Macquarie University
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A discourse based study on Theme in Korean and textual meaning in translation

posted on 2022-03-28, 09:37 authored by Mira Kim
Most linguistic communities have textual resources for organizing experiences into coherent text. The way that the resources are used may not be the same but vary from one language to another. This variation can be a source of translation difficulty in rendering a natural-reading translation. This thesis investigates the question of how the choices of Theme, which is one of the main textual resources, have an impact on textual meaning in translation between English and Korean. -- The premise underlying the study is that a translation that is not inaccurate in lexical choices may still read as unnatural to the target readers if a careful consideration is not given to Theme choices at the clause level and Thematic development at the text level in the source and target texts. This assumption is derived from systemic functional linguistic (SFL) theory, which postulates that Theme at the clause level plays a critical role in constructing a text into a coherent linear whole at the text level. This brings in another equally important question of the study: how Theme works in Korean. No research has been done to investigate the system of THEME in Korean from a systemic functional point of view or on the basis of extensive discourse analysis across a range of registers. Therefore, this study investigates the THEME system in Korean using a corpus consisting of a number of authentic Korean texts in three different text types. -- These two coherent questions are investigated in five self-contained journal articles included in the thesis. Two of them have been published (Chapters 2 and 5), one has been submitted for publication (Chapter 6) and the other two will be submitted (Chapters 3 and 4). The journal article format for thesis has recently been introduced at Macquarie University as an approved alternative to the traditional thesis structure. Chapter 1 introduces a number of preliminary issues for, and information relevant to, the study such as research questions and background, the corpus, the underlying theoretical assumption and anticipated contributions to this area of research. Chapter 2 is a report of a pilot-project that motivated the current study. It discusses how to use text analysis based on systemic functional grammar to analyze translation errors/issues and provides systematic explanations relating to such issues. Chapter 3 reviews issues that have been raised by Korean linguists in relation to the study of Theme in Korean and provides suggestions on how to resolve these issues drawing on systemic functional theory. Chapter 4 describes the features of Korean THEME system based on the analysis of clausal Themes and thematic development of 17 texts of the corpus. Chapter 5 is a discussion about the pedagogical efficiency of using systemic functional text analysis for translator education with a particular emphasis on the textual meaning in translation. Chapter 6 attempts to analyze the readability issue of community translations in Australian context. Chapter 7 concludes the thesis with a number of suggestions for further study. --As the research investigates the question of textual meaning in translation, which has not been rigorously studied, and the question of Theme in Korean, which has never been studied on the basis of a corpus and of discourse analysis, it is anticipated that this work will make considerable theoretical and practical contributions in both fields.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Translation error analysis: a systemic functional grammar approach -- Systemic functional approach to the issues of Korean theme study -- A corpus based study on the system of THEME in Korean -- Using systemic functional text analysis for translator education: an illustration with a foucus on the textual meaning -- Readability analysis of community translation: a systemic functional approach -- Conclusion.


Includes bibliographical references Thesis by publication.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Anne Burns

Additional Supervisor 1

Christian Matthiessen


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Mira Kim 2007.




xiv, 329 leaves ill. (some col.)

Former Identifiers

mq:1493 1275591