Modal particles explained: How modal particles creep into translations and reveal translators' styles

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    38 Citations (Scopus)


    The present paper comprises a corpus-based study of translator style, comparing two German translations of the novel The Beautiful and Damned by Francis Scott Fitzgerald. The translations, by Hans-Christian Oeser and Renate Orth-Guttmann, were both published in 1998. The study isolates the linguistic feature of modal particles in which the individual styles of the translators manifest themselves on the textual level and investigates the influence the translators' microlevel linguistic choices have on the macrolevel of the novel. An electronic corpus was compiled, comprising The Beautiful and Damned and its two translations, both entitled Die Schönen und Verdammten. A quantitative analysis was carried out to discover potential patterns of the use of modal particles by the translators, and the results showed that while both translators use modal particles to the extent and in the general context one would expect, they differ considerably in their choice and use of individual modal particles. The subsequent qualitative analysis takes a pragmatic approach, and discusses the selected modal particle wohl according to its communicative function, its role in speech and thought acts and in the narrative, and in the context of the respective narrative points of view. Finally it is argued that the two translators differ in their translation styles to an extent that affects the novel's macrolevel in that one translator provides a character study while the other focuses on societal issues. © John Benjamins Publishing Company.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)74-97
    Number of pages24
    JournalTarget - International Journal of Translation Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Corpus methodologies
    • F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • Modal particles
    • Translator style


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