Sunday 01st of October 2023


Is Contamination Good or Bad? A Corpus-assisted Case Study in Translating Evaluative Prosody


Mélanie Frank, Francesca Bartolesi, Silvia Bernardini e Alan Partington, Università di Bologna pdf_icon_30x30


melanie.frank(at), francesca.bartolesi(at), silvia.bernardini(at), alanscott.partington(at)


Abstract: In this article we showcase the relevance of corpus evidence in examining potential differences in evaluative prosody in the use of two seeming translation equivalents, namely the Italian noun contaminazione and its French "lookalike" contamination. Our analysis suggests that, when the item is used literally, its evaluative prosody is negative in both languages. However, when used figuratively (particularly in cultural and artistic contexts) the prosody of the Italian contaminazione is neutral or positive, whereas this figurative, positive use does not appear to be shared by French contamination. On the basis of these observations, we reflect on the role of corpus analysis in raising awareness of evaluative prosody, in particular how the “same” item can have a different evaluative prosody when used literally or figuratively, and how lookalike items can have a different evaluative prosody across languages – an especially tricky issue for language learners and professionals. In the final part of our work, we make proposals for a further, more exploratory use of corpus methods (relying in particular on collocates) for identifying cross-linguistic correspondences.


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