Changing conventions in English-German translations of popular scientific texts

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This contribution summarizes results of the project <i>Covert Translation</i>, where we investigated the influence of Anglophone communicative conventions on German via translation. Our hypothesis was that the prestige of English as a <i>lingua franca</i> and the growing number of translations from English into German leads to a decline in &#8220;cultural filtering&#8221;, i.e. a diminishing tendency of translators to adapt conventional Anglophone norms to German norms. In this way, English-German translations may introduce linguistic variation to certain target language registers, with Anglophone usage norms also spreading to non-translated German texts. We will here review a number of project studies using a corpus consisting of (1.) English popular scientific texts, (2.) their translations into German, and (3.) comparable non-translated German texts. These studies show that English-German translations are characterized by a considerable degree of source language &#8216;shining-through&#8217;, which has, however, only in one case led to Anglophone communicative norms spreading to non-translated German texts. We conclude that, for the popular science genre, translation-induced influence of English on German is a marginal phenomenon.


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