Publication details [#47969]

Alvstad, Cecilia. 2008. Ambiguity translated for children: Andersen’s “Den standhaftige Tinsoldat” as a case in point. Target 20 (2) : 222–248.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company


This article addresses ambiguity in translations for children. ‘Ambiguity’, here understood as something that allows for more than one interpretation, is supposed to be critical in translation for children as it clashes with some mediators’ ideas of what children’s literature is or ought to be. Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of “Den standhaftige Tinsoldat” [‘The steadfast tin soldier’] and a sample of twenty-four translations thereof (twelve into Swedish and twelve into Spanish) are used to explore different ways that ambiguity is translated for children. The objective is to determine if and how the tale’s ambiguities are manipulated in the various translations, and thus to initiate a theoretical discussion of ambiguity in translation for children. A difference is established between ‘textually resolvable’ and ‘textually irresolvable’ ambiguities and these two kinds of ambiguity are found to be treated differently in the analyzed sample of translations.