A Dictionary of Intonation

Well, there isn’t one. We’re used to that, and there are other problems translators and interpreters need solved sooner than that one. But to illustrate the problem let’s begin with this thing I just saw on Facebook:

“Insert the word ‘only’ anywhere in this sentence: ‘She told him she loved him’”

The meaning changes, depending on where the word “only” is inserted, and so would the translation, because other languages don’t necessarily use word order to modify meaning like English does. But as well as that, once you have inserted the word, you can place emphases on different words in the sentence which will further change the meaning, and hence the translation. We might be ringing you up to ask you to read the sentence out loud for us.

copyright © Chris Poole Translation