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Grammatical metaphor in English official documentation: A corpus approach to the Vietnamese translation of nominalisation

Le Thi, Giao Chi


Giao Chi Le Thi


This thesis aims to investigate grammatical metaphor in Vietnamese translations of English official documentation. Building on Halliday’s notion of grammatical metaphor and linguistic theories of translation shift, the thesis situates its argument in the broader context of translation theory and explores the various representations of grammatical metaphor in relation to Catford’s translation shifts. It adopts a corpus approach with the compilation of a 200,000-word English-Vietnamese parallel corpus, and focuses specifically on the translation of nominalisations formed with the suffixes ATION and MENT. The thesis draws on the Vietnamese translations to provide insights into metaphorical modes of expression via nominalisations-as-grammatical metaphor in official texts. The findings reveal the various types of metaphorical meanings embedded in nominalised forms. The identification of this range of metaphorical realisations can be interpreted along a cline from being more verb-like and denoting the Act category, to being more noun-like and denoting the Result category, or stretching along the cline and denoting the Process or Activity indicated in the verbal stem.
The thesis supports the argument that several strategies which previous researchers have posited as universals are adopted in translating for adequate equivalence in metaphorisation. Some of these strategies like explicitation and simplification are found to be more powerful and more frequently used than others, and there are more explicitating and simplifying shifts in lexical rather than in syntactic or stylistic terms. Literal translation, though not commonly recognised as a translation universal, is found to be the most prevalent approach in the Vietnamese translation of ATION and MENT nominals in official texts.
The thesis claims that the adoption of particular translation strategies generates corresponding translation shifts, and it is found that explicitation and simplification often entail shifts in level and in rank, and shifts in class often occur with shifts in structure. The findings reveal that shifts do not occur singly, but are often intertwined, and overlapping shifts are common in the Vietnamese translation. The thesis also proposes a graded continuum to justify congruence-incongruence shifts, and finally develops taxonomies of possible translation shifts involved in translating English N-GMs into Vietnamese. The findings are hoped to reveal several implications for the teaching about translation and for the practice of translating.


Le Thi, G. C. Grammatical metaphor in English official documentation: A corpus approach to the Vietnamese translation of nominalisation. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Keywords grammatical metaphor, nominalisation, translation shifts, translation universals, linguistic model of translation shifts
Public URL
Additional Information Additional Information :
Award Date Jun 3, 2014


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