Kudera, Jacek; Stenger, Irina; Georgis, Philip; Möbius, Bernd; Avgustinova, Tania; Klakow, Dietrich

Cross-linguistic intelligibility of idiomatic phrases in Polish-Russian translation tasks

Phraseology, constructions and translation: Corpus-based, computational and cultural aspects, Presses universitaires de Louvain, pp. 237-249, 2023.

This paper presents the results of a translation task involving idiomatic phrases in closely related languages. The goal is to test auditory comprehension of idioms. The experiment was conducted with native speakers of either Polish or Russian, who were not professional translators. The translation equivalents were categorized according to three conditions: (1) semantic equivalent, found in a phraseological dictionary; (2) lemma-based referent, sharing a cognate component; and (3) literal translation of the source phrase. It is hypothesized that information-theoretic measures of surprisal in combination with lexical and syntactic distances between idioms can predict lay translators’ preferences. The results suggest that the proposed measures are valid predictors for the type of translation native speakers will select. The outcomes reveal an asymmetry in preference for equivalent selection across the groups of lay translators.