Macquarie University
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Linguistic theory and translation practice: the impact of thematic shift on semantic and functional aspects of the translated text

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posted on 2022-03-28, 11:09 authored by Ninh V. Nguyen
The aim of this research is to investigate the linguistic choices made in translated texts. The investigation is conducted through the examination of a sample of more than 40 translated texts and their originals, selected from an archive of some two hundred pairs of texts, which are used as referential resources to illustrate the most common issues found in English into Vietnamese translation. The texts range across many areas of government services from resettlement issues, to housing, education and common health issues, with a particular focus on mental health. The research has been inspired by several underlining questions concerning the relationship between translation theory and practice and linguistic theory, as well as the possible applicability of linguistic notions and methodologies to further the understanding and seeking solutions for many translation problems. It explores various linguistic notions in explaining and describing the most common issues in translation. It then goes on to examine different analytical tools in text analysis for translation purposes such as register analysis, discourse analysis, metafunction analysis, and genre analysis. Eventually it rests with the textual metafunction analysis, the notion proposed by Halliday (1967, 1985, 1994), which is the language component responsible for organizing and constructing the two other language components; i.e. ideational and interpersonal, into a message. Or, as described by Halliday and Matthiessen (1999: 512), the most important function of the textual component is that it creates information “[and] engenders discourse, the patterned forms of wording that constitute meaningful semiotic contexts.” The textual metafunction consists of two interrelated systems, the thematic and information systems, which play a crucial role in the creation of discourse in a communicative event. The research, however, has a particular interest in investigating the impact caused by the transfer of the thematic structure of the source language text (ST) into that of the target language (TT). In order to achieve the above aim certain theoretical notions such as Theme and Rheme, as well as thematic structure, are discussed in the light of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL); and the linguistic resources used to realize Theme in both languages are looked into. With respect to translation, a detailed discussion regarding the relationship between a particular choice of Theme and the intended meaning of the text covers both Chapter IV and Chapter V of the study. The research also examines how meanings made through the thematic choices in the original texts are interpreted and reproduced by the translator, and the effect of this upon the translations.


Alternative Title

Impact of thematic shift on semantic and functional aspects of the translated text

Table of Contents

Introductory chapter -- 1. Fundamental concepts in the study of translation -- 2. Common issues in the practice of English and Vietnamese translation -- 3. Meaning and meaning relation -- 4. Metafunctional profile of Vietnamese grammar -- 5. Textual metafunction of Vietnamese grammar: systemic functional perspective -- 6. From theory to practice - implementation of theoretical notions to translation practice -- 7. Implications for translation practice -- 8. Concluding remarks.


Includes bibliographical references "June 2012 A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy"

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

David Butt


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Ninh V. Nguyen 2013.




1 online resources (xxii, 653 pages) illustrations

Former Identifiers

mq:31208 2172997