Degrees of indetermination 
in intersemiotic translation

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Discussing the problem of &#8216;intersemiotic translation&#8217; from literature to film Eco (2003) maintains that an adaptation inevitably explicates the unsaid, showing and therefore establishing a point of view precisely where the novel is vaguest. In my opinion a movie can create variable degrees of &#8216;indetermination&#8217;. Its peculiar status as a syncretic semiotic system gives the cinematic text plenty of scope for narrative, &#8216;figurative&#8217; (i.e. iconic) and discursive implications (Greimas 1984). The audiovisual image may be deliberately open to interpretations and free to not-show and <i>not</i>-say and can create potential elements of indetermination that enable the target text to translate the ambiguities and the semantic open-endedness of the source text. To illustrate these issues of indetermination I will use <i>Smoke</i> by Wayne Wang (USA 1995).


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