Lost in Translation

“Lost in Translation” is not just a movie title, but also a general term for the apparently untranslatable nuances between different languages and cultures. A linguist in SPRIK resurfaced Translations lost meaning.

-As you can see a painting better if you hang it next to another, also new shades in a three languages are clearer if they are similar to one another.

Interdisciplinary work

Along with colleague Professor Cathrine Fabricius, Hansen says that the overarching goal of SPRIK project had to build a multidisciplinary environment in English, German and French linguistics and translation theory.

Aventa Translation & Interpreting Agency— We have also examined the information structure in texts and the interaction between explicit and implicit information – or expressed another way: “Is there anything that cannot be expressed explicitly by the translation between languages, and is there in that case any kind of compensation?”

Final conference

-The study of parallel translations have given us new insights, says Cathrine Fabricius Hansen
To mark the end of the project in June SPRIK organizes an international conference in Oslo called Explicit and Implicit Information in Text. Information Structure Across Languages.
Here Fabricius Hansen concludes that SPRIK has been successful.

-For us it was important to build up a stronger interdisciplinary environment, and we have managed.

She says that although the group has not yet applied for additional funds, they still aim to keep researhing after the project period is over.

-The study of original texts and translations parallel project has also contributed to new knowledge, methodological innovation and better grounded theory development in the area, says Fabricius Hansen.

Foreign interest

As a direct result of the work numerous articles have been published and several dissertations written, and more are on the way.

Student scholarships have also been provided for graduate students from relevant communities and seminar hosted which was called The Forum for multilingual research, with contributions from various locales. According to Fabricius Hansen the event was well attended.

There is great interest to SPRIK abroad. Universities of Lund, Gothenburg, Göttingen, Amsterdam, Saarbrücken, Humboldt University in Berlin, and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen have either participated or cooperated with the research in other ways.

Fabricius Hansen believes that the efforts are not only of importance for academia, but also will have a new value for foreign language teaching, translating education and practical translators of literature and government documents.

-Comparison of languages is nothing new in itself, says Stig Johansson.

— Developments in computer technology, however, have opened vast opportunities for Corpora, the so-called parallel comparable texts in several languages, both original texts and translations.

Corpora developed within SPRIK and was already started in the 1990s and has received the collective name Oslo Multilingual Corpus (OMC). Using the digital tool you can search for various words and phrases and see how they are rendered by translators.

Dictionaries are not enough

— Dictionaries are often not enough, says Stig Johansson.

— Dictionaries and other manuals are often inadequate, says Johansson.

Distinctive features are clearer

For a Norwegian, there is an obvious difference between being and becoming – and between have and get. For the English, however, it is different, in that they use the static verbs be and have also to express a change.

-What’s so exciting with the parallel corpus is that we can discover new things, both about our own mother tongue and other languages. We see more clearly the relationship between language and the characteristics of each language appears clearer in the light of the comparison with other languages, says Johansson.

  • Dec 16, 2016