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Componential analysis and case grammar in translation (workshop ...

Componential analysis and case grammar in translation (workshop ...

Componential analysis and case grammar in translation (workshop

Translation and Translation Theory, fall 2008 Lecture notes, week 5 (40) Kim Ebensgaard Jensen University of Aalborg Componential analysis and case grammar in translation (workshop – assignment #3) 1. Introduction Case grammar and the componential model were originally developed as parts of larger theoretical frameworks and are meant serve descriptive purposes. But the methods of analysis associated with the two models may actually be quite useful tools to the translator. In today's workshop, we will try to apply both types of analysis as practical tools in the translation process. 2. Componential analysis According to the componential model, words display what is called distinctive features (or distinctive semes), which are, in a way, the building blocks that words consist of and can be broken down into. The distinctive features are binary in the sense that they can be either X or not X (indicated by +/-). This applies to all aspects of a word, including its semantic content. Thus, the semantic difference between 'man' and 'boy' is a matter of a couple of semantic components: 'man' 'boy' + + male + + human + - adult - + child The same goes for 'man' and 'woman': 'man' 'woman' + - male - + female + + human + + adult This is a very useful method of distinguishing members of a lexical set (words that are semantically related such that they overlap): clean pure unadulterated chaste clear + + + - - unmixed + + - - + physical substance + + - + - person + - - - - washed - - - - + “visibility” Imagine if you had to translate the Danish word 'ren' into English, which could be translated into any item in this lexical set, depending on the textual context. A componential analysis like the one above can be very helpful in figuring out which target language word to chose. (1) 'Rent vand' > 'Pure water' = water not mixed with any other substance 1

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