Is translated language more standardized than non-translated language? Using profile-based correspondence analysis for measuring linguistic distances between language varieties.

Isabelle Delaere, Gert De Sutter and Koen Plevoets

With this article, we seek to support the law of growing standardization by showing that texts translated into Belgian Dutch make more use of standard language than non-translated Belgian Dutch texts. Additionally, we want to examine whether the use of standard vs. non-standard language can be attributed to the variables text type and source language. In order to achieve that goal, we gathered a diverse set of linguistic variables and used a 10-million-word corpus that is parallel, comparable and bidirectional (the Dutch Parallel Corpus; Macken et al. 2011). The frequency counts for each of the variables are used to determine the differences in standard language use by means of profile-based correspondence analysis (Plevoets 2008). The results of our analysis show that (i) in general, there is indeed a standardizing trend among translations and (ii) text types with a lot of editorial control (fiction, non-fiction and journalistic texts) contain more standard language than the less edited text types (administrative texts and external communication) which adds support for the idea that the differences between translated and non-translated texts are text type dependent.

Table of contents

Much corpus-based research in translation studies aims to show that in translated language, as opposed to non-translated language, certain universal linguistic features of translation can be detected, irrespective of the source language (Baker [ p. 204 ]1993). Baker (1993, 243) mentions a number of “features which seem, intuitively, to be linked to the nature of the translation process rather than to the confrontation of specific linguistic systems”. The features include the idea that in translated texts there is more explicitness and less ambiguity, that there is a preference for conventional grammaticality, a tendency to avoid repetition and a tendency to exaggerate features of the target language.

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