My research aims to answer two main questions. The first question we want to provide an answer to, is to what extent translated texts differ from non-translated texts. Numerous corpus-based studies carried out within the so-called universals paradigm have shown that language use in translations differs from language use in non-translated texts, for example that translations seem to conform more to the norms of the target language than non-translated texts (normalization) or that translated texts tend to use more explicit expressions than original texts (explicitation) or that language use in translation is more oriented towards the source language (shining through). The question, however, whether these specific features of translated language also occur on the semantic level, has rarely been asked. If (subtle) lexicosemantic differences indeed appear to occur in translations compared to non-translated texts, that would undermine the core assumption of what translation defines, namely that there is semantic equivalence between source texts and their translations: “it seems to be firmly embedded in public opinion that in translation it is the meaning that has to remain unchanged” (Klaudy 2010:80). We will call this the semantic stability hypothesis, which states that the semantic structure of a given lexeme in translations is identical to its semantic structure in non-translated texts. Consequently, the main objective of this research is to explore possible lexicosemantic translational effects and to verify the semantic stability hypothesis by investigating whether the (sub-)meanings associated with verbs of inchoativity shift during translation. We approach this question through two perspectives, the first being an onomasiological perspective, the second a semasiological one.
The second goal of our research is to investigate the cognitive factors that could cause these differences. Most researchers ascribe translational differences to language-external factors, and by consequence there is less attention for cognitive models that can explain the different nature of translated language. We want to focus on the influence of cognitive effort and risk avoidance on the translations, in order to help to close the gap between cognitive linguistics and corpus-based translation studies.
In order to answer those questions, we use the behavioral profile approach, a usage-based method that aims at capturing the complexity of word meaning by looking at contextual features of the words under study and we apply a variety of advanced statistical methods, such as RandomForests, Correspondence Regression Analysis and Conditional Inference Trees.