Substitution and Ellipsis in the Translation of English-Swahili Healthcare Texts

Douglas Ondara Orang’i


Even though substitution and ellipsis contribute to text cohesiveness just like any other cohesive device, the two grammatical cohesive devices are largely understudied. Focusing on the interplay between translation and cohesion, this study delves into the translation of substitution and ellipsis in Swahili healthcare texts. This study, theoretically anchored on Descriptive Translation Studies, set out to unravel the use of substitution and ellipsis and establish if there is any variation in the use of the two grammatical cohesive devices in the translated Swahili healthcare texts. The data used in the study is extracted from Orang’i (2020) doctoral study. Substitution and ellipsis are the basis for the manual comparison of the coupled pairs from the sample texts. The study has established that ellipsis and substitution are used sparingly in the texts. Though the use of substitution is limited, it emerged that clausal and nominal substitutions were prevalent. Equally, the use of ellipsis is almost non-existent in the Swahili healthcare texts though present in the source texts. The foregoing points to an endeavour by translators to make explicit that which is implicit in the source text and this led to the conclusion that explicitation is a norm in the translation of Swahili healthcare texts. The two cohesive devices are largely about one’s choice and can, to some extent, be avoided or minimally used. Overall, it was implied that substitution and ellipsis are not preferred cohesive devices in Swahili healthcare texts.


Substitution, Ellipsis, Cohesion, Healthcare, Translation, Swahili, Descriptive Translation Studies

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