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A Prototypical Study of Passives and the Translation in Pride and Prejudice

Author: WangMei
Tutor: SunXiaoHong
School: Shandong University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Passive voice prototype theory Pride and Prejudice translation
CLC: H315.9
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 156
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Passive voice, a very important and common linguistic phenomenon in both English and Chinese, remains a difficult point for foreign language learners. Besides, it is also a hot topic discussed by every grammatical school. Traditional grammar, systemic functional grammar and Transformational-Generative (TG) grammar were all concerned with passive voice and made great contributions, but each has their own limitations. For example, the classification of passive voice made by the representative of traditional grammar Randolph Quirk, did not reveal the status of different kinds of passive voice and their relationships. The researches conducted by systemic functional grammar and TG grammar were all aimed at serving their own main theory, instead of studying passive voice particularly. It is the research conducted by cognitive grammar that offers a new perspective for current study. Cognitive grammar advocates the choice of voice depends on how the speaker construes an event.Cognitive linguistics is a new linguistic paradigm which came into being in the1970s. Prototype theory is one of the most important research fields in cognitive linguistics. Prototype, the best exemplar of a category, the one located at the center of the category, acquired the earliest, and remembered the most easily by people, is regarded as the official member of the category. The other non-official members are related to the prototype by family resemblance.This thesis adopts Professor Wang Zhijun’s cognitive analysis of passive voice based on prototype theory to study the passives in Pride and Prejudice. According to Professor Wang, passive voice can be seen as a grammatical category. English prototypical passives consist of agentful passive and agentless passive, and non-prototypical passives consist of stative passive and medio-passive which can be further divided into get-passive and semi-passive. Chinese prototypical passives consist of agentful passive and agentless passive, and non-prototypical passives consist of stative passive and medio-passive. Previous research on the passives in Pride and Prejudice was generally confined to the first30pages. The present study is designed to have an examination of the passives which appear in the whole novel. All the passives in the novel were picked out and divided into different kinds based on Wang Zhijun’s classification under the framework of prototype theory. The features of each type and how non-prototypical passives deviate from the prototypes and share the features with the prototypes through family resemblance were first examined before classification. Then the number of the passives in total and in each type was counted by hand. In order to further examine how these passives were translated into Chinese, the version of Pride and Prejudice translated by Wang Keyi was chosen. Wang’s version, revised and republished time after time for its highly-received praises, earned a solid reputation among Chinese readers. The ways of their translations were thoroughly studied and summarized.The results reveal that there are1,984passives in total in Pride and Prejudice, with agentless passive ranking the first, medio-passive the next, stative passive the third and agentful passive the last. The study also gets to the conclusion that there is no correspondence between English and Chinese prototypical passives and non-prototypical ones in translation. Only62English passives are translated into Chinese bei-construction. The most frequently used method to translate English passives is to translate them into Chinese active sentences. The next frequently used method is to translate them into Chinese stative passives. The reasons for such translation strategies are given in the hope of enhancing the E-C passive voice translation abilities of Chinese learners of English.

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