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Translating near-synonyms: Possibilities and preferences in the interlingua

By Philip Edmonds Department and Philip Edmonds


This paper argues that an interlingual representation must explicitly represent some parts of the meaning of a situation as possibilities (or preferences), not as necessary or definite components of meaning (or constraints). Possibilities enable the analysis and generation of nuance, something required for faithful translation. Furthermore, the representation of the meaning of words is crucial, because it specifies which nuances words can convey in which contexts. In translation it is rare to find the exact word that faithfully and directly translates a word of another language. Often, the target language will provide many near-synonyms for a source language word that differ (from the target word and among themselves) in nuances of meaning. For example, the French fournir could be translated as provide, supply, furnish, offer, volunteer, afford, bring, and so on, which differ in fine-grained aspects of denotation, emphasis, and style. (Figures 1 and 2 show some of the distinctions.) But none of these options may carry the right nuances to match those conveyed b

Publisher: Publications/ Abstracts/Theses/ EdmondsPhD-thabs.html
Year: 1998
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