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Explicitation in translation (ExiT)

Are translations always more explicit than the corresponding source texts? Regardless of source and target language conventions? Across different registers?

Are translated texts always more explicit than the corresponding source texts?

And are they more explicit than comparable non-translated texts found in the target language?

These are the questions this project sets out to investigate on an empirical sound basis, using data from a variety of languages (English, French, Italian, Russian, with a plan to incorporate research on English-Chinese translations in later stages). The project thus deals with the widely debated explicitation hypothesis (Blum-Kulka 1986), which assumes that translations are always more explicit than the corresponding source texts. Critical voices, such as House (2008), have voiced doubts that this is the case and argue that where explicitations occur they can generally be explained with reference to contrasts between source and target language (cf. also Baumgarten et al. 2008). A middle position is assumed by Klaudy and Károly (2005), who state in their Asymmetry Hypothesis that translations tend to make things more explicit more often than they make things more implicit.

Although a lot of previous research has set out to investigate translation ‘universals’ in general and the explicitation hypothesis in particular, no study has systematically tested the explicitation hypothesis based on a large-scale multilingual corpus, covering a multitude of registers. We want to fill in this research gap by dealing not only with one language pair and one register, as most studies in explicitation do, but to analyse three language pairs, including English and three languages belonging to different language families, i.e. Germanic, Romance and Slavic. Thus, we strive for conducting a corpus-based exploration and search for correlations between the explicitness and explicitation in translated text (compared to the source texts as well as to reference corpora of non-translated target language texts) and source and target language conventions and register norms.


Project Members

Prof. Dr Svenja Kranich

Gaby Axer, M.A.

Veronika Pankova, Dipl.



Kranich, S. (2019). "Complexity and explicitation in translation." Talk at the Second Translation Studies Day (TraSt2), University of Bonn, Germany, 27 March 2019. (PDF)



Kranich, S., & Pankova, V. (2018). 'Und dabei stellen sich wichtige Fragen': Linking constructions in translation. trans-kom, 11(2), 265–284. 


Works cited in the project description

Baumgarten, N., Meyer, B., & Özçetin, D. (2008). Explicitness in translation and interpreting: A review and some empirical evidence (of an elusive concept). Across Languages and Cultures, 9(2), 177-203.

Blum-Kulka, S. (1986). Shifts of cohesion and conherence in translation. In J. House & S. Blum-Kulka (Eds.), Interlingual and intercultural communication: Discourse and cognition in translation and second langauge acquisition studies (pp. 17–35). Tübingen: Narr.

House, J. (2008). Beyond intervention: Universals in translation? trans-kom, 1(1), 6–19.

Klaudy, K., & Károly, K. (2005). Implicitation in translation: Empirical ecidence for operational asymmetry in translation. Across Languages and Cultures, 6(1), 13-28.



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