On Information Density and Clause Linkage in Italian and Danish
This paper argues that both human translators and machine translation systems can greatly benefit from contrastive studies of text structure. Due to the great terminological and definitional confusion regarding structures in texts, the paper first discusses the main viewpoints on these issues and then outlines the two most significant differences between Italian and Danish text structure. One regards the notion of information density: Italian tends to accumulate the same information in shorter text spans and to include a larger number of Elementary Discourse Units in each sentence than Danish. The other regards clause linkage: A higher percentage of Italian clauses is morpho-syntactically and rhetorically subordinated by means of non-finite and nominalised verb forms. Danish text structure, on the other hand, is more informationally linear and characterised by a higher number of finite verbs and topic shifts. These typological differences are transferred into some simple translation rules concerning the number of Elementary Discourse Units per sentence and their textualisation. Each rule is illustrated by a number of examples taken from the parallel part of the Europarl Corpus.