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Parallel text

From Teflpedia

A parallel text or dual-language text is a text (usually a written text) which is in two languages. In the TEFL context these will usually be English and the student’s L1.

Some Shakespeare plays are available in as parallel texts with the original Shakespearean English alongside contemporary English, so it’s not only L1-English. Subtitles are also arguable a form of parallel text.

They are quite popular in China, especially with original (hard) literature which is public domain, and a cheap locally-produced translation.

Pedagogical research will probably show that these are not as good as graded readers because (1) they are too hard, so acquisition is hampered because students are presented with structures that are beyond their comprehension level, and (2) they encourage translation. There may be inaccuracies in the translation provided.

Examples[edit | edit source]

English v. French[edit | edit source]

Here is a short example, based on the French fairytale La Belle et la Bête (The Beauty and the Beast):

English French
The Beauty and the Beast La Belle et la Bête
Once upon a time, there was a wealthy merchant who had three daughters. The youngest was the most beautiful of the three. One day, the merchant lost his fortune and had to leave the city to live in the countryside with his children. There, they had to live very modestly. One day, the merchant got lost in the forest and stumbled upon a castle where he found refuge for the night. The next morning, he saw roses in the garden and picked one for his favourite daughter. That’s when a monster appeared and accused him of theft. Il était une fois un riche marchand qui avait trois filles. La plus jeune était la plus belle des trois. Un jour, le marchand perdit sa fortune et dut quitter la ville pour aller vivre à la campagne avec ses enfants. Là-bas, ils durent vivre très modestement. Un jour, le marchand se perdit dans la forêt et tomba sur un château où il trouva refuge pour la nuit. Le lendemain matin, il vit des roses dans le jardin et en cueillit une pour sa fille préférée. C’est alors qu’un monstre apparut et l’accusa de vol.
The monster was the master of the castle and had a condition for letting the merchant go: he had to give him one of his daughters in exchange. The merchant, who loved his children very much, agreed to leave his favourite daughter behind and go. The young girl arrived at the castle and discovered that the monster was actually a cursed prince. She got to know him and love him, and eventually broke the curse by agreeing to marry him. Le monstre était le maître du château et avait une condition pour laisser le marchand partir : il devait lui donner l’une de ses filles en échange. Le marchand, qui aimait beaucoup ses enfants, accepta de partir en laissant sa fille préférée derrière lui. La jeune fille arriva au château et découvrit que le monstre était en fait un prince maudit. Elle apprit à le connaître et à l’aimer, et finit par briser la malédiction en acceptant de l’épouser.
They got married and the curse was broken. The prince turned back into his human form and they lived happily ever after. Ils se marièrent et la malédiction fut brisée. Le prince redevint humain et ils vécurent heureux pour toujours.

Shakespeare[edit | edit source]

Here is Juliet’s soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 2, alongside a version in contemporary English:

Original Contemporary

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name,
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

Oh Romeo, Romeo, why do you have to be Romeo?
Reject your father and give up your last name,
Or if you won’t do that, just pledge your love to me,
And I’ll stop being a Capulet.

’Tis but thy name that is my enemy:
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

It’s only your name that is my enemy;
You are yourself, even though you’re not a Montague.
What is a Montague? It’s not a hand, not a foot,
Not an arm, not a face, nor any other part
Of a man. Oh, why can’t you have a different name?
What’s in a name? A thing we call a rose
Would smell just as sweet if we called it something else;
Just as Romeo would, if not called Romeo,
Still be perfect — that is not dependent
On his name. So, Romeo, give up your name,
And instead of that name, which is not part of you,
Take all of me.

References[edit | edit source]