Hammouda Salhi
University of Carthage, Tunisia
UCCTS 2010
Ormskirk, UK
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U sing Corpora
in Contrastive
and Translation
Studies
(UCCTS 2010)
27th July 2010 - 29th July 2010
Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK
UCCTS 2010
Ormskirk, UK
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T ranslating
ambiguous lexical
items using a parallel
corpus:
A case study of ‘good’ in
the EAPCOUNT
Hammouda Salhi
University of Carthage, Tunisia
[email protected]
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UCCTS 2010
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Slide 3
Polysemy in language and
translation
“Get”
“Constitution”
“Shall”
‘Polysemy is ubiquitous in language and its investigation has a
considerable potential for illuminating human cognition’
(Brown and Witkowski, 1983:83)
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Slide 4
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Significance of lexical
meaning
“Would you please give your honest opinion
about solutions to the food shortage in the rest
of the world?”
The survey was a huge failure...
In Africa: “food” ???
 In Eastern Europe: “honest” ???
In Western Europe: “shortage” ???
In China: “opinion” ???
In the Middle East: “solution” ???
In South America: “please” ???
And in the USA: “the rest of the world” ???
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Slide 6
Aims:
 To draw attention to the centrality of lexical
ambiguity in the translation process
 To propose a corpus approach for the
investigation of CP in translation
 To reveal the ambiguous behavior of ‘good’ in
the EAPCOUNT
 To show how to enhance translator training
through insights into such an ambiguous
behavior
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Slide 7
Presentation structure
1. Translation literature and lexical
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
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ambiguity
The Generative Lexicon theory
The EAPCOUNT
Translating prototypical meanings
of items
The ambiguous behavior of ‘good’ as
revealed by the EAPCOUNT
Final message
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Slide 8
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Translation literature
and lexical ambiguity
 Lexical ambiguity is handled as part of :
 Structural ambiguity
 eg. Flying planes can be dangerous
 Some translation universals such as simplification
(Toury, 1995)
 Problems of anaphoric reference, eg. Pronouns
 Gender problem, (Baker, 1992: 90)
 Taken
:
 mainly from a paradigmatic perspective
 as a problem of vagueness and underspecification
 As an accidental problem in language and
translation: treated on a case-by-case basis
 What is needed: an empirical investigation of
lexical ambiguity in translation
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Slide 10
Developments NLP and
MT
 Importance
of lexical
ambiguity
 Centrality of the
disambiguation process:
one of the greatest
challenges for MT
researchers (Ping, 2009)
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Slide 11
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The Generative Lexicon
theory
 One of the main assumptions of the theory
 One of the main contributions
 Contrastive polysemy
a. The bank of the river, b. The richest bank in the city (synchronically
NOT related meanings)

Complementary polysemy
a. The school was built in 1932, b. What will you do when you finish
school?, c. The Venetian school of painting, etc. (synchronically
related meanings as they have a common core meaning and they
complement each other in each context )
 Prototypical meaning vs. word usage
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Slide 13
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The EAPCOUNT
 The English-Arabic Parallel Corpus Of United Nations Texts
 261 texts aligned on a paragraph basis, and 6.8 million tokens
 Consists mainly, but not exclusively, of resolutions and annual
reports issued by different UN organizations and institutions
 Time-frame of about 14 years (1996 – 2009): 93.87% of the
texts were produced over a period of 9 years, namely from 2001
to 2009
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Slide 15
Compiling the EAPCOUNT
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Slide 16
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Translating prototypical
meanings items
“bad offices do not yield good achievements”

Arabic: (‫)مكاتب سيئة لم تسفر انجازات جيدة‬

The offices of bad did not produce good achievements

Chinese : (坏办事处不产生良好成绩)

Office does not produce good results in bad
French : (mauvais offices ne donnent pas de bonnes réalisations)

Bad services do not give good realizations
German : (Bad Büros nicht erbringen gute Leistungen)

Good performances do not produce bath of office
Italian : (uffici cattivo non danno buoni risultati) :

offices I win doesn't give good results
Portuguese : (escritórios ruim não rendem bons resultados) :

offices bad not yield good results
Spanish : (oficinas mal no dan buenos resultados):

Offices badly do not give good results
Swahili : (ofisi mbaya wala mavuno mafanikio mema):

bad office success and good harvest






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Slide 18
The ambiguous behavior of
‘good’ in the EAPCOUNT
 The concordancer AntConc 3.2.1w found 326 instances of ‘good’
in the EAPCOUNT, 2 instances are nouns
 Total number of heads: 28
 Number of Arabic equivalents: 22


324 instances of the adjective ‘good’ in the EAPCOUNT
22 different Arabic equivalents are found for ‘good’ in the corpus
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Slide 19
Occurrences of ‘good’ in the
EAPCOUNT 1
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Slide 20
Occurrences of ‘good’ in the
EAPCOUNT 2
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Slide 21
Case of domain-specific
collocations
Case of the equivalent ‫( رشيد‬raʃīd)
 ‫( رشيد‬raʃīd) literally ‘right-guided’, ‘following the right
path’, etc.) 91 occurrences

Good in this case collocates with only one head noun,
namely Governance (2.77% of the heads)

It is specific to the diplomatic context
Case of the equivalent ‫( حميدة‬ħamīda)
 ‫( حميدة‬ħamīda) literally ‘benign’, ‘benignant’, etc.) 72
occurrances,

Good in this case collocates with only one head noun,
namely offices (masāʕin) (2.77% of the heads)

It is specific to the diplomatic context
When a collocation is domain-specific is becomes harder
for trainees to find appropriate equivalents for both the
node and collocate as it requires specialized knowledge
of, say, diplomatic
language
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Case of typical collocations
Case of the equivalent ‫( جيد‬ʒajid)
 ‫( جيد‬ʒajid, literally ‘of good quality’, ‘well’, etc): 81
occurrences

Good collocates with 20 different heads: (55.55% of the
heads): Practice, relationships, cooperation, roads,
political instincts, effect, progress, examples,
alternatives, education, coordination, data,
institutional capacity, level of awareness, job, living,
position, start, stead.
Trainees tend to attach to it more importance than it
really merits
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Slide 23
Case of non-typical
collocations
Case of the equivalent ‫(عظيم‬ʕadhīm)
 ‫عظيم‬ʕadhīm, literally ‘magnificent’, ‘great’, etc): 2
occurrences

Good in this case collocates with only one head noun,
namely Friday (2.77% of the heads)
Not a common collocation in the Arabic language,
especially among the Muslim community
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Slide 24
General findings
 Ambiguity degree of good: 79%




Good is a very ambiguous item.
The number of heads modified by ‘good’ is
28
The number of existing equivalents is 22.
In the 79% of the instances, good requires a
new equivalent whenever it combines with a
new head noun.
The ambiguous behavior of this adjective and
the establishment of equivalence at both
word and collocation levels depend heavily on
the head noun that it modifies.
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Slide 25
Final Message
‫آخر‬
‫الكالم‬
Because the act of disambiguating
items is part and parcel of the process
of translation, lexical ambiguity should
be handled as the norm rather than the
exception in translation and the inner
voice of professional translators
should be heard now by trainee
translators. Thank You
Merci
‫وشكرا‬
ANY QUESTIONS ?
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Slide 26
Final Message
‫آخر‬
‫الكالم‬
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Slide 27
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