Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6759
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9897



The present study addresses a topic on the crossroads between contrastive linguistics and translation studies as we seek to investigate how the English verbal gerund is used in translated and non-translated English, as well as how it is translated into German and Dutch. Instead of merely analysing frequencies throughout a corpus, we aim to map out usage profiles and translation strategies through a multi-methodological and multifactorial approach, thereby offering a more contextualized approach to the English verbal gerund. On the basis of data from CroCo and DPC, two parallel and comparable corpora for the language pairs English-German and English-Dutch, a set of over 6,000 verbal gerunds was annotated. A hierarchical configural frequency analysis was conducted to uncover different usage profiles or ‘types’ of verbal gerunds. Second, a conditional inference tree and a random forest analysis were modelled to select the best predictors to help distinguish between a nominal or a clausal translation solution. In addition to providing more insight into the status of English verbal gerunds in translation, this paper offers new perspectives on two broader debates in contrastive linguistics and translation studies, viz. the ‘loose-fit’ or ‘tight-fit’ status of constructions and the treatment of unique items respectively.

Available under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Berg, T.
    2014 Boundary Permeability: A Parameter for Linguistic Typology. Linguistic Typology18(3): 489–531. 10.1515/lingty‑2014‑0020
    https://doi.org/10.1515/lingty-2014-0020 [Google Scholar]
  2. 2017 Compounding in German and English: A Quantitative Translation Study. Languages in Contrast17(1): 43–66. 10.1075/lic.17.1.03ber
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lic.17.1.03ber [Google Scholar]
  3. Biber, D. and Conrad, S.
    2009Register, Genre, and Style. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511814358
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511814358 [Google Scholar]
  4. Borkovec, M. and N. Madin
    2019 ggparty: ‘ggplot’ visualizations for the ‘partykit’ package. R package version 1.0.0.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Cappelle, B.
    2012 English is less Rich in Manner-of-Motion Verbs when Translated from French. Across Languages and Cultures13(2): 173–195. 10.1556/Acr.13.2012.2.3
    https://doi.org/10.1556/Acr.13.2012.2.3 [Google Scholar]
  6. Chesterman, A.
    2007 What is a Unique Item?InDoubts and Directions in Translation Studies, Y. Gambier, M. Shlesinger and R. Stolze (eds), 3–13. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/btl.72.04che
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.72.04che [Google Scholar]
  7. Defrancq, B. and G. Rawoens
    2016 Assessing Morphologically Motivated Transfer in Parallel Corpora. Target28(3): 372–398. 10.1075/target.28.3.02def
    https://doi.org/10.1075/target.28.3.02def [Google Scholar]
  8. Demske, U.
    2002 Nominalization and Argument Structure in Early New High German. ZAS Papers in Linguistics271: 67–90. 10.21248/zaspil.27.2002.150
    https://doi.org/10.21248/zaspil.27.2002.150 [Google Scholar]
  9. De Sutter, G., Lefer, M-A. and Delaere, I.
    (eds) 2017Empirical Translation Studies. New Methodologies and Theoretical Traditions. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110459586
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110459586 [Google Scholar]
  10. De Sutter, G. and Lefer, M.-A.
    2020 On the Need for a New Research Agenda for Corpus-Based Translation Studies: A Multi-methodological, Multifactorial and Interdisciplinary Approach. Perspectives28(1): 1–23. 10.1080/0907676X.2019.1611891
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0907676X.2019.1611891 [Google Scholar]
  11. De Vogelaer, G., Kosterk, D. and Leuschner, T.
    (eds) 2020German and Dutch in Contrast. Synchronic, Diachronic and Psycholinguistic Perspectives. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110668476
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110668476 [Google Scholar]
  12. Fonteyn, L., Heyvaert, L. and Maekelberghe, C.
    2015 How do Gerunds Conceptualize Events? A Diachronic Study. Cognitive Linguistics26(4): 583–612. 10.1515/cog‑2015‑0061
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0061 [Google Scholar]
  13. Gómez-Castejón, M. Á.
    2012 Contrastive Analysis and Translation Study from a Corpus Linguistics Perspective. International Journal of English Studies12(2): 111–132. 10.6018/ijes/2012/2/161781
    https://doi.org/10.6018/ijes/2012/2/161781 [Google Scholar]
  14. Gries, S. Th.
    2004 HCFA 3.2 – A Program for Hierarchical Configural Frequency Analysis for R for Windows.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. 2020 On Classification Trees and Random Forests in Corpus Linguistics: Some Words of Caution and Suggestions for Improvement. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory16(3): 617–647. 10.1515/cllt‑2018‑0078
    https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2018-0078 [Google Scholar]
  16. Halverson, S.
    2003 The Cognitive Basis of Translation Universals. Target15(2): 197–241. 10.1075/target.15.2.02hal
    https://doi.org/10.1075/target.15.2.02hal [Google Scholar]
  17. Hansen-Schirra, S., Neumann, S. and Steiner, E.
    2012Cross-Linguistic Corpora for the Study of Translations. Insights from the Language Pair English-German. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110260328
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110260328 [Google Scholar]
  18. Hareide, L.
    2017 The Translation of Formal Source-Language Lacunas: An Empirical Study of the Over-Representation of Target-Language Specific Features and the Unique Items Hypotheses. InCorpus Methodologies Explained. An Empirical Approach to Translation Studies, M. Ji, L. Hareide, D. Li and M. Oakes, 137–187. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Hartmann, S.
