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Investigating explicitation in children’s literature translated between English and Chinese

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posted on 2023-01-09, 00:52 authored by Xiaomin Zhang

There has been substantial evidence that translated language demonstrates the feature of increased explicitness of lexicogrammatical encoding (or explicitation) (see Kruger, 2019; Marco, 2012; Olohan & Baker, 2000; Pápai, 2004; Xiao, 2011; Zhang, Kotze (Kruger), & Fang, 2020; Zufferey & Cartoni, 2014). This increased explicitness has been regarded as a probabilistic tendency of translation, conditioned by a variety of factors, such as text type and the language involved (Toury, 2004). Zhang (2017) investigated this tendency using a corpus-based method, focusing on the translation of children’s literature from English to Chinese. This study confirmed that translated Chinese has demonstrated increased explicitness in that the overall use of conjunctions and personal pronouns (two of the commonly used indicators of cohesive explicitness) was significantly more frequent in translations compared to non-translations. However, this tendency did not play out across all the indicators investigated, suggesting that transfer effects from the source texts/language as well as conservative adjustment to target language norms may have played complex roles in affecting the degree of explicitness (Zhang, 2017). These findings further highlighted the need for more rigorous and comprehensive enquiries into the causes of explicitation, which have been ascribed to source-language transfer or cross-linguistic priming, cognitive complexity or effort, and conservatism or risk aversion. The current project was a comprehensive study of explicitation in the translation of children’s literature between English and Chinese, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The study investigated the increased explicitness and explicitation in both translation directions and explored the interplay of different factors in achieving explicitation. By conducting a comparable and parallel corpus analysis and using Halliday’s systemic functional linguistic model to analyse the logico-semantic meanings of conjunctions, this study compared translated texts to both non-translated texts in the same target language and to their source texts to test whether the translations demonstrated increased explicitness. The comparable corpus analysis showed that the feature of increased explicitness was only found in the translated Chinese, but not in the translated English, suggesting a strong influence of source language interference. The parallel corpus analysis found that translated texts were more explicit than their source texts, and that explicitation in one translation direction was not counterbalanced by implicitation in the reversed direction, thus confirming the asymmetry hypothesis (Klaudy & Károly, 2005). Thus, the explicitation of logico-semantic meaning seemed to be a universal strategy adopted in the translations. However, the asymmetric power relation between English and Chinese played a critical role in determining the formulation of this asymmetric pattern between explicitation and implicitation. The potential reasons which might have motivated the translators to use explicitation and/or implicitation were also explored by two-way qualitative analysis.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction -- Chapter 2 Corpus-based studies of explicitation and proposed explanatory hypotheses -- Chapter 3 Conjunctions as indicators of explicitation -- Chapter 4 Methodology -- Chapter 5 Investigating explicitness: Results from the comparable corpus analysis -- Chapter 6 Investigating explicitation: Results from the parallel corpus analysis -- Chapter 7 Explaining explicitation -- Chapter 8 Conclusion – References – Appendices

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jing Fang

Additional Supervisor 1

Haidee Kotze


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257 pages

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