Explicitation in children’s literature translated from English to Chinese: a corpus-based study of personal pronouns

Xiaomin Zhang*, Haidee Kotze, Jing Fang

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    There is substantial empirical evidence that translated texts demonstrate increased explicitness of lexicogrammatical encoding (or explicitation) compared to both source texts and non-translated texts in the target language. This increased explicitness has been ascribed to a number of causes, including source-language transfer or cross-linguistic priming, cognitive complexity or effort, and conservatism or risk aversion. This study investigates the occurrence of and the proposed reasons for the increased explicitness of translation, focusing on translated Chinese children’s literature as a test case. Quantitative corpus-linguistic methods are used to analyse the frequency of personal pronouns (as an operationalisation of lexicogrammatical explicitness) in a custom-built comparable corpus of translated and non-translated Chinese children’s literature. Qualitative analysis is used to explore the potential reasons for the differences in explicitness between these two subcorpora. The findings show that personal pronouns are more frequently used in Chinese children’s literature translated from English, compared to non-translated Chinese children’s books. However, this tendency does not play out across all the individual personal pronouns, suggesting that cross-linguistic influence or the “shining through” of the source language is at the root of this increased explicitness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)717-736
    Number of pages20
    JournalPerspectives: Studies in Translatology
    Issue number5
    Early online date26 Dec 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • explicitation
    • English-Chinese translation
    • children’s literature
    • corpus-based study
    • personal pronouns
    • Explicitation


    Dive into the research topics of 'Explicitation in children’s literature translated from English to Chinese: a corpus-based study of personal pronouns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this