The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics

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Korean Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 21

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Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 21, No. 0, pp.261-281
Abbreviation: KASELL
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print) 2586-7474 (Online)
Received 27 Feb 2021 Revised 15 Mar 2021 Accepted 25 Mar 2021

Function Words as Markers of Translationese: A Corpus-based Approach to Mental Translation in Second Language Writing
Younghee Cheri Lee
Lecturer, Dept. of English Education, Chung-Ang University, Tel: 02-820-5391 (

© 2021 KASELL All rights reserved
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Driven by the linguistic values of closed-class words, this article seeks to provide a multifaceted account of function words as markers of translationese, thereby aiming to reconceptualize the universal trait of translational manifestations found in non-translated L2 writing. To that end, using comparable monolingual English corpora from two different disciplines, this study implemented a two-fold analysis to compare a conventional analytical model (i.e., “all-token variable” of function words) with a modified approach (i.e., “subset variables” of function words). The “all-token” method has been one of the most unstable measures in the studies of translation universals (TU) and still lacks a coherent understanding of how specific function words should be attested in their predictive roles in translationese. As contrasted with conventional TU assumptions, it was evidenced that the “all-token” function words outperformed only in a single domain, a result that distanced from the universal traits of translationese. Instead, as one of the subset variables, auxiliary verbs demonstrated a higher predictive and universal power as a newly attested translationese marker. Thus, this article argues that the notion of translationese should be reframed as “universal” translationese and “domain-specific” translationese, respectively. The rationale lies in that the predictive roles of subset function words have been overshadowed by the inconsistent analytical method implemented in translation studies to date.

Keywords: function words, translationese, Translation Universals (TU), mental translation, second language (L2) writing, non-nativeness

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