Spanish Translation Blog: Spanish Translation US » Blog Archive » Disambiguation and Context

Disambiguation and Context

Every word has a meaning, but some words have more than one, such as homonyms: bark, bear, groom, etc. Sometimes a word means or symbolizes “something more” and the author can give it a special meaning or name (the best example is “Rosebud” from Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane).

The dictionary defines disambiguate as “to make clear and (more) comprehensible and to state unambiguously or remove ambiguities.” This is what we do as translators. And it’s not always easy.

There are of course texts that are extremely ambiguous, but generally, we have enough “clues” to decipher the true meaning.
So what is it that helps us decipher the clues? A translator’s best friend:  “the context.” The context is “the part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning.” In other words, it is the relationship one word has with the rest of the message.

The cartoon here presents ambiguity taken to the extreme…

No tags for this post.

Tags: