The present article reports on a study of renditions of sentence-initial indefinite noun phrases (NPs) in singular in Norwegian-to-German and German-to-Norwegian parallel corpus data. It briefly describes the correspondences to such NPs and the translation-induced changes that are made in the structure of the sentences including the phrase. In particular, however, the study focuses on fully congruent correspondences to singular sentence-initial indefinite NPs, i. e., the instances in which the structure is formally copied in translational renditions. Finding out to what extent such sentence initials are preserved in translation allows us to verify the hypothesis about literal translation that pertains to a potential (yet somehow forgotten) translation universal. By referring the conducted study to the framework of the current version of the gravitational pull hypothesis by Sandra Halverson, it becomes possible to position the phenomenon of literal translation in the context of the latest research into bilingual cognition and to find common ground where more traditional contrastive linguistics and translation
studies may meet. The analysis generally supports the literal translation hypothesis as the NPs under investigation (classified as highly salient linguistic structures) have been translated into German and Norwegian literally in over 70 %. Thus, the gravitational pull of the source text structures on the target language is of similar strength. On the other hand, it has been observed that Norwegian is more resistant to using sentence-initial indefinite NPs than German, or that German applies this way of content construal more willingly. In a broader perspective, the research results shed new light on the extent to which the linguistic patterns of the use of the indefinite article in a real text production are similar and entrenched in a bilingual’s Norwegian/German representation.
Data-Bukowska E. LITERAL TRANSLATION IN THE LIGHT OF THE GRAVITATIONAL PULL HYPOTHESIS: THE CASE OF SENTENCE-INITIAL INDEFINITE NOUN PHRASES IN SINGULAR IN NORWEGIAN-TO-GERMAN AND GERMAN-TO-NORWEGIAN TRANSLATION