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Language variation and change through translation

To what extent do translations introduce variation and innovation into the target language genre? Under which conditions do translations trigger language change (i.e. translation as a special type of language contact)? The project Language variation and change through translation is conducted in cooperation with Dr. Qiurong Zhao, University of Science and Technology, Beijing.

Translations can serve as an entry point for innovation and variation in language use, and may, under certain conditions, even lead to lasting change in the target language (cf. Kranich 2014). In a cooperation with USTB Beijing we aim to understand this process better, by comparing ways in which translation from English has introduced variation and (small-scale) change into German with ways in which translation from English has influenced modern written Chinese.

Project members

Prof. Dr. Svenja Kranich

Dr. Qiurong Zhao (University of Science and Technology, Beijing)



Kranich, S., & Zhao, Q. (2016). "Language contact through translation: The impact of historical and socio-cultural factors." Talk at the Historical Sociolinguistics and Socio-Cultural Change (HiSoN) conference, Helsinki, Finland, 10–11 March 2016.

Kranich, S., & Zhao, Q. (2016). "Translation-induced language variation and change: A case study of the impact of English-Chinese translations on the use of the Chinese Preposition Zai." Talk at the 8th International Conference on Corpus Linguistics (CILC), Malaga, Spain, 02–04 March 2016.


Works cited in the project description

Kranich, S. (2014). Translation as a locus of language contact. In J. House (Ed.), Translation: A multidisciplinary approach (pp. 96–115). London: Palgrave Macmillan.


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