Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

How Trainee Translators Analyse Lexico-Grammatical Patterns

Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

How Trainee Translators Analyse Lexico-Grammatical Patterns

Article excerpt

Abstract: In this study, we examine the ability of advanced students of specialised translation to identify and analyse 'generic collocations' in a corpus of specialised multilingual texts (mostly technical or scientific texts in English, French and German). In general, we find that our students attach much importance to frequently-occurring 'clusters' or 'n-grams'. However the students find it difficult to see these fragments as productive patterns of wording, or to assign a rhetorical function to them. This rather fixed view of phraseology suggests that there may be shortcomings in the way that we as teachers conceptualise and problematise the concept of the 'lexicogrammatical pattern' for our students. In the second part of this study, we suggest a different way of identifying and conceptualising phraseological phenomena using the metalanguage of Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG).

Keywords: Discourse Function, Generic Collocation, Lexico-Grammatical Pattern, Phraseology, Systemic Functional Grammar

Introduction

For many years now, an increasing number of linguists and educationalists have argued the case for a 'corpus-informed' approach to language learning, based on the analysis of large-scale text archives. Following this trend, a more central place has been given to the study of idiomatic phrases, collocational patterns and other regularities of wording, as encapsulated by the term 'phraseodidactics' (González Rey, 2005; 2008). Although phraseology as a subject has not yet become a central feature of the language syllabus, it is certainly the case that some key notions such as 'collocation' have become very widespread, most notably in areas such as second-language acquisition (Hasselgren, 2002), textbased terminology (Pavel, 1993) and Natural Language Processing (Williams, 1998; 2003). One of the reasons for the relative success of 'collocation' in these areas must lie in the way the notion is conceptualised. We would suggest that there are essentially two approaches to the notion within the field of phraseology: the phraseoriented and the pattern-oriented approach. For the phrase-oriented approach (adopted by many mainstream phraseologists, lexicologists and analysts who are interested in language as system), the key units of analysis are 'idiomatic phrases,' 'proverbs' or 'stereotypes', that is to say exceptional or idiosyncratic sequences which are pragmatically 'marked' can thus often be easily identified in a given text. Such phraseological units clearly have an important rhetorical role to play in a variety of text-types belonging to the general language (horoscopes, popular journalism, film titles, etc.). In contrast, for the pattern-oriented approach (adopted by many corpus linguists, lexicographers and those concerned with language as discourse), the key units of analysis are 'collocational frameworks', 'lexical patterns', 'clusters' and so on. In contrast to idiomatic expressions, these constructions are often routine formulae and fragments of expressions which often attract little attention, but which often make up the most typical wording of a particular genre or texttype (for a review of this approach, see for example Hunston and Francis, 2000; Frath and Gledhill, 2005; Legallois and François, 2006).

We would suggest that it is this second, patternoriented, approach to phraseology has particular relevance to a range of applied and academic contexts, most notably in courses on language engineering, terminology, technical communication and so on. Let us take a specific example from our own teaching context: at the Université Paris Diderot, we teach phraseology and corpus linguistics to first year and second students who are for the most part being trained to work in the language industries (including document design, text mining, technical writing, specialised translation, etc.). (The course we are referring to here is usually known by its French abbreviation: M2 ILTS, Industries de la langue et traduction spécialisée = 'Language industries and specialised translation'). …

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