Multi-retranslation corpora: Visibility, variation, value, and virtue

Tom Cheesman, Kevin Flanagan, Stephan Thiel, Jan Rybicki, Robert S. Laramee, Jonathan Hope, Avraham Roos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Variation among human translations is usually invisible, little understood, and under-valued. Previous statistical research finds that translations vary most where the source items are most semantically significant or express most 'attitude' (affect, evaluation, ideology). Understanding how and why translations vary is important for translator training and translation quality assessment, for cultural research, and for machine translation development. Our experimental project began with the intuition that quantitative variation in a corpus of historical retranslations might be used to project quasi-qualitative annotations onto the translated text. We present a web-based system which enables users to create parallel, segment-aligned multi-version corpora, and provides visual interfaces for exploring multiple translations, with their variation projected onto a base text. The system can support any corpus of variant versions. We report experiments using our tools (and stylometric analysis) to investigate a corpus of forty German versions of a work by Shakespeare. Initial findings lead to more questions than answers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-760
Number of pages22
JournalDigital Scholarship in the Humanities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Computer Science Applications


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