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Masarykova univerzita Filozofická fakulta Katedra anglistiky a amerikanistiky Magisterská diplomová práce

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Masarykova univerzita

Filozofická fakulta
Katedra anglistiky a amerikanistiky

Magisterská diplomová práce

2009 Alena Středová

Masaryk University

Faculty of Arts
Department of English
and American Studies

English Language and Literature

Alena Středová

Explicitation and Implicitation in Non-literary Translations

Master’s Diploma Thesis

Supervisor: Mgr. Renata Kamenická, Ph.D.

I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.


Author’s signature


I wish to express many thanks to my supervisor

for her kind and valuable advice, help and support.


Introduction 9

1. Translation universals 11

1.1 General description 11

1.2 Explicitation 13

1.3 Implicitation 18

1.4 Simplification 20

1.5 Normalization/Conventionalization 20

2. Functions of language 22

2.1 The ideational function 24

2.2 The interpersonal function 26

2.3 The textual function 27

3. The Corpus 29

3.1 General information 29

3.2 Antonín Hradilek – background and translations 32

3.3 Anton Markoš – background and translations 35

4. Stylistic Aspects of the Texts: Author’s style vs. Translator’s style 40

4.1 Antonín Hradilek 40

4.2 Anton Markoš 47

5. Explicitation, implicitation and non-literary texts—an observational research 56

5.1 Universals in Hradilek’s translations 57

5.2 Universals in Markoš’s translations 61

5.3 General conclusion 65

5.4 Centre and periphery 67

Conclusion 71

Summary 74

Shrnutí 75

Works cited and consulted 76

Appendix 1. Mean sentence length 81

Appendix 2. Tables of occurrences of individual universals 83

Appendix 3. Graphs 85


The present thesis is a contribution to the empirical, or rather observational research related to translation universals, an issue that has become very topical in translation studies recently. Many researchers have been trying to identify potential universals of translation and to provide evidence that would support their claims. Many theoretical as well as practical theses, essays and articles have been published and the issue of translation universals has been attracting the attention of a growing number of scholars. However, a number of problems and questions have come out too, different conceptions and ideas concerning the nature of individual translation universals have been pronounced and further empirical/observational research is needed in order to push the discipline of translation studies forward.

The linguistic tendencies that have been proposed to be the universal features of translations in general are simplification, normalization or conventionalization, explicitation, implicitation and discourse transfer, i.e. the target texts are supposed to be simpler and more conventional than their source texts; at the same time, however, some information tend to be expressed more explicitly, whereas other that might be stated explicitly in the originals seem to occur only implicitly in translations. It is also believed that repetitions present in the source text tend to be avoided in the target texts, evidence has been looked for that various lexical items tend to be distributed distinctively in translations, etc.

The present thesis focuses on two of these potential shifts: explicitation and implicitation. It draws on the conclusion Renata Kamenická came to in her doctoral dissertation called Explicitation and Individual Translator’s Style. Kamenická concludes that textual evidence from the oeuvre of the two translators she analyzed suggests that the level of translation inherent explicitation might be governed by a norm whereas the level of translation inherent implicitation seems to be a matter of the individual translator’s style. Unlike in the case of Kamenická, a small parallel corpus of non-literary texts (popular science literature) has been made use of for the purpose of the present thesis in order to verify whether Kamenická’s hypothesis is limited only to pieces of fiction or whether it can be applied to a broader range of texts.

In the first part of the thesis, theoretical background for the research is provided. Hypothesized translation universals are introduced and described, the disparity in how different scholars understand various universal features of translation is mentioned and outlines of functions of language as viewed by Jakobson and Halliday are presented as the distinctions are important for the analysis of style of individual authors and translators and for the classification of occurrences of translation universals found in the corpus.

The second part of the thesis deals with the research itself. First, the style of individual texts is analyzed and an assumption is made concerning which universals should occur in the texts based on their stylistic qualities. Second, the research itself is described and the results analyzed. Attention is paid to meanings that tend to be expressed more explicitly or to be present only implicitly in the target texts.

At the end, an attempt is made to delineate typical occurrences of explicitation and implicitation as well as the instances in which the classification causes problems.

  1. Translation universals

1.1 General description

As stated above, translation universals and the investigation into these linguistic features have become very topical in translation studies nowadays, approximately from the mid 1990’s. The search for universals goes hand in hand with the general shift towards descriptive approach to translation studies that aims at describing features of actual existing translations rather than pontificating about what qualities translations should ideally meet.

Translation universals are generally1 believed to be regularities and recurring patterns in translations, the “features which are common to all translations, regardless of which languages or text types are involved, occurring irrespective of the particularities of individual translations” (Hopkinson, 2008: 10) or the “linguistic features which typically occur in translated rather than original texts and are thought to be independent of the influence of the specific language pairs involved in the process of translation” (Baker, 1993: 243).

Many linguistic tendencies and features of language have been suggested to be potential universals of translation. Sara Laviosa (1998: 288) lists among such features common to all kinds of translated texts “simplification, avoidance of repetitions present in the source text, explicitation, normalization, discourse transfer, and distinctive distribution of lexical items”. Hopkinson (2008: 7), for example, provides a list of the following potential universals of translation: conventionalization (or normalization), simplification, avoidance of repetitions, explicitation and implicitation.

The hypothesized universals of translation have mostly been studied with the use of corpora. As there are two basic types of corpora that can be utilized for the corpus-based translation research—parallel and comparable—Chesterman (2004: 39) proposed a corresponding division of the conception of universals (quoted from Hopkinson, 2008: 12-13). With the use of parallel corpora that compare source texts and their translations, universals are studied as so-called “S-universals, source-text universals”, i.e. the attention is paid to the relation between the source and target texts, to what happens during the process of translation, various shifts in the text or the length of the texts can be studied, etc. On the other hand, with the help of comparable corpora, translated texts can be compared with “non-translated texts of the same type and in the same language” (Hopkinson, 2008: 12); in that case we speak about “T-universals, target-text universals” and focus on the end product of translation. Both of these approaches, the process one and the product one, are equally important and valuable. They are to be taken as complementary as each of them offers different points of view, different means of investigation of the proposed translation universals and, obviously, different results (cf. e.g. Pápai, 2004).

The present thesis focuses mainly on explicitation and implicitation as S universals. For the sake of clarity and complexity, however, it is necessary to describe not only these two proposed universals but to delimit the other concepts, such as addition, omission, simplification and normalization, too.

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