Information-structure strategies in English/Spanish translation

Ángel L. Jiménez-Fernández


This paper discusses information structure-based strategies that could be used in translating from English to Spanish. It is widely observed that many problems arise in translation when establishing the theme/topic and providing the focus content in the target language, given the grammatical instruments available in the source language. It is extremely important to use similar discourse mechanisms to present the same message in exactly the same terms from an information-structure point of view. This means that the syntactic configuration may be different in the source and target texts. I focus on three information structure phenomena, namely Passive, Topic Fronting and Negative Preposing in the two languages, to analyse the preservation of the discourse flow in various translations for the optimal use of the relevant constructions.



Information structure; translation strategies; passive; topic; focus; English/Spanish

Full Text:



Albrecht, N. 2005. Competence in Language, in Languages, and in Translation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Austen, J. 2006. Orgullo y Prejuicio. [orig. Pride and Prejudice]. Translated by J. L. López Muñoz. Madrid: Alianza.

Baker, M. 2006. In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation. New York: Routledge.

Bianchi, V. and M. Frascarelli. 2010. “Is Topic a Root Phenomenon?” Iberia: An International Journal of Theoretical Linguistics 2: 43-8.

Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S. and E. Finegan, E. 1999. Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Birner, B. J. 1994. “Information Status and Word Order: An Analysis of English Inversion”. Language 70 (2): 233-259.

Birner, B. J. and G. Ward. 1998. Information Status and Noncanonical Word Order in English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Büring, D. 2016. Intonation and Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chafe, W. 1987. “Cognitive Constrains on Information Flow”. Coherence and Grounding in Discourse. Ed. R. Tomlin. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 21-51.

Cheng, S. 2012. “A Short Analysis of Information Structures of English Sentences”. Theory and Practice in Language Studies 2 (3): 492-497.

Dejica, D. 2009. “Probing for relevance: Information Theories and Translation”. Elope 6: 81-99.

Erteschik-Shir, N. 2007. Information Structure: The Syntax-Discourse Interface. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fernández-Soriano, O. 1999. “Two Types of Impersonal Sentences in Spanish”. Syntax 2 (2): 101-140.

Frascarelli, M. 2007. “Subjects, Topics and the Interpretation of Referential pro. An Interface Approach to the Linking of (Null) Pronouns”. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 25: 691-734.

Gussenhoven, C. 1994. “Focus and Sentence Accents in English”. Focus and Natural Language Processing Vol. 3. Ed. P. Bosch and R. Van Der Sandt. Heidelberg: IBM. 83-92.

Haegeman, L. 2012. Adverbial Clauses, Main Clause Phenomena, and the Composition of the Left Periphery. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. 1985. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Harper Lee, N. 2011. Matar un Ruiseñor [orig. To Kill a Mockingbird], translated by B. Porta. Madrid: Ficción Zeta.

Huddleston, R. and G. Pullum. 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hurtado Albir, A. 2001. Traducción y Traductología. Madrid: Cátedra.

Jiménez-Fernández, Á. L. 2010. “Discourse-Agreement Features, Phasal C and the Edge: A Minimalist Approach”. Diacrítica – Language Sciences Series 24 (1): 25-49.

Jiménez-Fernández, Á. L. 2016. “When Discourse Met Null Subjects”. Borealis: An International Journal of Hispanic Linguistics 5 (2): 173-189.

Jiménez-Fernández, Á. L. 2018. “Negative Preposing: Intervention and Parametric Variation in Complement Clauses”. Atlantis: Revista de la Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos 40 (1): 11-37.

Jiménez-Fernández, Á. L. and S. Miyagawa. 2014. “A Feature-Inheritance Approach to Root Phenomena and Parametric Variation”. Lingua 145: 275-302.

Kim, J-S. 2003. “Syntactic Focus Movement and Presentational There-Constructions”. Studies in Generative Grammar 13: 235-252.

Korzen, I. and M. Gylling. 2012. “Text Structure in a Contrastive and Translational Perspective”. Translation: Corpora, Computation, Cognition 2: 23-46.

Krifka, M. 2007. “Basic Notions of Information Structure”. Interdisciplinary Studies on Information Structure. Ed. C. Féry and M. Krifka. Potsdam: ISIS, Universitätverlag Potsdam. 13-55.

Kuno, S. and K.-I. Takami. 2004. Functional Constraints in Grammar: On the Unergative-Unaccustive Distinction. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Leech, G. and J. Svartvik. 2013. A Communicative Grammar of English. 3rd edition. London: Routledge.

Leonetti, M. 2014. “Gramática y Pragmática en el Orden de Palabras”. Lingüística en la Red 12: 1-25.

Leonetti, M. and V. Escandell. 2009. “Fronting and Verum Focus in Spanish.” Focus and Background in Romance Languages. Ed. by A. Dufter and D. Jacob. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 155-204.

López, L. 2008. “The [Person] Restriction: Why? And, Most Specially, Why Not?”. Agreement Restrictions. Ed. R. D'Alessandro, S. Fischer, G. H. Hrafnbjargarson. The Hague: Mouton de Gruyter. 129-158.

Lozano, C. and A. Mendikoetxea. 2010. “Interface Conditions on Postverbal Subjects: A Corpus Study of L2 English”. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 13 (4): 475-497.

Miyagawa, S. 2012. “Agreements that Occur Mainly in Main Clauses”. Main Clause Phenomena. New Horizons. Eds. L. Aelbrecht, L. Haegeman, and R. Nye. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 79-112.

Newmark, P. 1988. Approaches to Translation. Hertfordshire: Prentice Hall.

Orwell, G. 2010. Homage to Catalonia. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Poe, E. A. 2000. El gato negro [orig. The Black Cat]. Translated by L.-F. Rodríguez Palomero and S. Rodríguez Guerrero-Strachan. Cuentos insólitos. Relatos cortos en lengua inglesa. Valladolid: Ediciones Universidad de Valladolid.

Prince, E. 1981. “Towards a Taxonomy of Given-New Information”. Radical Pragmatics. Ed. P. Cole. New York: Academic Press. 223-256.

Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G. and J. Svartvik. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. Harlow: Longman.

Radford, A. 2009. Minimalist Syntax. Cambridge, UK: CUP.

Reinhart, T. 1982. “Pragmatics and Linguistics: An Analysis of Sentence Topics”. Philosophica 27: 53-94.

Stevens, J. S. 2013. Information Structure, Grammar and Strategy in Discourse. PhD dissertation University of Pennsylvania.

Vallduví, E. and M. Vilkuna.1998. “On rheme and contrast”. The Limits of Syntax. Eds. P. W. Culicover and L. McNally. San Diego: Academic Press. 79-108.

Vasconcellos, M. 1992. “Text and Translation: The Role of Theme and Information”. Ilha do Desterro: A Journal of English Language, Literature in English, and Cultural Studies 27: 45-66.

Zubizarreta, M. L. 1998. Word Order, Prosody and Focus. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Copyright (c) 2020 Journal of English Studies

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

EISSN 1695-4300