• ISSN 1598-7647
  • E-ISSN: 2451-909X
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The aim of this paper is to discuss if ambiguity limits translation. A theoretical distinction is made between intentional ambiguity and fortuitous ambiguity. Whereas intentional ambiguity is seen to be a matter of consciousness possessing a communicational value, fortuitous ambiguity, being a matter of language, is devoid of communicational value. In the first case, the translator is expected to recreate the special effect produced in the source text by the original author. In the second case, the translator can treat the polysemic or homonymic term as if it were monosemic. In the second part of the paper, a processoriented experimental on-line study carried out on three expert translators sets out to test to what degree fortuitous ambiguities are felt to be problematic. One occurrence of fortuitous ambiguity is analysed in-depth. Although polysemy gives rise to multiple interpretations, the processual data show that the expert translators are not even aware of the «ambiguity potential» in the polysemic word in the utterance. Their focus being on making sense in the target text, their cognitive efforts are solely directed towards decision-making on other levels, such as establishing lexical precision, clarity, and text coherence. Ambiguity does not appear to be a problem of translation.


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