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Journal Articles International Journal of Language Studies Year : 2017

Translation, ESP and corpus studies: Bridging the gap in a French context.


In France in the 1970's, much of ESP teaching was carried out with the use of translation; the emphasis was on the learning of “vocabulary” (Lerat 1997; Upton 2012) and the search for equivalence between English and French. French and English for Specific Purposes then evolved towards a learner-centered approach, based on an assessment of learners’ needs (Lehman 1997; Mourlhon-Dallies 2008). As a consequence, translation and terminology tended to be set aside and the focus was set on a functional approach of “communicative effectiveness” (Swales 1990: 3) in a “socially situated” perspective (Belcher 2004). The author’s proposal is that the development of corpus studies now provides the opportunity for translation studies and terminology to move beyond the level of words and structures so as to deal with textual realization of specialized discourse in a communicative context. An example of the application of this type of approach is provided by papers written by students at a French university enrolled in a Master of specialized translation. Based on the study of 40 papers, the trainee translators’ comments of their own translations and justifications of their decisions are examined so as to assess the conditions required for a successful application to translation of the corpus-based approach. Case studies of students’ argumentation show that solving translation problems, based on corpus study and in a communicative perspective, cannot be limited to finding equivalent terms: the transfer, from source to target language, of discursive phenomena such as collocations, terminological variations and semantic prosody requires an analysis of the conditions of discursive production, as reflected by the corpus. The findings of this study confirm that corpus-based translation studies’ contribution to ESP implies moving towards a communicative and socially oriented approach approach to specialized language.



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hal-01710558 , version 1 (16-02-2018)


  • HAL Id : hal-01710558 , version 1


Geneviève Bordet. Translation, ESP and corpus studies: Bridging the gap in a French context. . International Journal of Language Studies, 2017, English for Specific Purposes: The State of the Art, 11, pp.31-52. ⟨hal-01710558⟩
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