Quasi-correctness: A critical study of Finnish translations of Russian journalistic texts

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaMonografia


This is a study in the field of translation criticism: it assesses the quality of certain translations, finds reasons for their inadequacy, and suggests methods for their improvement.
The leading principle is that adequacy, that is to say the compliance of a translation with the norms of the target language, and, to a certain extent, with those of the target culture as well, is an inherent part of translation quality. The study is based on the hypothesis that, in order to be adequate, Finnish translations of Russian journalistic texts should resemble the corresponding Finnish functional style, i.e. Finnish journalistic language.
The text corpus used in the study consists of (1) Russian journalistic texts, (2) their published translations (PTrs), (3) alternative translations serving as suggestions for improvement, and (4) authentic Finnish journalistic texts used as material for comparison.
The assessment of the quality of the PTrs is based both on the intuition of the researcher and on a series of experiments. According to experiment (1), the PTrs are usually identifiable as translations, primarily because of the general impression they make of clumsiness and obscurity. Experiment (2) shows that the PTrs are experienced as unpleasant, uninteresting, and apt to arouse suspicion. Experiment (3) reveals an abundance of emotive elements in the vocabulary. Experiment (4) corroborates the difficulty of comprehending the PTtrs.
The reasons for the inadequacy of the translations are investigated using textual comparisons. These reveal a number of covert errors, i.e. deviations from the usage and recommendable norms of Finnish journalistic language. Covert errors are basically due to interference from the source texts. They are mostly quantitative: e.g. an abundance of coordinated constructions, emotive words, and clichés, a high average length of sentences, clauses, and noun phrases, a high frequency of nouns and adjectives, and a low frequency of connectives.
Covert errors are due to translation interference, i.e. the influence of source language features on the translation. Interference reduces the comprehensibility of translations. The gravest covert error in the PTrs is their nominal style. Verbal nouns give rise to a great amount of long, left-branching noun phrases, which overload the short-time memory of the reader. In the source texts, long noun phrases constitute no big problem, because Russian modifiers stand after the noun.
Sähköinen ISBN978-951-51-0976-7
TilaJulkaistu - 2015
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG4 Tohtorinväitöskirja (monografia)


This is the electronic version of the thesis that was published by Neuvostoliittoinstituutti in 1989.
Proceeding volume:

Lisätietoja väitöskirjasta

The dissertation took place in 1989 (December the 3rd)


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