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Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory

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Lexical and grammatical properties of Translational Chinese: Translation universal hypotheses reevaluated from the Chinese perspective

Richard Xiao
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, Lancaster, Lancashire, United Kingdom
  • Email:
/ Guangrong Dai
  • Department of Foreign Languages, Fujian University of Technology, Fuzhou, Fujian, China
  • Department of English, University of Macau, Macau, China
  • Email:
Published Online: 2013-06-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2013-0016


Corpus-based Translation Studies focuses on translation as a product by comparing comparable corpora of translated and non-translated texts. A number of distinctive features of translations have been posited including, for example, explicitation, simplification, normalisation, levelling out, source language interference, and under-representation of target language unique items. Nevertheless, research of this area has until recently been confined largely to translational English and closely related European languages. If the features of translational language that have been reported on the basis of these languages are to be generalised as “translation universals”, the language pairs involved must not be restricted to English and closely related European languages. Clearly, evidence from a genetically distant language pair such as English and Chinese is arguably more convincing, if not indispensable. This article explores, in the broad context of translation universal research, lexical and grammatical properties of translational Chinese on the basis of two one-million-word balanced comparable corpora of translated and non-translated native Chinese texts. The findings of this empirical study of the properties of translational Chinese have enabled a reevaluation, from the perspective of translational Chinese, of largely English-based translation universal hypotheses.

Keywords: corpus-based approach; translation universal; translational Chinese; lexical and grammatical properties

About the article

Richard Xiao

Richard Xiao is Lecturer in the Department of Linguistic and English Language at Lancaster University in the UK. His main research interests cover corpus linguistics, contrastive and translation studies of English and Chinese, and tense and aspect theory. In addition to dozens of journal articles, he has published numerous books including Aspect in Mandarin Chinese (John Benjamins, 2004), Corpus-Based Language Studies (Routledge, 2006), A Frequency Dictionary of Mandarin Chinese (Routledge, 2009), Using Corpora in Contrastive and Translation Studies (Cambridge Scholars, 2010), Corpus-Based Contrastive Studies of English and Chinese (Routledge, 2010), and Corpus-Based Studies of Translational Chinese in English-Chinese Translation (Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press, 2012). Richard is a member of editorial boards for international journals including Chinese Language and Discourse, Corpora, Foreign Language Learning Theory and Practice, Glossa, International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, Languages in Contrast, and the Corpus-Based Translation Studies book series of Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press.

Guangrong Dai

Guangrong Dai is Associate Professor at Fujian University of Technology and a PhD candidate at the Department of English, University of Macau, China. His research interests include translation studies, corpus linguistics, contrastive language studies and designing software for automatic sentence alignment of Chinese/English parallel corpora. He has published over 30 journal articles and book chapters on corpus-based translation studies and contrastive language studies.

Published Online: 2013-06-27

Published in Print: 2014-05-01

Citation Information: Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, ISSN (Online) 1613-7035, ISSN (Print) 1613-7027, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2013-0016. Export Citation

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