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”Ain’t no translation good enough?”: A Comparison of the Use of ain’t in English Original and Translated Literary Texts

Abstract : Loock provides a quantitative analysis of ain’t in literary texts translated into English from other languages, as opposed to literary texts originally written in English. He first defines ain’t and its role in original English fiction as part of a strategy to reproduce social or geographical variations in the speech patterns of characters (cf. the concept of eye dialect [Krapp, 1926]), with examples taken from various novels. Then, using electronic corpora of original and translated English (the British National Corpus, the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the Translational English Corpus) and using a methodology typical of corpus-based translation studies (CBTS; see e.g. Laviosa, 2002), he compares the frequency of ain’t in both types of texts (original English and translated English). The results show an extremely significant difference in the use of ain’t between original and translated fiction, with ain’t being extremely rare in the translated texts. Loock suggests explaining such a difference by resorting to translation universals (including the unique items hypothesis [Tirkkonen-Condit, 2002] and normalization / conservatism or leveling [Baker, 1993, 1995, 1996]), but also discusses the question of corpus design. In addition to the overall quantitative analysis, this chapter also provides a finer-grained, qualitative analysis that investigates the differences in the linguistic environments of occurrences of ain’t in translated versus original texts (whether ain’t is the equivalent of be+not or have+not, and the type of syntactic subject). The corpus-based study thus aims to provide a substantial description of the use of ain’t in fiction texts translated into English.
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Contributor : Rudy Loock Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, April 6, 2015 - 10:39:04 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - 3:50:49 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-01139517, version 1



Rudy Loock. ”Ain’t no translation good enough?”: A Comparison of the Use of ain’t in English Original and Translated Literary Texts. Donaher, P. & Katz, S. (eds). Ain’thology: The History and Life of a Taboo Word, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.274-297, 2015, 978-1-4438-7450-2. ⟨hal-01139517⟩



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