Authored by: Alan K. Melby , Arle Lommel , Lucía Morado Vázquez

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Technology

Print publication date:  November  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415524841
eBook ISBN: 9781315749129
Adobe ISBN: 9781317608158


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The term bitext was coined by Brian Harris in an article written in December 1987, while Harris was in Africa on leave from the University of Ottawa, and later published in Language Monthly (Harris 1988: 8–10). Harris described bitext (initially spelled with a hyphen, bi-text) as designating a new concept in translation theory, with its primary nature being psycholinguistic, even though it was seen to have applications in translation technology. According to Harris (ibid.), a bitext is a source text and its corresponding target text as they exist in the mind of a translator. As Harris points out, a human does not translate an entire text in one fell swoop but rather a segment at a time. Each segment of a source text is mentally linked to a corresponding segment of target text to form a cognitive translation unit. Segments can be phrases, clauses, or larger stretches of text. Together, the translation units of the bitext constitute the entire source and target texts ‘laminated’ to each other.

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