An Introduction to the Ambiguity Tolerance: As a Source of Variation in English-Persian Translation

Hooshang Khoshsima, Seyyed Morteza Hashemi Toroujeni


Different individuals provide different translations of different qualities of the same text. This may be due to one’s dominant cognitive style and individuals’ particular personal characteristics (Khoshsima & Hashemi Toroujeni, 2017) in general or ambiguity tolerance in particular. A certain degree of ambiguity tolerance (henceforth AI) has been found to facilitate language learning (Chapelle, 1983; Ehrman, 1999; Ely, 1995). However, this influential factor has been largely overlooked in translation studies. The purpose of this study was to find the relationship between AT and translation quality by identifying the expected positive correlation between the level of AT and the numbers of translation errors. Out of the 56 undergraduates of English-Persian Translation at Chabahar Maritime University (CMU), a sample of 34 top students was selected based on their scores on the reading comprehension which enjoys a special focus in many contexts (Khoshsima & Rezaeian Tiyar, 2014) and structure subtests of the TOEFL. The participants responded to the SLTAS questionnaire for AT developed by Ely (1995). The questionnaire had a high alpha internal consistency reliability of .84 and standardized item alpha of .84. In the next stage of the research, the participants translated a short passage of contemporary English into Persian, which was assessed using the SICAL III scale for TQA developed and used by Canadian Government’s Translation Bureau as its official TQA model (Williams, 1989).  Then, to find the relationship between the level of ambiguity tolerance in undergraduates of English-Persian translation at Chabahar Maritime University and their translation quality, analysis of the collected data revealed a significant positive correlation (r=440, p<.05) between the participants’ degree of AT and the numbers of errors in their translations. Controlling for SL proficiency, the correlation was still significantly positive (r=.397, p<.05). Accordingly, it was concluded that the more intolerant of ambiguity a person is, the more errors s/he is likely to make while translating; conversely, the more tolerant of ambiguity a person is, the higher the quality of his/her translation will be. Therefore as expected, analysis of the data revealed a positive correlation throughout the sample between ambiguity intolerance and translation quality.



Ambiguity, Ambiguity (In)tolerance, Ambiguity (In)tolerance Level

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