Another case of firstname ambiguity: ‘Noël’

Translation of the French word ‘Noël’ yields another case of ambiguity. For ‘Noël’ can translate:

  • either into Natali (Christmas, Christmas Day): the annual festival commemorating Jesus Christ’s birth
  • or into, identically, Natali (‘Noel‘): the firstname

Now it seems there is no case of disambiguation, since in either case, ‘Noël’ in French translates into Natali (Natali in sartinese and taravese variants; Natale in cismuntincu variant). But ambiguity lurks when one considers some sentences including ‘Noël’. Let us consider then the following sentence: ‘Je l’ai donné à Noël.’ Now it can be translated:

 

  • either into: L’aghju datu in Natali. (I gave it at Christmas.)
  • or into: L’aghju datu à Natali (I gave it to Noel.)

since French preposition ‘à’ translates differently in both cases. A phenomenon of the same nature occurs when one considers translation from French to English.

Interestingly, when the two ambiguous consecutive words are repeated, ambiguity vanishes. Since ‘Je l’ai donné à Noël à Noël.’ translates unambiguously into L’aghju datu à Natali in Natali (I gave it to Noel at Christmas.). For we can ignore the order: L’aghju datu in Natali à Natali (I gave it at Christmas to Noel.) amounts to the same. In this last case, the  translation is meaning-preserving.

 

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