Dissertation
Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Translation

A Corpus-based Study of the Translator’s Style in Three English Versions of Bian Cheng

Author PuZuo
Tutor HuXianYao
School Southwestern University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Bian Cheng corpus-based translation studies the translator’s style translational norms translation universals
CLC H315.9
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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This thesis applies corpus linguistic tools and methods to the description and analyses the translator’s style of Bian Cheng’s three English versions.The translator’s style is defined, in the thesis, as "the integrated stylistic features of translator’s personal fingerprints, ways of writing, as well as the reflection of the translational norms followed by translators, specific translation methods and the linguistic strategies used by translators." During the process of translation, different translators will choose different methods and strategies to recreate the original text and their versions represent another kind of language features which are different from the original text. And these unique language features reflect the translator’s style. The common tendencies of different translators’styles will manifest the influence by translational norms and translation universals.This thesis builds a parallel corpus between the original Chinese Bian Cheng and its three English versions (respectively by Ching Ti & Robert Payne, Yang Xianyi & Gladys Yang and Jeffrey C.Kinkley) and investigates their unique styles on the lexical and syntactic levels. The empirical study reveals that the three translators represent some common tendencies from the original text and BNC (the reference corpus British National Corpus) on lexical and syntactic levels:the type-token ratio and lexical density are all lower than that of the original text and BNC, while the average sentence length of them are higher than that of the original text and BNC. The top five frequent words and personal pronouns-using are higher than that of BNC in the three versions, which show that the three versions list the "simplification" and "explicitation" tendencies on lexical and syntactic levels.However, the three translators do show different trends for using specific lexical items and syntactic patterns. Firstly, at the lexical and syntactic level, Ching Ti & Robert Payne’s version is characterized by the lowest type-token ratio (also much lower than TEC, Translational English Corpus), the second longest word length, the lowest lexical density, the longest average sentence length and a higher frequency of personal references compared with the other two’s versions. Secondly, The Yangs’version shows the highest type-token ratio (also a slightly higher than TEC), the longest word length, the highest lexical density, the shortest average sentence length and a lower frequency of personal references at the lexical and syntactic level. Thirdly, with regarding to the Jeffrey C. Kinkley’s version, each feature both at the lexical and syntactic level is between the versions of Ching Ti & Robert Payne and the Yangs. From the above discovery and analysis, we may find that Ching Ti & Robert Payne’s version tries to simplify the lexical and syntactic using or structures of the original text, decreasing the difficulty of the version and making it much easier to read. These features represent that the style of them tends to simplify the translated text. On the contrary, the Yangs’ version always keeps the highest information loads and tries to convey every single meaning of the original text. It is believed that these features will increase the difficulty and make the version become harder to read, which all reveal the tendency of their style is explicitation. Besides, Jeffrey C. Kinkley’s version is intermediate between the other two’s, we still believe that his tendency is tends to explicit, for he tried to use more sentences and words to interpret the source text.Finally, this thesis also makes some attempts on the possible explanations of how the distinctive styles of individual translator are formed in three aspects:firstly, translators’ personal fingerprints are the force of forming translator’s style, which include translators’ translation purpose, the judgment to target language readers, cognitive ability, personality and other factors; secondly, the sanction forces of translational norms, especially operation norms;lastly, the cognitive implication of a universal tendency of translation, that is to say translation universals also play action during the process of transferring source language to target language.

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