Journal article

Constructive ambiguity and risk management in bilingual foreign-affairs texts. The case of “One China”

Hu Bei, Anthony Pym

Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies | Informa UK Limited | Published : 2019


Constructive ambiguity occurs when a text is construed in different ways by different people and those people nevertheless agree on the text. Its use in foreign affairs can enable major issues to remain unresolved over long periods. One instance is the series of “One China” communiqués in which the United States and the People’s Republic of China have appeared to agree on the sovereignty of Taiwan. An important feature of this particular ambiguity is constituted by the two Chinese-language versions of the verb “acknowledge,” which effectively allow the interpretation that the US agrees with Beijing’s position. This shift can be analyzed linguistically in terms of the hypothetical non-transla..

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University of Melbourne Researchers

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