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TIP #12 - This tip was sent on the week: 17th - 23th Oct, 2004

These tips apply to the following programs:

  • ESI Professional

Ambiguity - Author Number


There are many things you can learn when translating from English to Spanish and from Spanish to English. Things that are ambiguous in one language, might not be so in the other one, or vice versa.

Take, for instance, a simple imperative sentence such as “Drink your milk! “.

This has to be translated into Spanish as “Beba su leche!”. Right?



Why? Because the English sentence is ambiguous. It does not say whether you are talking to one person, or a group. For a group it would have to be:

Beban su leche.


The same thing happens when you translate the possessive adjective su into English. If someone tells you, Juan golpeó su carro en el parqueo, you might translate this as John bumped his car in the parking lot. But you might be in for a surprise if later on you find out that what that person meant to tell you was that John bumped your car in the parking lot.


Loose translations like these happen all the time in real life, even when human translators are involved. The way out of this dilemma – for a machine- is to have enough interactive controls, setting and startup parameters to afford the User the possibility of predetermining or choosing the correct words. And that’s exactly what ESI PRO accomplishes in the Interactive mode.


In the case of the imperative sentence you will find a setting that determines Plural or Singular Imperative. Look in the bottom toolbar (right hand corner), under Options/Translation/ Author Number/Singular or Plural.


Notice that you can also select Author Gender. With this option ESI will translate sentences like I am surprised as Estoy sorprendida (instead of sorprendido) everywhere a masculine/feminine ambiguity occurs throughout the text.


More of this will be dealt with in a following tip. Our newly launched online program “Animated Demo” also deals briefly with these options. We invite you to take the Tour.

NOTE: To view an index of all tips click here. To download the complete collection of tips click here.

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