Les Intraduisibles: English-Spanish


expect / hope / wait
The nouns expectation, hope, and waiting have neat equivalents in Spanish: la expectativa, la esperanza, la espera. By contrast, the verbs to expect, to hope, and to wait translate into one single verb: esperar. Linguistics or culture studies may be able to tell us something about the sources as well as the practical implications of this strange semantic ambivalence (trivalence). In any case, the one verb acting as a container of three meanings, may give rise to certain misunderstandings when it come to translation. Often, the original precision (in English or German or other languages) gets lost and it becomes unclear whether "esperar" refers to a state of cognitive confidence (expectation), an expression of optimism (hope), or an act of patience (waiting).

Schedler Andreas 5/29/2002