Hedges and all that:is vagueness translatable?

Rios Garcia, Carmen (1997) Hedges and all that:is vagueness translatable? Babel, 43 (1). pp. 1-13. ISSN 1569-9668

Full text not available from this repository.


The following is a study of a set of various linguistic items, from the so-called discourse particles to whole clauses, which perform the pragmatic function of compromising. We discuss them here under the common heading "hedge". A revision of the literature on English hedges precedes what appear to be their semantic and pragmatic equivalents in Spanish, as illustrated by their distribution in the translation into Spanish of Julian Barnes' novel Talking It Over (Hablando del Asunto) and the English and Spanish editions of the Mediterranean Magazine, which are the reference points for the whole discussion. The formal divergences in the translation of hedges reflected in Hablando del Asunto converge upon the difficulty of rendering compromising attitudes, on the part of the speaker, by linguistic means which differ in the two languages. Whilst there is usually formal equivalence between English and Spanish as far as clause-terminal tags and disclaimers are concerned, the difficulties seem to be that the latter possesses a wider range of semantically equivalent verbs whereas the former resorts mainly to modal expressions and detensifying adverbs. Following Hübler's (1981) distinction between internal and external gradators, we envisage the differences in the distribution of hedges as being in strict correlation with a greater flexibility in the Spanish syntactic structure. The fact that the Spanish version lacks hedging devices present in the original leads us to consider the role of pragmatics in translation in order to account for vagueness as a linguistic phenomenon that reflects compromising attitudes on the part of the speaker which should be conveyed into the target language, if not by semantically equivalent phrases, at least by pragmatically equivalent means.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
15 Feb 2013 13:44
Last Modified:
19 Sep 2023 00:59