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Laura Cantora (University of Leeds)

Identifying proper names in a trilingual corpus of chick-lit novels

Abstract

In this paper I discuss the possibilities and implications of applying corpus processing tools to a study of proper names in British modern women’s fiction (commonly known as chick lit) and their translations into Spanish and Italian. The broader research goal motivating the use of these tools is to describe the strategies used to translate proper names and determine to what extent these convey to the target readership the cultural background and sense of place that the names evoke for native readers. This question is especially significant in a chick lit novel, which is set in contemporary society and makes use of real proper names both to describe scenes and to invoke certain social connotations for the reader.
Having created a trilingual parallel corpus of several novels, I explored the use of corpus tools to automate the identification of the proper names in both the source and target texts. Specifically, in this paper I evaluate the performance of named-entity (NE) recognition software for identifying and automatically extracting the proper names from source texts, and the usability of a trilingual concordancer for automatically locating those names in the target texts. My experiments show that the accuracy of the NE recognition software was not as high as anticipated, so that additional processing is necessary to identify all the proper names in the texts. I also discuss the potential benefits that various distributional statistics generated by corpus software bring to the linguistic analysis of the translation data. For example, initial results show that proper names occupy a high rank in word-frequency lists, reflecting the prominent role that proper names play in this particular literary genre and validating my choice of research focus.

Reference
Kenny, D. (2001) Lexis and Creativity in Translation, Manchester, St. Jerome.
Laviosa, S. (Ed) (1998): The corpus-based approach, Special Issue of Meta 43(4)
Olohan, M. (2004) Introducing Corpora in Translation Studies, London, Routledge.

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