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Universals of editing and translation

Bisiada, Mario

  It has been claimed that translation universals are really ``mediation universals'' Chesterman (2004), Ulrmur (2008), pertaining to the more general cognitive activity of mediating a text rather than specifically translating it. Among those linguistic activities that share the alleged mediation effect with translating are editing and revising. In this chapter, I critically examine the theory of ``mediation universals'' by comparing unedited translations with edited translations and with edited non-translations. The focus is on explicitation, normalisation\slash conservatism and simplification. The operationalisations are partly adopted from a similar study on English by Kruger 2012, which the present study seeks to replicate for German management and business articles. The results do not support the notion of mediation universals for the present corpus but rather show that translated texts are recognisable as such even after the editing process. Editorial influence on translated language in this genre is shown to be strongest in terms of sentence length and lexical diversity, where unedited and edited translations differ significantly from each other. Here, editors approximate the language to that of the non-translations, though the unedited translations have a greater average sentence length than the non-translations. That finding does not support the usual observation that translated texts have shorter sentences than non-translations, but highlights the importance of studying editorial influence in translation. That translations are hybrid texts, influenced by many agents other than the translator is now trivial knowledge. Yet corpus research in translation studies still relies mainly on published translations. The findings in this chapter argue for including unedited manuscripts in corpus-based studies of translated language to avoid missing phenomena of translated language that may be removed at the editing stage and to be able to differentiate which features really pertain to the translation act and which are affected by editorial influence.

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