M2: Unit 1: Chapter 5 – The Feel of the Texts

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Ch 1: Introduction Ch 4: Corpus-Based Translation Studies Ch 7: Limitations & Potential of Corpus Processing Tools
Ch 2: Systemic Functional Grammar Ch 4 Continued: Corpus-Based Translation Studies Ch 8: Bibliography
Ch 2 Continued: Systemic Functional Grammar Ch 5: The Feel of the Texts
Ch 3: Point of View (POV) Ch 6: Advantages of Corpus Processing Tools

Chapter 5: The Feel of the Texts

Here is an example of analysis of the feel of the text in The Waves and its French translations.

Thanks to the corpus processing tools, it was possible to identify and study 275 deictic expressions in Woolf’s original. The analysis showed that Yourcenar reproduces 173, i.e. she uses deictic elements 0.629 times as frequently as Woolf and Wajsbrot, who translates 114, uses these expressions 0.415 times as frequently as Woolf. 

Deictic elements refer to a situation and allow the speakers to enunciate their position while they speak. My analysis of the translations and repetitions of person deixis (I), spatial (here) and temporal deixis (now), highlighted that in terms of point of view and focalisation, there is in both translations a loss of deictic anchorage. Moreover, Wajsbrot’s text is less deictically emphasised than Yourcenar’s. In both translations, the characters appear less involved than in the original with Yourcenar’s translation being the closest to the original’s effect.

90 expressions of modality were also investigated. On the whole, Wajsbrot’s translation conveys less personal obligation and possibilities than Yourcenar’s. The microstructure of both texts is affected by the avoidance of repetitions and non-translations but Yourcenar renders the modal elements more specifically.

Transitive construals aim at describing the structure of the processes, participants and circumstances, which feature in a clause and show how people’s experiences of events are encoded in the clause. Yourcenar departs more from the original in terms of agency as she changes these components on 10 occasions whereas Wajsbrot does so 7 times (/78). Yourcenar also transforms material processes into a sensing/perception process on 5 instances whereas Wajsbrot does it on 1 occasion (/78). However, Wajsbrot has a tendency to erase the repetitions of personal pronouns and auxiliaries as she implies participants more often than Yourcenar (7 vs 4 /78), which can be explained by her tendency to erase the repetitions of personal pronoun and auxiliaries at the beginning of sentences. Moreover, Wajsbrot erases more repetitions than Yourcenar. On a microstructural level, when the translators opt for an active construal in which the passive Goal of the original becomes the active Actor or controller in the translations, the portrayal of the characters differed as the way the characters codify their experience of events was affected.

Hence, the findings can be analysed at two related levels. There is the microlevel level (first level on interpretation)with the linguistic elements and the macrolevel (second level of interpretation) with conclusion as to the ‘feel’ of the texts through the translators’ linguistic choices. Both translators of The Waves have left their imprint on the texts in different ways. Studying narratological aspects in translation can corroborate this idea. Yourcenar and Wajsbrot created two different texts, which show two different voices superimposed on the characters’ voices.

The model presented here, is a replicable and testable computer assisted method to analyse the fictional universe of a text, aka its ‘feel’ through the translators’ linguistic choices. In terms of future research applications, model could be used to examine other literary and non-literary texts and their translations, other genres and other language combinations.

Let us now look into the advantages (Chapter 6) and limitations (Chapter 7) of the corpus processing tools.