Processing possessives in translation between unequal systems. An exploratory study

  • Bergljot Behrens ILOS, University of Oslo


The present paper reports on results of two translation experiments conducted with eye tracking and keylogging. Norwegian and Danish professional and student translators have each translated a small English news text into their L1. The texts include possessives in different syntactic environments which affect choice between a reflexive and an irreflexive form in the targets. While native speakers are expected to make uniform choices which conform to regularities on local and non-local binding principles in Danish and Norwegian, we find disparate solutions among the participants in both groups. The study compares final products with process data, both in terms of edits and in terms of temporal measures indicative of translation effort. Results show a considerable amount of hesitation on choice in all non-finite clause constructions, although more so among students than among professionals. Questions of translation effects versus an unstable locality principle is taken up in the final discussion.