A construction grammar approach to the analysis of translation shifts : a corpus-based study

  • Ein konstruktionsgrammatischer Ansatz zur Analyse von √úbersetzungsshifts : eine korpusbasierte Studie

Serbina, Tatiana; Neumann, Stella (Thesis advisor); De Sutter, Gert (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : Publikationsserver der RWTH Aachen University (2015)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2015


Translations play an important role in the globalized world as they contribute to successful communication in our multilingual society. For translations to meet certain standards, it is necessary to continuously improve training materials and develop specialized software supporting efficient translation. These measures should be based on our evolving understanding of the translation properties, which, in turn, can be achieved through empirical investigations of translation product and process. The present study examines translation shifts, i.e. linguistic differences between originals and the corresponding translations. The analysis is situated within the theoretical framework of Construction Grammar. It is assumed that taking into account constructions, that is language-specific combinations of linguistic features, can reveal potential reasons for translation shifts. Furthermore, theoretical assumptions of Construction Grammar allow for the formulation of hypotheses about the cognitive representation of the individual constructions that are based on their frequencies of occurrences. Texts from two registers of the CroCo corpus were considered in the present study, namely popular-scientific writings and political essays. The study has shown that the three abstract argument structure constructions under analysis occur differently often in English and German, and are typically translated into different structures. A further classification of abstract patterns helped identify more specific constructions characterized by lexical restrictions on some of their slots and register-specific functions. Some of these constructions have been shown to exhibit contrastive differences, while others are characterized by different frequencies of use in the comparable English and German registers. The results of the corpus study have been further tested in a pilot translation experiment, which examined whether a translation of a construction, which is less typical of the target language, is connected with additional cognitive effort. The keystroke logging and eye-tracking data collected during this experiment provides initial evidence for more effortful behavior during translation of the analyzed construction. The study indicates that multivariate statistical techniques, taking into account different constructions and their respective features, appear promising for further development of an empirical translation theory.


  • Chair of English Linguistics [793810]