Bizzoni, Yuri; Lapshinova-Koltunski, Ekaterina

Measuring Translationese across Levels of Expertise: Are Professionals more Surprising than Students?

Proceedings of the 23rd Nordic Conference on Computational Linguistics (NoDaLiDa), Linköping University Electronic Press, Sweden, pp. 53-63, 2021.

The present paper deals with a computational analysis of translationese in professional and student English-to-German translations belonging to different registers. Building upon an information-theoretical approach, we test translation conformity to source and target language in terms of a neural language model’s perplexity over Part of Speech (PoS) sequences. Our primary focus is on register diversification vs. convergence, reflected in the use of constructions eliciting a higher vs. lower perplexity score. Our results show that, against our expectations, professional translations elicit higher perplexity scores from a target language model than students’ translations. An analysis of the distribution of PoS patterns across registers shows that this apparent paradox is the effect of higher stylistic diversification and register sensitivity in professional translations. Our results contribute to the understanding of human translationese and shed light on the variation in texts generated by different translators, which is valuable for translation studies, multilingual language processing, and machine translation.