December 2007. Volume 2 Issue 3
Translating Topic-Comment Structures of Vietnamese into English
Pham Phu Quynh Na
University of Western Sydney, Australia
Pham Phu Quynh Na’s teaching experience include teaching English to Vietnamese and Korean university students at University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for 7 years, tutoring Singaporean students at National University of Singapore for 2 years, teaching Hong Kong and Korean teenagers/ students for EF Language Travel, ABC Study Groups, and some other colleges in Australia. She is now teaching Vietnamese and ESL to adult learners at Sydney Community College and at MTC Training Solutions in Australia. She also worked as an educational writer and a professional translator in Australia. Her research interest include: Translation Studies, Vietnamese-English Translation, Error Corpus, Functional Grammar and its application in Vietnamese Language, Translation and Language Teaching.
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Previous research on the syntactic typology of Vietnamese language has led to two controversial findings. One set of studies has claimed that the Vietnamese language is a subject-prominent language (Ly 1948, Chinh & Le 1973, Ban 1987, Thin 2001). The other states that the basic structure of Vietnamese manifests a topic-comment relation rather than a subject-predicate relation (Thompson 1965, Dyvik 1984, Hao 1991, Anh 2000). With the assumption that Vietnamese is a topic-prominent language, the aim of the study is to investigate the extent to which the typological differences between the two languages influence the process of translating authentic Vietnamese sentences into English. The subjects include 15 students from the Department of English Languages and Literature at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The data is the translation texts into English of these 15 students from the same source text in Vietnamese. This paper also offers some practical guidelines and suggests a strategy for students to produce intelligible translations of these Topic-Comment structures of Vietnamese.
Keywords: Vietnamese-English translation, language teaching, Vietnamese syntax, contrastive linguistic, typology, translation in language teaching