Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6759
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9897
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This article aims to test the Gravitational Pull Hypothesis on the imperfective/perfective aspect distinction in the language pairs English-Catalan and French-Catalan. It draws on the corresponding corpora in COVALT. The GPH posits three cognitive causes of translational effects: source or target language salience and connectivity. Different configurations of these causes, or factors, are expected to result in over- or under-representation of target language features. The imperfective/perfective aspect distinction was chosen as a testing ground for the GPH because it is morphologically marked in Catalan and French but not in English. That may give rise to different configurations of factors and, therefore, to different translational effects. It is predicted that the preterite, which conveys perfective aspect in Catalan, will be over-represented in Catalan translations from English as compared to translations from French and to Catalan non-translations. On the other hand, the imperfect, which conveys imperfective aspect, will be under-represented. Results confirm these predictions. For translations from French, both adherence to the patterns observed in Catalan non-translations and over-representation of the preterite are possible outcomes. Results lend support to the second alternative ― over-representation of the preterite. These results highlight the importance of relying on frequency other sources of evidence when formulating hypotheses in the framework of the GPH. Research from the field of second language acquisition proved particularly significant in this respect.


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