Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives in Translation

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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives
Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives in
Translation
Workshop Discourse Analysis
15 June 2007
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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives
0. Introduction
1. Discourse Analysis & Translation
2. Coherence and Theme Rheme
2.1
Pragmatic Theme Rheme-Analysis: Identification
2.2 The Discourse Dimension: Coherence, Topic Structure
and Discourse Preferences
3. Discourse & Text Perspectives
4. Application: Sample Analysis
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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives
1 Discourse Analysis & Translation

Discourse
process of establishing sense continuity (Habermas 1971)
communicative text in dialog form (Wunderlich 1976)
involves language use, cognition and interaction (v.Dijk 1997:32)

Translation
the communicative act of transfer of ‘material’ A to ‘material B’ as
specified in the MuTra concept, i.e.
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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse and Text Perspectives
Multidimensional Translation (cf. Gerzymisch-Arbogast 2007:3)

Involves source material, e.g. knowledge and text/discourse (in the widest
sense), to be 'transferred' to another material, e.g. another knowledge (system)
or text (in its widest sense, i.e. incl. e.g. ‘discourse‘) irrespective of whether the
translated product is in the same (national) language or not, written, spoken, or
signed, in linear or non-linear form, technology-driven and multimedia-
supported or not.

Beyond this conceptual common ground, the following common traits are
assumed to apply to all human translation procedures (three phases of
translation):
texts/discourse need to be understood (= coherent) before they are
translated (which requires world knowledge, individual understanding and
inferences being secured by text/discourse analysis)
translation implies a ‘transfer’ from one of at least two cultures, languages,
modes and/or sign systems (in the widest sense) to another and that
text/discourse production in the target culture, language, mode and/or sign
system requires reformulation according to a set of parameters (e.g.
purpose, norms, recipient type) to be specified in the individual scenario.
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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives
1 Discourse Analysis & Translation (cont.)
are interrelated in terms of both involving:
• Language in use and interaction, i.e. communicative acts sharing
communicative parameters
(e.g. communicative settings and partners, their background
knowledge profiles and perspectives)
• Cognition manifested in text/discourse parameters
(e.g. meanings, inferences, coherence)
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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives
2 Coherence and Theme Rheme
Coherence is understood as
• the sense continuity of a text/discourse (de Beaugrande Dressler 1981)
• involving inferences (Bellert 1970) and world knowledge (de
Beaugrande Dressler 1981, van de Velde 1981, Hatakeyama et. al
1989)
• with thematic continuity being identifiable via inferences and world
knowledge hypotheses acting an indicator of coherence (Mudersbach
2004)
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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives
2.1 Pragmatic Theme Rheme-Analysis: Identification
There is a great variety of terms and definitions for the theme-rheme
phenomenon (cf. Gerzymisch-Arbogast 2003a)
BENENNUNGSVIELFALT BEI
BEGRIFFLICHER UNKLARHEIT
THEMA
RHEMA
pragmatischer Ansatz; heute favorisiert
das Alte
das Neue
Problem: Was ist unter „given“, „alt“,
given info
new info
„präsupponiert“ zu verstehen?
on stage
off stage
Problemlösung durch Problemverlagerung
präsupponierte
fokussierte
Wie erklären sich Initialsätze,
Info
Info
Zeitungsüberschriften?
Ausgangspunkt
Kern
syntaktischer Ansatz; heute überholt
(der Aussage)
(der Aussage)
Problem: kann Emphasen nicht erklären
vom Typ „den mag ich nicht“
topic
comment
semantisch-formaler Ansatz; wird noch diskutiert
Mitteilungsgegen-
Aussage
Problem: liegt oft „quer“ zum „given/new“
stand
Kriterium und lässt sich nur über die Situation erklären
topic
focus
(Fragetests)
geringe
höchste
kontextueller Ansatz; wird ebenfalls noch diskutiert
kommunikative
kommunikative
Problem: Zirkelschluss: man setzt das voraus, was man
Dynamik
Dynamik
erschließen möchte (Intonation, Wortstellung)
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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives
2 Coherence and Theme Rheme (cont.)
Working hypothesis for THEME-RHEME Identification
THEME-RHEME is a communicative phenomenon, which needs to be
identified by a detailed pragmatic analysis, e.g.

The communicative partners, i.e.
a speaker who in an individual situation with an individual aim
sends a message which s/he thinks is new (her/speaker‘s perspective)
to a hearer as s/he anticipates him/her (hearer from a speaker‘s perspective)
A pre-condition for a successful communication is:
a shared knowledge stock of the communicative partners and
a shared scope of attention of the speaker/hearer in a given situation
from which the speaker then selects information which s/he thinks is known to
the hearer (theme) and information which s/he thinks is new to the hearer
(rheme).
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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse and Text Perspectives
2 Coherence and Theme Rheme (cont.)
Theme – Rheme analysis is therefore not language-specific
but a general communication phenomenon. However, the
means by which T/R is expressed may vary by language
(e.g. permutation or particles in German vs. clefting in
English).

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Prof. Dr. H. Gerzymisch-Arbogast
Discourse Analysis and Text Perspectives
2 Coherence and Theme Rheme (cont.)
Example
Rob Roy, real name Robert MacGregor (1671-1734) was a
Scottish brigand, sometimes called the Scottish Robin Hood.
Known as Rob Roy, or Robert the Red, because of his red hair,
he was a member of the outlawed Scottish clan Gregor. After
his lands were confiscated in 1712 by James Montrose, 1st
duke of Montrose, to whom he was in debt, Rob Roy became a
leader of uprisings and a freebooter. He later lived in peace for
a time under the protection of John Campbell, 2nd duke of
Argyll, taking the name Robert Campbell, but he was
imprisoned by the English in the 1720s. The Scottish novelist
Sir Walter Scott turned the brigand into a romantic hero in his
popular novel Rob Roy (1818). In 1995 a movie about his
struggle was released called Rob Roy.
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