The Priming Effect of English Subject-Predicate on Chinese Topic-Comment in English to Chinese Translation

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2016-05
Authors
Olson, Cheryl
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2016]
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Abstract
Translators must constantly decide to what extent they will adhere to syntactic and semantic elements of a source text, and weigh how their decisions might alter the idiomaticity of the target text. This study is concerned with how and to what extent structural priming affects translators’ decision-making processes in English to Chinese translation. Topic-comment constructions were found to make up 50.3% of all sentences in this study. Two experiments tested whether English subject-predicate primes reduce the percentage of topic-comment sentences used by native-Chinese speakers when translating into Chinese, and whether deliberate use of topic-comment constructions in English increases the percentage of topic-comment sentences used. The experiments also tested what variables determine successful use of topic-comment ratios. English subject-predicate primes in Experiment 1 reduced participant use of topic-comment constructions by 23.5% compared to the norm. Topic-comment primes in Experiment 2 increased participant use of topic-comment constructions by 38.2% compared to Experiment 1. It was found that closeness in relationship between interlocutors and sentences motivated by pragmatic intent of criticizing, giving counter/supporting arguments, comparing, emphasizing, and persuading are associated with higher percentages of topic-comment construction in discourse. Analysis of the results indicated that translators’ metalinguistic awareness and the ability to functionally separate their languages are likely responsible for successful ratios of topic-comment constructions to other constructions.
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M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Structural priming, Topic-comment sentence construction, Discourse-level translation, Idiomaticity, Functional separation of languages, Language acquisition
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Theses for the degree of Master of Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). East Asian Languages & Literature
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