Shifts in repetition vs. shifts in text meaning: A study of the textual role of lexical repetition in non-literary translation

Krisztina Károly
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest.

Abstract

This study focuses on the discoursal role of repetition, exploring the way shifts in repetition patterns in text trigger coherence shifts, altering the meaning potential of translations. As repetition in translation has been hypothesized to be affected by certain universals of translation, the paper also offers initial data to support the universals of explicitation and avoiding repetition. Lexical repetitions are investigated using Hoey’s (1991) theory in a corpus of Hungarian—English news texts. Analyses reveal considerable shifts in repetition in translations; however, these differences are not statistically significant. The corpus also provides evidence for repetition shifts affecting the macropropositional structure of target texts, leading to macropropositional shifts, which alter the global meaning of translations compared to sources.

Keywords
Table of contents

Repetition has been extensively studied by rhetoricians, literary critics and linguists. However, while studies abound on the stylistic and rhetorical functions of repetition in literary translation (e.g., Abdulla 2001; al-Khafaji 2006; Ben-Ari 1998; Catford 1965: 86; Hatim 1999; Newmark 1981: 15; Zhu 2004), research is relatively scarce on its discoursal, text-organizing role despite its significance in translation. There have been considerable attempts at identifying shifts of cohesion (including repetition) and shifts of coherence in translation (e.g., Baker 1992; Blum-Kulka 1986; Jabr 2001; Shlesinger 1995), but little attention has been devoted to the actual relationship between the two phenomena, i.e., the way in which [ p. 41 ]shifts in particular types of cohesion may trigger shifts in the coherence, and consequently, in the meaning potential of translations.

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