Onomatopoeia and Translation: A Corpus Approach

  • Ryoko SasamotoEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Sound book series (PASTS)


Unlike previous chapters, this chapter focuses on the translation of onomatopoeia. Its main aim is to show whether onomatopoeia is indeed difficult to translate and poses a challenge for translators, a commonly accepted view of onomatopoeia in Translation Studies. To this end, this study conducts a corpus-based analysis using the parallel corpus built with bilingual data from Cookpad. Findings from the corpus analysis show that the translation of onomatopoeia is in fact stable and straightforward, contrary to the assumption of previous studies. Furthermore, a close examination of the omission of onomatopoeia from translation reveals that onomatopoeia in these cases was not simply omitted for being too difficult to translate, but to achieve optimal relevance. The nature of onomatopoeia means that its translation is highly context bound and, as such, there seem to be limited established techniques. However, the careful examination of onomatopoeia and translation shows that the lack of direct equivalence does not necessarily result in difficulties in translation, and that it is the consideration of relevance that determines why and how the effect of onomatopoeia is translated.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SALISDublin City University SALISDublinIreland

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