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Kerstin Lindmark (Stockholm University)

Investigating L2 influence on translations into L1 in beginners’ translations – a corpus-based approach.


A well-established principle in the translation business is that translators should translate only into their native language, to ensure that the translation produced is fluent and idiomatic, and “feels authentic” to the reader. However, translations made by beginners into their native language often show features which are unidiomatic and “feel funny”. Mostly, this is due to interference from the source language, which is, of course, a well-known phenomenon (sometimes referred to as translationese). It is, however, not always evident what is actually wrong.
The main purpose of my project is to examine patterns of source language influence on target language (Swedish), in particular in translations made by neophyte translators. In order to reveal any such patterns, a bilingual, multi-parallel corpus of translations made by translation students is used. Since the material is collected over their whole training period, intrasubjective variation and development should be observable.
Methods explored so far include comparisons between texts produced by the different students, between student translations and master translation, and between these translated texts and texts originally produced in Swedish (SUC Corpus). One hypothesis, inspired by Campbell (1991), is that variation among the subjects indicate some kind of translation problem. In this presentation I will give an outline of the project, and show how corpus linguistic tools are used to capture variation and possible deviations from target language usage. A special focus is given to cognate prepositions in English and Swedish.

Campbell, Stuart J., (1991): “Towards a Model of Translation Competence”. Meta, vol. 36, n° 2-3, p. 329-343.
Ejerhed, E., and Källgren, G. (1997). “Stockholm Umeå Corpus version 1.0, SUC 1.0”. Department of Linguistics, Umeå University.
ESPC website. Visited 23/01/2009.
Språkbanken website. Visited 23/01/2009.

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