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Getting the ACCENT right in Translation Studies

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Abstract

This paper describes a methodological approach to Translation Studies, Application of Corpus-based Contrastive Evaluation for Natural Translation (ACCENT), which is particularly suitable for non-literary texts. The approach, which employs corpus techniques to create linguistic profiles based on collocation, colligation, semantic preference and semantic prosody, is illustrated in a study of first-person verb use in the Results sections of English and Spanish biomedical research articles. In the texts containing this feature, the frequency was significantly higher in Spanish than in English (92 versus 30; <i>P</i> = 0.002). In English, the main associated rhetorical function was to express a non-standard procedure or a personal methodological choice, whereas the main function in Spanish was to state a result, mainly through a perception verb. Comparison of English source texts with their Spanish target texts revealed direct transfer of the source language profile rather than adaptation to the target language profile. Strategic transfer options based on the linguistic profiles proved capable of correcting the differences observed between the corpora. It is concluded that Translation Studies using corpus and contrastive techniques not only yield valuable empirical data but also provide insights into discourse patterns that may go unnoticed in routine translation practice.

References

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