How Does Translation Reflect Language Stratification? : The Case of Common Czech



Year of publication 2020
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The Czech language is quite unusual because instead of one, there are two codes occupying a central position in the language: Standard Czech and Common Czech. While the former is a formal, codified, literary language taught in schools, the latter is a spoken language used in everyday communication. Since Common Czech is often considered substandard and not as prestigious as Standard Czech, people are inclined to avoid it in the public sphere. Occasionally, however, a Common Czech form or expression seeps into an otherwise formal text. It turns out that texts translated into Czech manifest different frequencies of such Common Czech items than do texts originally written in Czech. The study explores these differences and deals with their causes. The research has been performed using a comparable corpus of translated and non-translated Czech non-fiction texts. It is shown that Common Czech items are often underrepresented in translations. Among the possible causes considered is the fact that Common Czech is associated more closely with the spoken mode, while translators only work with written texts. Another explanation might be provided by Gideon Toury’s law of growing standardization. On the other hand, Sonja Tirkkonen-Condit’s unique items hypothesis is shown to not provide a satisfactory explanation in this case. Ultimately, this study attempts to draw nearer to an answer as to where the imaginary boundary between translated and non-translated language lies and why it is there in the first place.
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