LINGUA INGLESE A.A.2005-6 PROF. MARIA TERESA PRAT

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FROM GENERAL ENGLISH TO LANGUAGE(S) FOR
SPECIAL PURPOSES, OR SPECIALIZED DISCOURSE
Language for general purposes (LGP) is
the language that we use every day to talk
and write about ordinary events in a variety
of common situations (e.g. asking for
instructions, ordering a meal, writing a letter
to a friend)
Language(s) for special purposes (LSP)
is used to talk and write about specialized
fields of knowledge ( e.g. marketing,
computing, linguistics, tourism, psychology)
1
SPECIALIZED DISCOURSE
A DIACHRONIC PERSPECTIVE
IN LINGUISTICS
• Some major 20th century linguistic models have described
language as a system (De Saussure) or as an abstract
mental model (Chomsky), often not paying attention to its
social and functional varieties;
• 1920s and 30s: a group of linguists known as ‘The Prague
School’ payed attention to the “functional style” of
scientific and technical texts, often seen as ‘restricted’ and
‘inferior’ to literary language or language for general
purposes;
• After the Second World War: stress on the linguistic
features that diverge from the ‘default’ level of general
language
2
SINCE THE 1960s THERE HAS
BEEN GROWING ATTENTION …
•
to the study of variation according to the USER
(geographical and social) and to USE (who speaks/writes to
whom, about what and through what medium, M.A.K.
Halliday’s “tenor”, “field”, “mode”). A language consists of
different registers that realize its “potential” in different
ways
• from focus on “terminology” to the morpho-syntactic,
textual and contextual levels, from a “microlinguistic” to a
“macrolinguistic” approach; terminological proliferation,
e.g. ESP, ESL, ESD, microlanguages, special languages, specialized
discourse, language of the professions, legal English, business English,
English for tourism…
• Development of corpus-based methodology, which allows
the study of authentic texts in electronic form
3
The Italian tradition in the study
of specialized discourse
• DIFFERENT LABELS e.g.linguaggi
settoriali, microlingue, sottocodici,
lingue speciali, linguaggi specialisti, le
lingue delle professioni)
• CERLIS (Centro di Ricerca sui
Linguaggi Specialistici), Universita’ di
Bergamo
http://www.unibg.it/cerlis/home.htm
4
The complexity of specialized
discourse
• HORIZONTAL DIMENSION: DIFFERENT
FIELDS, OR DOMAINS, AND SUB-FIELDS
(e.g. business, economics, new economy,
finance, marketing, e-commerce,
franchising)
• VERTICAL DIMENSION:
a) specialist to specialist (exposition)
b) specialist to specialist-to-be
(instruction)
c) specialist to layperson (journalism)
5
Specialized discourse
What parts/features appear
to be typical of specialized
discourse and make its
comprehension and
translation difficult ?
6
LEXICAL CHARACTERISTICS
• SPECIALIZED TERMS (simple or compound) referring to
precise scientific concepts e.g. behaviour, chronic,
psychoactive, addiction…
• COLLOCATIONS REFERRING TO ACADEMIC RESEARCH. e.g.
estimates vary, factors explain, …show evidence, …apply
criteria, classify;
• LACK OF EMOTION e.g. the words “risk”, “threatened” and
are used in a technical/descriptive sense;
• REPETITION OF TERMS
• PRECISION is favoured over lexical richness
• CONCISENESS
• LEARNED WORDS OF CLASSICAL ORIGIN: criteria,
phenomenon…
7
SYNTACTIC CHARACTERISTICS
•
PREMODIFIED NOUN PHRASES “a small car-factory”; “a
small-car factory”
• SIMPLE SENTENCE STRUCTURE. Out of 9 sentences, only 3
of them have finite subordinate clauses
• USE OF VERB TENSES: frequent use of the simple present
tense, few present perfect forms, several non-finite verb forms,
both ing-forms and past participle
• FREQUENT USE OF PASSIVE AND INANIMATE SUBJECTS e.g.
“languages have been classified” , “the factors … do not
explain”. There is only one first person verb form “ here I
show” to highlight the author’s voice
8
TEXTUAL FEATURES
TEXT GENRE: it is the introduction to a fairly specialized contribution (the
subgenre of “letter”) published in the authoritative scientific journal Nature.
EXPERT-TO-EXPERT
COHESION is obtained through LEXICAL REPETITION more than through
anaphoric reference, use of GENERAL WORDS (criteria, factors) and FEW
CONJUNCTIONS (also, however, for example)
TEXTUAL STRUCTURE: The text establishes the field of investigation and the
key research questions. It is both informative and argumentative.
- Sentence 1 : general statement
- Sentence 2 : identifying a niche for research
- Sentence 3/4: acknowledging difficulties and giving an example
- Sentence 5: making the research claim explicit
- Sentences 6-9 expanding on the research
The text is CONCISE AND SKILFULLY BUILT
9
Lexical features of specialized
discourse
• MONOREFERENTIALITY and PRECISION
• OBJECTIVITY and LACK OF EMOTION
• TRANSPARENCY, STANDARDISATION, TERMS OF
CLASSICAL ORIGIN
• CONCISENESS
• LEXICAL PRODUCTIVITY, e.g. computing e.g.
mouse, emotycon, netiquette
10
…and some exceptions
• SEMANTIC INSTABILITY e.g. “noun
phrase/noun group/syntagm”
• Use of METAPHORS and IDIOMATIC
EXPRESSIONS e.g. “bulls” “bears”/ a sperm
bank / spam/ to launch a hostile bid
• CLASSIC versus GERMANIC SYNONYMS,
e.g. ‘thoracic’ versus ‘chest’
• REDUNDANCY in legal language e.g. “last
will an testament”
• CONSERVATISM e.g. “henceforth” in legal
language
11
Some frequent syntactic phenomena in
specialized discourse
• PREMODIFICATION (e.g. “a water-cooled engine/ the inflation
growth rate/ a small car factory”)
• NOMINALIZATION (e.g. “A day and night weather observation
station = a station in which people observe the weather both by day
and by night))
• LEXICAL DENSITY (e.g. high percentage of content words versus
function words in a text)
• Relatively SIMPLE SENTENCE STRUCTURE e.g. fewer
subordinate clauses/more non-finite clauses “ The proton is the
opposite of the electron, being a particle of positive electricity”.
