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The NAFTA signing, a Luftwaffe staff officer and a Västerbotten family: English proper noun modifiers in German and Swedish contrast
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages. (LEGS)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2315-9324
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages. (LEGS)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5613-7618
2017 (English)In: 7th Biennial International Conference of the Linguistics of Contemporary English: University of Vigo, 28-30 September 2017 : Book of abstracts, 2017, 54-55 p.Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Although previous studies of English proper noun modifiers have touched upon contrastive aspects with other languages (see, e.g., Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2013; Schlücker 2013: 464–5; Breban 2017: 13), to date there has been no systematic study. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap by investigating personal names, place names and the names of organizations used as premodifiers in English non-fiction source texts and their translations into English from German and Swedish. The investigation will provide insights into (i) how translators interpret the modifiers, (ii) what structural means are used in German and Swedish to render them, (iii) in what ways the semantic relations that the proper nouns express affect the translation choices and (iv) the specific nature of translated language (cf. Baker 1993). German and Swedish share most of structural means used to translate proper noun modifiers, including the most straightforward equivalent, compound nouns.

The material was collected from a new, parallel and comparable corpus. The corpus is being compiled by the researchers, and the texts include recently published biographies and books on popular science.

The non-fiction genre seems to favour the use of modifiers based on acronyms (NKVD troops) and locations (Southampton traffic) (as found also by Rosenbach 2007: 165), rather than personal names (the Obama presidency). Overall, there are a large number of alternatives among the renderings of proper noun modifiers, e.g., compound nouns (Stirling undergraduates > Stirlingstudenter (Sw.)), prepositional phrases (the Apple corridors > korridorerna på Apple (Sw.)), genitives (Apple headquarters > Apples högkvarter (Sw.)), adjectives (Washington think tanks > Washingtoner Denkfabriken (Ge.)), appositions (the Clinton administration > die Regierung Clinton (Ge.)), metonymies (a Picasso painting > einem Picasso (Ge.)) and omissions of the proper noun (White House interns > Praktikantinnen (Ge.)).

Our findings support Schlücker’s (2013) observation that German translations of location- based English modifiers may involve prepositional phrases or adjectives. The same holds true for the Swedish translations. Furthermore, there seems to be a tendency for modifiers with a deverbal head noun and a complement interpretation to be rendered as prepositional phrases in both German and Swedish (the NAFTA signing > die Unterzeichnung von NAFTA (Ge.) / undertecknandet av NAFTA (Sw.)). Among the notable language-specific tendencies is a German preference for postposed genitives (RAF airfields > Flugfelder der RAF) and a more frequent Swedish use of compounds (the Dunkirk pocket > Dunkerque-fickan).

Proper noun modifiers in English texts translated from German and Swedish are mostly based on compounds in the source texts (e.g., DDR-Fernsehen (Ge.) > GDR television; Karl XII- dagen (Sw.) > the Charles XII anniversary day). Interestingly, some English modifiers originate in the translation strategy explicitation (skärgården (Sw.) > the Stockholm archipelago). 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. 54-55 p.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-68358OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-68358DiVA: diva2:1149289
Conference
7BICLCE, 7th Biennal International Conference on the Linguistics of Contemporary English, Vigo, Spanien, 2017
Available from: 2017-10-14 Created: 2017-10-14 Last updated: 2017-10-30Bibliographically approved

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