work of Jakobson (1959), Nida (1964), Catford (1965), Hatim and Mason (1990), and Hatim (1997), among many others, giving rise to the linguistics-oriented approach to TS. Starting in the 1990s, a number of other approaches to TS emerged, including Descriptive Translation Studies (DTS), proposed by Toury (1995); culturally oriented TS, developed in works by Bassnett ([1980] 1991), Lefevere (1992), Niranjana (1992), and Wang (2014); corpus-based and corpus-driven approaches to translation (often designated as corpus-based TS or CBTS), proposed by Baker (1992), Granger (1996, 2003), Johansson and Oksefjell (1998), and Johansson and Hasselgård (1999); and finally, approaches based on contrastive analysis, set out in works by Ramón García (2002), Johansson (2008), Rabadán and Izquierdo (2013), Shang (2014), and Molino (2017). Munday (2001, 183) observes that:

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