Longer and more complex structure in legal English
• USE OF VERB TENSES AND MODALITY, linked to the type of text,
higher number of non-finite forms
• Use of PASSIVE FORMS and DEPERSONALISATION e.g. “This
hypothesis is confirmed by….” “ Rare languages are more likely…”
12
TEXTUAL GENRE
A relatively stable form of communication
that answers a specific function and is
recognised within a discourse community at
a given period of time
e.g. A business letter, a business e-mail, a fax,
an executive summary, a first degree or
second degree dissertation, an abstract, a
press release, an editorial, a death notice, an
ad, a tourist brochure, a booking form
13
Translating texts ( or “dire quasi la
stessa cosa” as U. Eco says)
• Is translation still needed, since English has become the
“lingua franca” of the world?
• What is the difference between the translation of literary
texts and specialized texts?
• What are the “elements” in the process of translation?
• What are the best translation strategies?
• What makes a translation “good”?
• What are the most important types of competence and
knowledge a translator should have, and the resources
he/she should be familiar with?
14
Types of translation in the world
(according to Nida 1997)
1% literature
30% institutional/international
organizations
50% industrial and business fields
19% general, newspapers and essays
Dubbing and subtitling are not
considered
15
The translation of literary versus
specialized texts
Completely different activities
or
the two ends of a continuum?
Literary texts: more “open” texts; translators can/have
to be more creative but cannot “rewrite” the text and
may have to deal with specialized language;
Specialized texts : more “closed” texts but also
including highly sophisticated and rich linguistic
choices; translators should be “faithful” but also
“localize”, that is “adapt” to the target audience
16
What are the elements in the
process of translation
The source text
The author’s intention/context
The translator
The target audience
The purchaser’s needs
17
Translation of different text types,
or genres
According to the domain (e.g. legal,
economic, medical)
According to the author’s intention (
expressive, informative, vocative) or
prevailing function (descriptive,
narrative, expository, argumentative,
and instructive)
According to different genres, e.i.
socially recognised text types
18
CORRESPONDING TEXTS IN
THE TARGET CULTURE
1.
2.
EQUAL (e.g. the European legislation)
PARALLEL ( e.g. a contract)
3.
WITH THE SAME FUNCTION (e.g. university handbook)
may be similar or culturally conditioned
1.
DERIVED , e.g. summaries or abstract
2.
AUTONOMOUS, e.g. an ad that is adapted to a different
culture
but
Texts can either be adapted to the target culture and “localized” (
e.g. advertising and computing software) , or follow
international models ( e.g. hard sciences)
19
What are the best translation
strategies in specialized discourse ?
1. Reading: from global to intensive
to a reading geared to the awareness of
translation difficulties at a both sociocultural and linguistic level. Contrastive
awareness of Source Language versus
Target Language (e.g. false friends,
different word order, cultural and
conceptual differences)
2. Translation: several drafts, from literal to
idiomatic. Use of different types of
paraphrase. Awareness of options.
3. Revision and final version
20
Some English-Italian differences
which require adaptation strategies
(Scarpa, pp. 120-165)
1.
2.
3.
4.
English specialized texts are more reader-oriented
than Italian texts, e.g. more informal and redundant
English scientific and technical texts tend to be
simpler and more direct than their Italian
counterparts, e.g. computing style
English specialized texts favour lexical reiteration
rather than a variety of lexical and grammatical
patterns
English specialized texts use fewer connectors
than Italian texts
21
Some English-Italian adaptation micro-strategies
5) From left-dislocation in English to right-dislocation in Italian ,
e.g. a slow-growing industry = un settore industriale in lenta
crescita
6) More verbal forms in English than in Italian e.g. Opening a
document= apertura di un documento
7) From simple clauses to coordination and subordination
8) English passive and impersonal forms in English can also be
rendered in Italian with “si passivante” e.g. Additional
information can be obtained = Si possono ottenere ulteriori
informazioni
9) Retention of anglicisms in Italian, e.g. scanner, non-profit
organizations, RAM, turnover
10) Calques; e.g. randomizzare
22
What are the types of
competence a translator needs?
• Linguistic/cultural competence
in the source language and in
the target language
• General cultural competence
• Competence in specialized
domains (e.g. a specialist who is also
a translator or a translator who is also a
specialist?)
23
What are the resources for a
specialized translator?
•
•
•
•
•
The Internet !!?
General and specialized dictionaries and
glossaries (monolingual and bilingual)
Encyclopaedias and expert literature
Terminological data banks
Software for machine-aided human
translation e.g. Trados
Specialized monolingual and bilingual
corpora
24
TEXT 2 (see Dossier)
“Putting the boot in “
From The Economist, 25h February 2006
In the Section entitled “The World This
Week”. A selection of political and
business news in brief
25
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