An Empirical Study of English-Chinese Translation of Novel Context-Free Compound Nouns and Phrases

Wei WANG, Weihong ZHOU


The current study designs a compound translation test and finds out that unlike English speakers, Chinese translators tend to bypass syntactic paraphrase and directly conduct semantic processing on the surface structure of compounds/phrases. Syntactic operations, semantic categories, and world knowledge are important factors in compound interpretation and translation. Syntactic analysis and semantic processing are important factors in the process of interpretation and translation of novel context-free compounds and phrases. The present study also reveals the psychological differences between English and Chinese speakers. Syntactic transformation knowledge is also quite helpful in disambiguating compounds/phrases with the same surface structures. Statistical results demonstrate that the abstractness of compounds affect translators’ processing effort as well as accuracy. Other possible factors in compounding comprehension and translation include world knowledge, contextual information and pragmatic


Translation; Context-free; Compound nouns; Phrases; Synthetic

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