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Wordy Italian
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Aug 20, 2008

look at this:

ITALIAN "possano erogare prestazioni tali da conferire soddisfacente rispondenza ai requisiti richiesti "

ENGLISH "they perform as expected"

Sometimes I have trouble convincing clients that my translation is exactly what it says in the original.

Does this happen in other languages too?


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Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:09
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
A common issue in Romance languages Aug 20, 2008

I find this happens all the time in my language pair (Portuguese to English).

In fact, one of the recurring themes of my own translation process is to "cut, hack and chop" at the Portuguese source text to reduce it to its accurate conceptual equivalent in English. Portuguese tends to spell things out ("baroque verbiage used as a filler", as humorously described by a colleague), while English tends to be more compact and implicit. It's not uncommon for a 30-word Portuguese sentence to translate correctly into a 10-word English sentence. Generally, the difference seems to average out to about 20%.

For example, the Portuguese often say things like "durante o ano de 2008", where English would simply say "in 2008". In English, the number 2008 implies a year, and does not need to be explained. Translate too literally and it almost sounds like you are "talking down" to your audience.

In short, yes, I believe it's a very common theme when translating from most Romance languages.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:09
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Are you charging by Italian words? Aug 20, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

look at this:

ITALIAN "possano erogare prestazioni tali da conferire soddisfacente rispondenza ai requisiti richiesti "

ENGLISH "they perform as expected"

Sometimes I have trouble convincing clients that my translation is exactly what it says in the original.

Does this happen in other languages too?


Hi Tom,

The only thing to be said here is: Make sure you charge by Italian words, and enjoy the earnings you must get from it!


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:09
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
True, but... Aug 20, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

ITALIAN "possano erogare prestazioni tali da conferire soddisfacente rispondenza ai requisiti richiesti "

ENGLISH "they perform as expected"



Very true, we do tend to be unnecessarily verbose, but we are not alone:

US ENGLISH "Exercises careful deliberations before making judgements"
ITALIAN "Pensa prima di parlare"

US ENGLISH "Effectively establishes truly relevant objectives and performance standards"
ITALIAN "Severo ma giusto"

By the way, both US English examples are real ones, from a booklet on "effective phrases for performance appraisals" that was given to all managers at the company where I used to work a few years ago.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
reply to Riccardo Aug 20, 2008

Yes. but that's called "management speak" which is notoriously meaningless and uses lots of words to say mostly nothing. In general, an English translation will be about 20- 30% shorter than the Italian source.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
words in source text Aug 20, 2008

[/quote] Make sure you charge by Italian words, and enjoy the earnings you must get from it! [/quote]

Well, it's standard practice in Italian to English translation to charge per word in the Italian source text. Don't think it's easy to make money just because there are fewer words in the English translation! Great skill is required to understand what the Italian source means, and to have ready your own storehouse of succinct English language phrases that perfectly and comprehensively match without any loss, embellishment, or stylistic departure, exactly what was meant in the Italian original.

THAT is what I get paid for, not the number of words :=)

[Edited at 2008-08-20 15:25]


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Cetacea  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 03:09
English to German
+ ...
German as well Aug 20, 2008

German tends to be 15-20% longer than English as well, even though it's not necessarily because of verbosity, but because very often, words are simply, well, voluminous. Take this technical example: A "washer" in English is an "Unterlegscheibe" in German. Try to fit that into a drawing's tiny text box...

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Raffaella Panigada  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 03:09
Member (2007)
English to Italian
+ ...
Wordy or just plain bad Italian? Aug 20, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

look at this:

ITALIAN "possano erogare prestazioni tali da conferire soddisfacente rispondenza ai requisiti richiesti "

ENGLISH "they perform as expected"

Sometimes I have trouble convincing clients that my translation is exactly what it says in the original.

Does this happen in other languages too?


Hi Tom,

I'm aware Italian translations are generally longer than the English source text, but this really seems a bad case of having to puff up a 3-page report turning it into a 400 page tome (or a 3 liner into a 3-page article if you prefer). It sounds irritating even to Italian ears!

