Crosslinguistic Variation in System and Text: A Methodology for the Investigation of Translations and Comparable Texts

Crosslinguistic Variation in System and Text: A Methodology for the Investigation of Translations and Comparable Texts

Crosslinguistic Variation in System and Text: A Methodology for the Investigation of Translations and Comparable Texts

Crosslinguistic Variation in System and Text: A Methodology for the Investigation of Translations and Comparable Texts

Synopsis

The intuition that translations are somehow different from texts that are not translations has been around for many years, but most of the common linguistic frameworks are not comprehensive enough to account for the wealth and complexity of linguistic phenomena that make a translation a special kind of text. The present book provides a novel methodology for investigating the specific linguistic properties of translations. As this methodology is both corpus-based and driven by a functional theory of language, it is powerful enough to account for the multi-dimensional nature of cross-linguistic variation in translations and cross-lingually comparable texts.

Excerpt

The research presented in this book comes as a natural development of many years of involvement in a number of projects in multilingual research ranging from machine translation over multilingual text generation to corpus-based translation studies in terms of applications and ranging from English and German to Russian, Czech and Bulgarian in terms of languages. This research was primarily carried out at the Institute for Publication and Information Systems (IPSI), Darmstadt, Germany (now part of Fraunhofer Gesellschaft), the University of Saarland, Saarbrücken, Germany, and Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

At a meta-level, the research presented here unites various perspectives on what multilingual research means to different kinds of people, language typologists, contrastive linguists, researchers in translation studies and computational linguists. This is a rather unusual combination, but to me it is a natural one, and I hope that I have been able to communicate this naturalness.

The concrete piece of research dealt with here-the development of a methodology for the analysis of the lexico-grammatical properties of translations and otherwise multilingually comparable texts-has been carried out between 1997 and 2001 in two places, Saarbrücken and Sydney. I am indebted to the Australian-European Awards Program, the Macquarie University Research Grants Scheme, the U2000 Research Fellowship Program of the University of Sydney as well as the Hochschulsonderprogramm III of the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) for financial support during that time.

Special thanks go to Erich Steiner, who has given me invaluable support for many years as a teacher, a colleague and simply a Mensch, to Christian Matthiessen, who has been a continuous source of inspiration, and to Peter Fankhauser, who not only helped me a great deal in finishing off the manuscript (who would have thought that so much Perl is needed to do a book?), but, more importantly, has always been the most loyal supporter (he probably has the better ‘elevator version’ of what this book is about than I have).

Furthermore, I am grateful to the following people for various kinds of support: first, to the reviewers of the manuscript; second, to my colleagues Silvia Hansen (one of the most intrepid software testers I know) and Robert Spence, the native (‘strine’) English proof reader; third, to the Mouton de Gruyter team, especially to Birgit Sievert and Christoph Eyrich; fourth, to all my friends, who bore me in spite of my not-so-sociable moments.

And finally, I wish to thank my parents, who taught me that language matters.

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