Spoiled for choice? Uncertainty facing options in translation


  • Celia Martín de León Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • José María Cardona Guerra


Translation process, uncertainty, choice network analysis, hesitation, translation options.


Uncertainty is inherent to translating. Texts tend to have many valid renditions, and the outcome of a translation can never be fully anticipated. This study investigates the relationship between uncertainty in translation and the range of options available to translation students. To do so, we applied Muñoz & Cardona’s (2019) approach to task segmentation and pause analysis to study translation processes in 19 translation trainees working on the same source text with a key-logger. We identified 10 potential hesitation indicator types in the key-logged processes. Target texts were then scrutinized using choice network analysis (Campbell, 2000) in order to identify and quantify the choices made by the participants. The relationship between the quantified hesitation indicators and the number of options for each segment was explored, and no correlation was found between them. Participants did not always hesitate between all available options, their decisions did not always determine further ones in a linear way, and indecision sometimes remained after the end of the process. The results suggest that decision making processes in translation cannot be fruitfully approached as games with complete information, but they could be explained from a broader perspective that accounts for risk taking and incomplete information.