"There are many ways to translate it": Existential constructions in English-Chinese translation
The study is motivated by Mona Baker's (1992) observation that it is almost impossible to find a grammatical category which can be expressed uniformly and regularly across languages. The aim of the present study is to verify Baker's claim by investigating existential sentences from an English-Chinese contrastive perspective. The data was taken from the Babel English-Chinese Parallel Corpus, which is part-of-speech tagged and aligned at sentence level. Variation in the verbs used in English and Chinese existential clauses is discussed, and patterns of notional subjects (i.e. the noun phrase following the existential verb) and how they are translated are considered. The paper also looks into the applicability of Halliday's theme-rheme approach to studying Chinese existentials and proposes that the topic-prominence analysis offers a more cogent account for the findings reported here.