Translation and Language Change: The Impact of English on Modern Greek, with Reference to Popular Science Articles
Translation as a form of language contact is a phenomenon that neither linguistics nor translation studies has addressed in depth. In the era of the information society, the translation of popular science texts tends to be very much a unidirectional process from the dominant lingua franca (English) into less widely spoken languages such as Modern Greek and is likely to effect changes in the communicative conventions of the target language. The primary aim of this corpus-based study is to acknowledge translation as a form of language contact and to investigate the way in which translation can propagate language change in the target language and, in particular, the way in which a lingua franca such as English can reinforce the circulation of particular linguistic features in a less widely spoken language such as Modern Greek through the process of translation.
The theoretical framework heavily draws on Johanson’s Code-Copying Framework (1993, 1999, 2002) and the linguistic features analysed for the purposes of this study are the frequency and patterning of the passive voice and cleft and pseudo-cleft structures. The study involves the diachronic analysis of a corpus of Modern Greek non-translated and translated popular science articles, along with their English source texts, covering a 20-year period (1990-2010) and consisting of approximately 500,000 words.
This study aims to make an important contribution to corpus-based studies both within the field of translation studies as well as of linguistics. Corpus-based research has advanced the study of translation in recent years, but no corpus-based study of translation involving Modern Greek has so far been attempted. Similarly, no diachronic corpus-based study has been undertaken in the field of translation studies. The assumption that specific linguistic features originating in the English source text and found in translated texts are likely to form facilitating sociolinguistic conditions for linguistic changes to be introduced in the target language, establishes a close link between translation studies and historical linguistics, thus addressing a conspicuous gap in the studies of language contact.