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Because Grammatically Correct is not Enough: Grammatical Naturalness in the Target Language as the Icing on the Cake for Future Translators

Abstract : With this presentation, we aim to show how the use of electronic corpora can help uncover differences in grammatical usage between two original languages, and how such information is actually relevant for translators, especially future translators who can thus be sensitized to the importance of grammatical choices. We aim to show that inter-language comparisons performed thanks to the use of comparable corpora can help uncover systemic differences in grammatical usage that can help translation students improve the quality of their translations by increasing the naturalness of the target language. Such a methodology sensitizes students about inter-language differences in usage and about the fact that grammatically correct translations are not sufficient if one wants to be “invisible”, as is requested by the translation market. Such sensitization is particularly important, as students have a tendency to focus on lexical post-editing at the expense of grammatical post-editing (Depraetere 2012). After briefly reporting on the use of existing electronic corpora (e.g. British National Corpus, Corpus of Contemporary American English, Frantext), we will then report on the compilation and use of self-compiled corpora,or DIY (do-it-yourself) corpora, through experiments on English and French carried out with students enrolled in a specialized translation master’s program at the University of Lille. For instance, in one of the experiments, a corpus of obituaries written in original English and original French (Necrocorpus) was compiled and then exploited by students with the aim of post-editing their initial – that is before using the corpus-based methodology – translations of an obituary. The grammatical feature investigated was the use of referring expressions to the deceased: while English and French do provide the same grammatical possibilities to refer to a celebrity that has recently passed away (full name, proper name only, first name only, lexical description, nickname, pronoun…), these are not used with similar frequencies in the two languages (Loock & Lefebvre-Scodeller 2014). As a consequence, a literal translation of these referring expressions might lead to an over-/under-representation of some of these expressions, giving the translated text a feeling of unnaturalness or even translationese in spite of its grammatical correctness. The results of the experiment show that students did use the inter-language comparison to post-edit their initial translations, but they also reveal that the results obtained through the use of their DIY corpus were sometimes used in a problematic way, leading to an over-generalization and thus to a standardization of the target language (Loock 2016).
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Conference papers
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Contributor : Rudy Loock <>
Submitted on : Sunday, March 5, 2017 - 8:51:28 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - 9:54:03 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-01483309, version 1



Rudy Loock. Because Grammatically Correct is not Enough: Grammatical Naturalness in the Target Language as the Icing on the Cake for Future Translators. Quelle formation grammaticale pour le futur traducteur ?, Mar 2017, Mons, Belgium. ⟨hal-01483309⟩



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