    2014 Constructing a Schema. Word-Class Changing Morphology in a Usage-Based Perspective. InYearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association 2014, M. Hilpert. and S. Flach (eds), 235–251. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/gcla‑2014‑0014
    https://doi.org/10.1515/gcla-2014-0014 [Google Scholar]
  20. Heyvaert, L.
    2008 On the Constructional Semantics of Gerundive Nominalizations. Folia Linguistica42(1): 9–82. 10.1515/FLIN.2008.39
    https://doi.org/10.1515/FLIN.2008.39 [Google Scholar]
  21. Haeseryn, W., Romijn, K., Geerts, G., de Rooij, J. and van den Toorn, M. C.
    1997 14.8.2 Nominalisaties behorend tot type 1. Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst. https://e-ans.ivdnt.org/topics/pid/ans140802lingtopic
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Hawkins, J.
    1986A Comparative Typology of English and German: Unifying the Contrasts. Austin: University of Texas Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Hilpert, M.
    2009 The German Mit-Predicative Construction. Constructions and Frames1(1): 29–55. 10.1075/cf.1.1.03hil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cf.1.1.03hil [Google Scholar]
  24. Hothorn, T. and Zeileis, A.
    2015Partykit: A Modular Toolkit for Recursive Partitioning in R. Journal of Machine Learning Research161: 3905–3909.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Huddleston, R. and Pullum, G.
    2002The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781316423530
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316423530 [Google Scholar]
  26. König, E. and Gast, V.
    2009Understanding English-German Contrasts (2nd ed). Berlin: Schmidt.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Kruger, H. and Van Rooy, B.
    2016 Constrained Language: A Multidimensional Analysis of Translated English and a Non-native Indigenised Variety of English. English World-Wide37(1): 26–57. 10.1075/eww.37.1.02kru
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.37.1.02kru [Google Scholar]
  28. Macken, L., De Clercq, O. and Paulussen, H.
    2011 Dutch Parallel Corpus: A Balanced Copyright-Cleared Parallel Corpus. Meta56(2): 374–390. 10.7202/1006182ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/1006182ar [Google Scholar]
  29. Maekelberghe, C.
    2020The Present-Day English Gerund System: A Cognitive-Constructionist Account. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110686661
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110686661 [Google Scholar]
  30. 2022 Modeling Variation in the English Gerund System. InEnglish Noun Phrases from a Functional-Cognitive Perspective: Current issues, L. Sommerer and E. Keizer (eds), 136–167. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/slcs.221.04mae
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.221.04mae [Google Scholar]
  31. Menzel, K.
    2010 Identifying English Gerunds and their Translation Equivalents in an English-German Translation Corpus. Master’s Dissertation. Universität des Saarlandes.
  32. Neumann, S.
    2021 Is German More Nominal than English? Evidence from a Translation Corpus. InNew Approaches to Contrastive Linguistics, R. Enghels, B. Defrancq and M. Jansegers (eds), 127–158. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G. and Svartvik, J.
    1985A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. R Core Team
    R Core Team 2022R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. https://www.R-project.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Rabadán, R., Labrador, B. and Ramón, N.
    2009 Corpus-Based Contrastive Analysis and Translation Universals. A Tool for Translation Quality Assessment English→Spanish. Babel55(4): 303–28. 10.1075/babel.55.4.01rab
    https://doi.org/10.1075/babel.55.4.01rab [Google Scholar]
  36. Ross, J. R.
    1973Nouniness. InFuzzy grammar, B. Aarts, D. Denison, E. Keizer and G. Popova (eds), 91–108. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Sarkar, D.
    2008Lattice: Multivariate Data Visualization with R. New York: Springer. 10.1007/978‑0‑387‑75969‑2
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-75969-2 [Google Scholar]
  38. Sasse, H-J.
    2001 Scales between Nouniness and Verbiness. InLanguage Typology and Language Universals (vol.11), Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationsswissenschaft 20, M. Haspelmath (ed.), 495–509. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Scott, A. K.
    2010 Accounting for the Semantic Extension of Derived Action Nouns. Journal of Linguistics461: 711–734. 10.1017/S0022226710000034
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022226710000034 [Google Scholar]
  40. Serbina, T., Hintzen, S., Niemietz, P. and Neumann, S.
    2017 Changes of Word Class During Translation – Insights from a Combined Analysis of Corpus, Keystroke Logging and Eye-Tracking Data. InEmpirical Modelling of Translation and Interpreting, S. Hansen-Schirra, O. Čulo and S. Hofmann (eds), 177–208. Berlin: Language Science Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Steiner, E.
    2012 A Characterization of the Resource Based on Shallow Statistics. InCross-Linguistic Corpora for the Study of Translations: Insights from the Language Pair English-German, S. Hansen-Schirra, S. Neumann and E. Steiner (eds), 71–89. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110260328.71
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110260328.71 [Google Scholar]
  42. Tagliamonte, S. and Baayen, H. R.
    2012 Models, Forests, and Trees of York English: Was/were Variation as a Case Study for Statistical Practice. Language Variation and Change24(2): 135–178. 10.1017/S0954394512000129
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394512000129 [Google Scholar]
  43. Tirkkonen-Condit, S.
    2004 Unique Items ― Over- or Under-Represented in Translated Language?InTranslation universals. Do they exist?, P. Kujamäki and A. Mauranen (eds), 177–184. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/btl.48.14tir
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.48.14tir [Google Scholar]
  44. Van Haeringen, C. B.
    1956Nederlands tussen Duits en Engels. The Hague: Servire.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Van Landeghem, J.
    2015 -ing Seen through its Dutch Translation Equivalents: A Contrastive Parallel Treebank-Based Study. Master’s Dissertation, University of Leuven.
  46. von Eye, A.
    1990Introduction to Configural Frequency Analysis: The Search for Types and Antitypes in Cross-Classifications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error