Italian as a language to learn for translation
Thread poster: Jason Cronin

Jason Cronin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:22
Spanish to English
Apr 30, 2013

Hello all,

I currently work as a Spanish—>English translator, and I know a good deal of Italian. I'd like to know what you think about developing Italian to become a tertiary language, essentially a working language. Looking at the job boards, it doesn't look too bad, and some of the jobs I've bid for in the past have had a lot less people bidding Italian—>English.

What do you think? Is the market there for Italian to English?


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:52
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
There is more to think of here than the market May 1, 2013

Unless you have been exposed to Italian at a very young age - opinion varies here from less than 5 years to less than 20 - and unless you have been constantly in contact with the Italian language throughout your life, you will be unable to pick up enough Italian at this age, however hard you try - there are biological limitations to learning languages in adulthood.

Therefore, at the most, you will be able to use Italian only as a second language or source language from which you may be able to translate. Even there, unless you fulfill the early exposure and continued exposure criteria mentioned above you will not fare as well as those translators who fulfill this condition.

You of course will not be able to translate into Italian by learning it now.

So, the question that is more relevant to you, or for anybody else, is will it be biologically possible for you to learn Italian, and not whether the market in Italian is vigorous.

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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Can't see any reason why not... May 1, 2013

If you have the time and resources for it, I'd say go for it. It's something that I've been considering as well, only I was looking at German.

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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:22
Italian to English
Spanish-Italian interference May 1, 2013

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

Therefore, at the most, you will be able to use Italian only as a second language or source language from which you may be able to translate.

That, of course, is precisely what Jason intends to do

The problem is not so much learning Italian as learning to distinguish Italian from Spanish, and indeed from any other neo-Latin languages or dialects that you may know. This goes far beyond misleading homophones (chica/cicca springs to mind) to grammar - for example, Spanish and Italian speakers use the subjunctive mood rather differently - stylistic expectations, cultural references and in general the way native speakers cast their thought.

It is terribly easy to misinterpret Italian if you are coming from Spanish (I speak from experience!). Triston's suggestion of a non-cognate language like German is a good one, I'd have thought.

As for the market, IT-EN is like most others: overcrowded and underpaid at the bottom but better at the top, where there are still plenty of clients who put quality before price. Payment practices are often deplorable but you will know all about that from the Hispanosphere.

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Italian as a language to learn for translation

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