Publication details

Unique Items : Challenges and Prospects



Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The search for features that set translated texts apart from texts originally produced in the target language has been in the spotlight of Translation Studies for more than two decades. Although this endeavor may have shed some light on the nature of translated language, it has turned out to be very problematic – both theoretically and methodologically. Many hypotheses have been formulated within this research area, Sonja Tirkonnen-Condit’s unique items hypothesis being one of the more recent ones. Take diminutives, for instance. English has a very limited repertoire of diminutive expressions, whereas Czech is quite keen on diminutives. According to the unique items hypothesis, there will be much fewer diminutive expressions in texts translated into Czech from English than in original Czech texts. Data from the Jerome corpus corroborate this particular claim. Grave issues arise, however, as soon as one tries to define the notion of a unique item – especially issues related to cross-linguistic comparability. The use of the term diminutive, for example, obscures the fact that what we call diminutives in English may not be the same thing as diminutives in Czech, and if one moves to less studied phenomena and/or languages, cross-linguistic comparability becomes a major problem. Nevertheless, it would be a pity to give up on such a promising hypothesis, which is interesting, for instance, from a cognitive standpoint. According to Sandra L. Halverson’s model, the underrepresentation of unique items in translated texts is due to the absence of cognitive links between a target-language unique item and items in the source language. Therefore, it is time to develop a new, sounder approach to unique items.
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