Gendered Existence? Existential-There Construction in English-Polish Translation


  • Andrzej Łyda University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland



gender, existential there-clause, translation, English, Polish


This paper analyses a possible effect of the variable of gender on semantic enrichment of existential sentences translated from English to Polish. Existential-there clauses in English typically take the form there + be + indefinite NP (+place/time adverbial). Since there-constructions lack a structurally congruent counterpart in Polish, they can be rendered in Polish with several syntactic constructions ranging from the verb ‘być’ (E. to be) through ‘mieć’ (E. to have) to verbs semantically richer than ‘być’ (e.g., verbs of perception, verbs of location, etc). We ask the question of whether the gender factor is correlated with the factor of text type/genre. To this purpose, we compiled a corpus of English texts representing belles-lettres and popular science writing, male-authored, female-authored and multi-authored and translated by male and female translators. Our preliminary results show that the choice of  Polish translations of English existential-there follows from the interplay of genre, narrative/descriptive modes of text, and the gender of the translator, with female translators tending to replace the simple copula ‘be’ with a full lexical verb more often than male translators in dialogic parts of belle-lettres.

Author Biography

Andrzej Łyda, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland


Adam, M. (2011). Towards a Syntactic-Semantic Typology of Presentation Scale Sentences in Fiction Narratives. Brno Studies in English 37/1, 5-19.

Adam, M. (2013). Presentation Sentences. Syntax, semantics and FSP. Brno: Masyryk University.

Benbow, C. (1988), Sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability in intellectually talented preadolescents. Their nature, effects, and possible causes. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 11, 169-232.

Breivik, L. (1981). On the interpretation of existential there. Language, 57, 1-25.

Breivik, L. (1983). Existential There. A Synchronic and Diachronic Study. Bergen: University of Bergen.

Dušková, L. (2005a). Syntactic Constancy of the Subject Complement. Part 2: A Comparison between English and Czech. Linguistica Pragensia, 15(1), 1-17.

Dušková, L. (2005b). From the Heritage of Vilém Mathesius and Jan Firbas: Syntax in the Service of FSP. In: Chovanec, J. (ed.) Theory and Practice in English Studies, 3: Proceedings form the 8th Brno Conference of English, American and Canadian Studies. Brno: Masaryk University, 7-23.

Fauconnier, G. (1985). Mental spaces. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Firbas, J. (1992) Functional sentence perspective in written and spoken communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Jespersen, O. (1969). Analytic Syntax. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Gal, S. (1991. Between speech and silence: The problematics of research on language and gender. In M. di Leonardo (ed.), Gender at the (crossroads of knowledge: Feminist anthropology in the postmodern era. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 175-203.

Grzegorek, M. (1984). English sentences with introductory there and their Polish counterparts. In Fisiak, J. (ed.) Contrastive Linguistics: Prospects and Problems. Berlin: Mouton Publishers, 143-169.

Halpern, D. (2012). Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities. New York: Psychology Press.

Harris, L. (1978).Sex differences in spatial ability: possible environmental, genetic and neurological factors. In M. Kinsbourne, (ed.), Asymmetrical Function of the Brain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 405-522.

Langacker, R. (2008). Cognitive Grammar: A basic introduction. Oxford: Oxford.

Lakoff, G. (1987). Women, fire, and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, R. (1975). Language and Women’s Place. New York: Harper Colophon Books.

Lambrecht, K. (1994). Information Structure and Sentence Form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lumsden, M. (1988). Existential sentences: their structure and meaning. London: Routledge.

Łyda, A. (2003). Emotive Markers: Gender Differences in Translation. In M. Gonçalves de Abreu and M. de Castro (eds.) Estudos de Tradução. Actas de Congresso Internacional de Estudos de Tradução. Cascai: Principial Publicacoes Universitarias e Cientificas, 183-194.

Magnifico, C., and B. Defrancq (2020). Norms and gender in simultaneous interpreting : a study of connective markers. Translation & Interpreting-The International Journal of Translation and Interpreting, 12(1), 1–17.

McGuiness, D. (1985). When Children Don't Learn. New York: Basic Books.

Muchnik, M. (1997). Men vs. women – Different communication patterns. Hebrew Linguistics 41–42: 79–86.

Mulac, A. and T. Lundell (1994). Effects of gender-linked language differences in adults’ written discourse: multivariate tests of language effects. Language and Communication 14: 299–309.

Petronienė, E. (2007). The order of thought and the order of words. Kalbotyra, 57, 204-210.

Quirk, R., S. Greenbaum, G. Leech, and J. Svartvik (1985). A comprehensive grammar of the English language. Harlow: Longman.

Rambousek, J. and J. Chamonikolasová (2008) The Existential There-Construction in Czech Translation. In G. Anderman and M Rogers (eds.) Incorporating Corpora: The Linguist and the Translator. Multilingual Matters.

Saldanha, G.(2003). Investigating gender-related linguistic features in translation. In J. Santaemilia (ed.) Género, lenguaje y traducción: actas del Primer Seminario Internacional sobre Género y Lenguaje (el género de la traducción - la traducción del género).València: Universitat de València, 420–432.

Shlesinger, M., M. Koppel, N. Ordan, and B. Malkie. (2009). Markers of translator gender: Do they really matter? Copenhagen Studies in Language. 38, 183-198.

Tannen, D. (1992). You Just Don’t Understand. London, England: Virago Press.

Tárnyiková, J. (2009). From text to texture: an introduction to processing strategies.

Olomouc: Palacký University.Tannen, D. 1990. You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation..New York: Balantine Books.

Thorne, B. and N. Henley (eds.) (1987). Language and Sex. Difference and Dominance, Massachusetts, Newbury House Publishers

Zasiekin, S. and D. Zasiekina (2016).Gender Cognitive and Behavioral Asymmetry in Translating. East European Journal of Psycholinguistics, 3(2), 122-131.




How to Cite

Łyda, A. . (2021). Gendered Existence? Existential-There Construction in English-Polish Translation. East European Journal of Psycholinguistics, 8(2).



Vol 8 No 2 (2021)