You could very well say:
- "affinché le prestazioni erogate soddisfino i prerequisiti"
- "affinché le prestazioni erogate diano risultati soddisfacenti/i risultati attesi"
- "per prestazioni conformi ai requisiti/alle attese"

Still longer but reasonable and comprehensible!
I'm also sure you'd find a thousand boring and verbose ways to express the same English concept in a similar long-winded over-inflated hyper-annoying style.

(No need to post each and every one of them, I'll trust you on that!)


[Edited at 2008-08-20 18:20]


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:09
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Cultures... Aug 20, 2008

UK English: "If you think so then I'll accept it, I really don't know, so I got no reason to disagree, carry on".

Same in US English: "Ok"


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:09
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It might be just legalese in any language Aug 20, 2008

I get the feeling that some lawyers are paid like translators, on a per-word basis, regardless of the language they use to write their agreements.

Things like:
... any and all XXXs, including each and every XXX, and excluding each and every non-XXX...
... when all XXXs and no others would certainly suffice.

In other cases, they resort to outer space and time travel:
... such goods for sale in all countries of the world now existing or to arise at any time in the future, and the universe in its entirety.

And finally, science fiction! This snippet was copied directly from an agreement I translated yesterday. After a really long list of technologies, they end with:
... as well as by any other technical procedure including those that may be invented in the future.


The worst of it is that the translator should not take the responsibility for simplyfying anything apparently obvious, because some or all of this verborrhage may have been left there on purpose, just to increase the chances of some detail slipping in (or out) unnoticed.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:09
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Think before you speak Aug 20, 2008

...is normal English for "Pensa prima di parlare". But there are one or two other idiomatic ways of saying it.
"Engage brain before opening mouth".
"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt".
And UK English is often more concise than US in the case of individual words.
US: automobile. UK: car.
US: transportation. UK: transport.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Sicko Aug 20, 2008

American: hospitalized. English: taken to hospital.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Spanish Aug 20, 2008

Spanish, like other Latin-based languages can get quite wordy depending on the writer. However, I have found that Mexican legal language, as horrible as it looks, generally comes out to about the same word count in English. In fact, some of it is much shorter:

"Notifíquese" = "It is ordered that notice be given" - 1 to 7

Some very wordy legal texts in English work out to even quite a bit more in Spanish, especially in contracts. Mexican contracts tend to be fairly simple.

In many types of work I have become an expert in using efficient Spanish due to space parameters.


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Claudia Ricci
Switzerland
Local time: 03:09
French to Italian
+ ...
Wor(die)st Italian of all Aug 20, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

look at this:

ITALIAN "possano erogare prestazioni tali da conferire soddisfacente rispondenza ai requisiti richiesti "

ENGLISH "they perform as expected"

Sometimes I have trouble convincing clients that my translation is exactly what it says in the original.

Does this happen in other languages too?


It is good to know that this is not real Italian, at least not in a certain sense
Italian is wordy all right.
But here you've come across Italian administrative language. It is, I guess, the worst of all for translators, because it is meant to be uncomprehensible PRIMARILY to Italian native speakers.
"Serious" Italian administrative language does exist: it is for example the language of some law texts. But this kind of language has gradually become a "sign of distinction" (not to mention the illusory power it gives to those using it), and therefore has been spreading like a disease in public administration language, and inevitably drifting towards caricature because, contrary to its apparent difficulty, it is very rarely appropriately used and mastered by its users. That's why Raffaella is so right: "wordy" is so often simply equal to "bad Italian".
Administrative language does not mean "used in administration": in Italy, you can find it in all kinds of contracts, notices, public signs, that is, where it's really useless.

The best example is from the Italian linguist Maurizio Dardano:

"La riscossione del pedaggio viene effettuata dal lato in cui opera l’esattore".
(cartello autostrada italiana)

"Pay here".
(cartello autostrada statunitense)

Luckily, things are changing. Italian past governments have conceived programs for the "Simplification of administrative language" in Italy. Let's hope it works!

All the best,
Claudia


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Response to Claudia Aug 21, 2008

Claudia - chapeau!

Your comment is most interesting and intelligent. You have reminded me of why, after more than 20 years, I decided despite how horrible the UK is in some ways, to move back here from Italy.

Deliberately writing things so that they are intentionally incomprehensible, to put the author in a position of power through obfuscation and mystification. Hmmm.

Where's my Foucault?

In which of Dardano's books did you find that bit about the motorway signs? I must read it !


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