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Typological differences shining through: The case of phrasal verbs in translated English

Abstract : Are phrasal verbs less numerous in English translations if the source language is a Romance language than if the source language is a Germanic one? This chapter sets out to answer that question. In a subcorpus of English fictional texts translated from Romance languages, up, out and down, which represent phrasal verb use rather well, are indeed underused when compared with non-translated English fiction from the British National Corpus, while no significant difference is to be found for this set of items-between non-translated English and English translated from Germanic languages. This finding is strong evidence for source-language interference, as Romance languages on the whole do not have close equivalents to phrasal verbs, while Germanic languages do. This effect appears stronger than any source-language-independent translation universal that could in principle have played a role, such as normalization (exaggerated use of phrasal verbs, which are typical of the English language) or levelling-out (avoidance of phrasal verbs, which are generally felt to be rather colloquial).A comparison of French prefixed verbs with morphologically simplex ones in Le Petit Prince further shows that the former are more likely to be translated by phrasal verbs than the latter, again supporting source-language influence, as phrasal verbs resemble prefixed verbs in being composed of a verb and an added element. Our study thus stresses the relevance of taking into account typological differences (and similarities) between source and target language in translation studies.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 10:44:17 AM
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Bert Cappelle, Rudy Loock. Typological differences shining through: The case of phrasal verbs in translated English. Gert De Sutter; Marie-Aude Lefer; Isabelle Delaere. Empirical Translation Studies. New Theoretical and Methodological Traditions, Mouton de Gruyter, pp.235-264, 2017. ⟨hal-01496966⟩



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