[New publication] Babel: 64 (4)

Contrasting elegant variation in English- and Spanish-language dailies and novels by Travis Sorenson

Abstract: Anyone who learns a second language realizes that beyond phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon, there are variations of style between different tongues. One notable manifestation is word choice, particularly in writing. Writers may repeat vocabulary for efficiency and clarity, or they may choose synonyms to promote variety and creativity. When the latter practice is carried to extremes, it is known as elegant variation and is largely stigmatized in English, whereas such flexibility is widely valued among writers of Romance languages such as Spanish. While this phenomenon has been noted anecdotally, the present study explores it empirically. The main focus is journalistic prose in two U.S. and two Mexican newspapers, followed by a briefer examination of English and Spanish literature. Although elegant variation occurs in various word classes, this study centers on specific nouns and verbs. While the results demonstrating the vast difference between English and Spanish are interesting in their own right, there follows a discussion of their practical impact on translation, including the preservation of idiomaticity. This is especially relevant in light of the vastly improved capabilities of Google Translate, a development that calls for a reevaluation of the role of both humans and machines in the translation process.

Effects of the interpreter’s political awareness on pronoun shifts in political interviews: A perspective of interpersonal meaning by Yijun Guo

Abstract: This paper investigates the critical role of the interpreter’s political awareness in interpreting high-level political interviews in China, and its effects on pronoun shifts. Using former Chinese Premier Zhu’s debut press conference in 1998 as a case study, the study examines in detail the pronoun shifts of a China’s Foreign Ministry senior interpreter prompted by her political awareness. It identifies four types of pronoun shifts: (1) from first-person singular pronoun (“I”) to first-person plural pronoun (“we”); (2) from active voice with first-person plural pronoun as subject to passive voice; (3) from pronoun to a third-party noun; and (4) replacement of a noun with an interactant pronoun. The paper considers implications of these findings in relation to relevant studies and to the macro-social institutional context in which the political interpreting is conducted. The paper argues that this type of political awareness is a form of socio-institutional cognition inculcated and developed through the interpreter’s diplomatic identity, their understanding of socio-institutional requirements, strict training and a large quantity of supervised practice.

Translation quality research: A data-driven collection of peer-reviewed journal articles during 2000–2017 by Alireza Akbari

Abstract: Recently, there is a growing interest in the development of translation quality research programmes at different stages worldwide. Scholars and researchers have paid much attention to the quality of translation; however, there is a dearth of meta-analyses of studies and research in the field of translation quality research. In fact there has been no systematic review since 2000. The purpose of the current research paper is to design translation quality research through the construction of a database of 14 peer-reviewed journal publications during the period 2000 to 2017. A combination of thematic and methodological analyses, scientometric methods, and corpus tool were applied to analyse the extracted database. Also, top-down and bottom-up procedures were conducted to minimise the subjectivity of thematic analysis. The present research scrutinised the extracted database on the basis of four main criteria, namely theoretical importance, pertinence to empirical and non-empirical research, the size of readership, and geographical coverage including institutions and countries. Finally, this database aims at serving as a resource for researchers and scholars to become familiar with the most cutting edge information on developments in translation quality research, challenges within this field, and the possible trajectories for future research.

Translations of classical Chinese poetry online by Josh Stenberg

Abstract: Over the past two decades, internet users have been the prolific producers of online English translations of Chinese classical poetry, resulting in multiple variant translations of the same short originals. This essay gives reasons for the popularity of such translations before examining how this corpus can be approached through ‘near-simultaneous reading.’ A case study of ten amateur internet translations of a line from a well-known Tang poem shows how, regardless of the deficiencies or limits of any single internet translation, a richer and more accurate understanding of the original can be achieved through reading several in succession. Insofar as it refrains from privileging any given translation, near-simultaneous reading allows the polysemy of the original to be respected by encounters with multiple versions, and puts the onus of meaning-creation on the reader. Reading in this fashion opens new avenues for imagining the multiple meanings of an original text via variants experienced in quick succession and assembled uniquely.

Formal ontology for discourse analysis of a corpus of court interpreting by Adam Pease, Jennifer Cheung Pease and Andrew K.F. Cheung

Abstract: We develop a new method of discourse analysis using speech act theory and formal ontology. The method constitutes an attempt to make discourse analysis more formal and repeatable. We apply the method to a corpus of bi-lingual, interpreted legal dialogue, focusing on the speech act of clarification and its component acts. While discourse analysis is primarily a qualitative tool, it can be applied quantitatively by counting certain types of discourse, such as clarification speech acts. Dialogues are still analysed, utterances are classified as speech acts and their semantic relationships are qualitatively assessed. Subjectivity of human analysis is minimised using a new method of discourse analysis that employs a formal ontology. The ontology is stated in higher-order logic making the annotation of the corpus more objective, formal and repeatable than prior research.