Levelling-out and register variation in the translations of experienced and inexperienced translators: a corpus-based study

Karien Redelinghuys


Explicitation, simplification, normalisation and levelling-out, the four features of translation proposed by Baker (1996), have attracted considerable attention in translation studies. Although the first three have been studied extensively, levelling-out has been the subject of less empirical investigation. Furthermore, there are no studies to date that have investigated the extent to which levelling-out occurs in translations by experienced translators and inexperienced translators. In this study, levelling-out is operationalised in terms of register. It is hypothesised that less register variation will be apparent in translations by inexperienced translators and, in keeping with the features of translation hypothesis, it is predicted that select linguistic features will demonstrate less register variation in translations than in non-translations. A custom-built corpus was compiled to test these hypotheses. While some light is shed on how translation expertise contributes to register sensitivity and the distribution of certain features across different registers, little evidence could be found for levelling-out as register variation is evident in the translation corpora.


levelling-out; universals of translation; register variation; translation expertise

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5774/45-0-198


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