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A contrastive study of some punctuation marks in English and Swedish/Norwegian fiction texts

Seminarium, Föreläsning

Gemensamt seminarium inom forskningsområdet språk och förmedling och WIP-seminariet i engelska vid institutionen för språk och litteraturer.

Although punctuation guidelines for English (e.g. Chicago Manual of Style 2017), Swedish (e.g. Språkrådet 2017) and Norwegian bokmål (Søyland & Fretland 2015) give similar advice on the use of question marks, exclamation marks and colons, there are some considerable differences in the use of these punctuation marks between English and Swedish/Norwegian fiction texts. The data from this study comes from the fiction parts of the English-Swedish Parallel Corpus (ESPC) and the English-Norwegian Parallel Corpus (ENPC). These corpora have four searchable parts each: English originals (EO), Swedish/Norwegian translations (ST/NT), Swedish/Norwegian originals (SO/NO) and English translations (ETS/ETN). The originals and the translations are aligned in the corpora so that each query match appears together with its translation or source text. As the EO parts of the ESPC and ENPC are identical to a large extent, comparisons can also be made between Swedish and Norwegian translations of the same English texts. There do not seem to be any previous monolingual corpus studies on punctuation in Swedish and Norwegian fiction texts, let alone contrastive studies on punctuation between these languages and English, apart from the research presented in Axelsson (2018) on the translation of questions from English into Swedish and Norwegian.

The frequency of question marks in NO is similar to that in EO, but it is much lower in SO. In ETS, the frequency of question marks increases, but there is no equivalent decrease in ST. Both exclamation marks and colons are much more common in SO and NO than in EO; the result is that their frequencies are reduced in ETS and ETN but increased in ST and NT. The analysis of the use of punctuation in the two corpora may reveal to what extent changes of punctuation in the translations seem to be the result of adherence to punctuation norms in the target languages, taking into consideration that changes in the punctuation can be secondary to primary changes of sentence type, e.g. from declarative to interrogative or vice versa. The sizes of the corpora (files from 23¿25 different authors and 3,000,000¿4,000,000 words in each part) give datasets of punctuation marks large enough to draw some general conclusions on norms in original and translated fiction texts in English, Swedish and Norwegian, although reservations must be made in some cases where individual authors and translators exhibit idiosyncratic styles which may skew the results.

Axelsson, Karin. (208) Questions in translations from English into Swedish and Norwegian. Paper presented at UCCTS 2018 (the 5th conference in the series Using Corpora in Contrastive and Translation Studies), Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium 12¿14 September 2018.

The Chicago manual of style (17. ed.) (2017). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Søyland, Aud, and Jan Olav Fretland. (2015.) Norske skriveregler: reglene du trenger for å skrive på papir og skjerm [Norwegian writing rules: the rules you need to write on paper and screen]. Translated from Nynorsk by Dag Ellingsen. Oslo: Samlaget.

Språkrådet [The Language Council of Sweden]. (2017). Svenska skrivregler [Swedish Writing Rules]. Stockholm: Liber.


Karin Axelsson, Högskolan i Skövde

Datum: 2019-03-28

Tid: 13:15 - 15:00

Kategorier: Humaniora, Lingvistik, Språk, Forskning

Arrangör: institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Plats: Humanisten, Lundgrensgatan 1B, H525

Kontaktperson: Elisabeth Bladh

Sidansvarig: |Sidan uppdaterades: 2013-02-06

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