Quantitative and Qualitative Aspects of Corpus Selection in Translation Studies

Luc van Doorslaer
KVH Antwerpen, KU Leuven

Although research procedures for translation analysis and comparison are being adapted to the principles of induction and deduction which are necessary in intersubjective research, criteria for corpus selection are often not explicitly motivated. Since hypotheses depend for their reliability on the corpus selected, attention should be paid to the relationship between exhaustiveness and representativeness. Criteria for corpus selection are often either random or textually motivated, while exceptions and deviations in translation often require a qualitative refinement of these criteria such as that obtained from extra-textual information.

Table of contents

With the establishment of translation studies as an autonomous discipline during the last decades, new heuristics have been developed in order to support research procedures. Systemic approaches as applied to descriptive translation studies have been particularly concerned with reaching a level where translation [ p. 246 ]analysis, including the comparison of a source and a target text, can be carried out according to the principles of induction and deduction. On the basis of a partial analysis of a translation, the scholar surpasses the mere accumulation of data by systematizing his/her findings and formulating hypotheses as an anticipation of similar translational situations in the same text, or even other, similar texts. In the next phase, the hypotheses are checked and, if necessary, corrected on the basis of new textual material, so that they gradually become more and more solid. This procedure has already proved its effectiveness in ambitiously reconstructing the translational norms and strategies at a given moment in history, especially when complemented with extratextual (e.g. institutional) facts concerning the source and/or the target (con)text. Precisely because of these ambitions, we cannot be satisfied with single texts, or with the study of relatively isolated phenomena that do not offer a broader perspective.

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