Comparable and Parallel Corpus Approaches to the Third Code

English and Chinese Perspectives

With increasing globalisation, translation has nowadays played an ever more important role than before in helping West to meet East or vice versa. Translation Studies is an area of research that has been both aided greatly and advanced by the corpus methodology over the past two decades. As translating is a kind of mediated communication involving different languages, the effect of the source language on the translation is inevitable and strong enough to make the translational language perceptibly different from the target native language.

This research project, which involves international collaboration between Lancaster University in the UK and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, is a corpus-based study of the common linguistic and textual features of translations, from the perspectives of English and Chinese, two genetically distinct major languages in the world, by taking an innovative composite methodology that combines the comparable corpus approach and the parallel corpus approach to language studies on the basis of sizable corpora of authentic language use in English and Chinese.

The combination of i) the balanced coverage of usage contexts in language use, ii) the strict comparability of the corpora used, iii) the typological distance between English and Chinese as two distinctly different languages, iv) the innovative composite corpus-based approach integrating comparable corpus and parallel corpus analysis, and v) the inclusion of register variation as a variable, will enable the researchers to investigate the linguistic and textual features of translational language more systematically and achieve more reliable research outcomes than ever before.

Research of this kind can cast new light on the translation process and help to uncover translation norms, which are of theoretical significance for Translation Studies as well as practical importance for translation teaching, translator training and translation practice.

The project is jointly funded by the ESRC in the UK and the Research Grant Council (RGC) in Hong Kong, with a worth of £98,461 plus HK$327,968. The project will last for 18 months starting in September 2013. For more information, please contact Dr Richard Xiao (, the PI of the project.


Principal Investigator: Richard Xiao

Research Associate: Xianyao Hu

Read the latest updates on this project:

  • Introducing the Corpus of Translational English (COTE) (10 September 2014)

    We are pleased to announce that CASS has recently compiled another new corpus, the Corpus of Translational English (COTE). The construction of COTE is supported by the joint ESRC (UK) – RGC (Hong Kong) research project, “Comparable and Parallel Corpus Approaches to the Third Code: English and Chinese Perspectives” (ES/K010107/1). The project is led by …

  • A new research associate has joined CASS (11 November 2013)

    A new research associate, Dr Xianyao Hu, has recently been appointed in the Department of Linguistics and English Language to work on the CASS project “Comparable and Parallel Corpus Approaches to the Third Code”, led by Dr Richard Xiao the PI of the project. Dr Hu is Professor of Translation Studies from Southwest University in China. …

  • Translation and contrastive linguistic studies at the interface of English and Chinese (1 November 2013)

    A forthcoming special issue of Corpus Linguistics and Linguistics Theory, which is guest-edited by Dr Richard Xiao and Professor Naixing Wei, President of the Corpus Linguistics Society of China, is now available online as Ahead of Print at the journal website. This special issue focuses on corpus-based translation and contrastive linguistic studies involving two genetically different …

  • Is translated Chinese still Chinese? (1 October 2013)

    Is translated Chinese still Chinese? Do translated English and translated Chinese have anything in common? Can the properties observed on the basis of translational English in contrast to comparable non-translated English be generalised to other translational languages? These interesting questions were explored in Dr Richard Xiao’s keynote lecture entitled “Translation universal hypotheses reevaluated from the …