Translation & Interpreting

Communication as Translation

This post is about what I learnt in class today.

Each communication act can be considered a translation. Not necessarily should communication acts be between two languages or cultures, you can even “translate” a thought into spoken words, a gesture into an explanation of its meaning and a book into a film, to make some examples.

In the video above there are some examples of translation, even in the broader meaning of the word:

  • Italian gestures are translated using an explanation of their meaning;
  • there’s an oral description, made by one of the travelers, of what a vigile does, and the other one is surprised to hear that in Italy a traffic warden carries a pistol. At the end of the video, there’s the typically Italian applause adressed to the pilot after a plane lands;
  • the captain translates his announcement into English by talking with a very strong Italian pronunciation and, when he doesn’t know how to translate something, he uses onomatopoeia.
  • there’s also the use of subtitles, i.e. a translation from oral verbal language into written one.
Advertisements
languages

When Foreign Tourists Are Lost in Translation

Thanks to a Facebook friend, I’ve just read a very interesting article. When it comes to giving pieces of information in English, Italian call center operators either have a hard time speaking in English or even hang up right after hearing “Hello”. Callers may have to wait for a long time, and sometimes pay a lot of money if they call a pay number. Of course there are exceptions, but they’re hard to find. In some cases, there’s the same number for asking information in both Italian and English, but you can’t always hear instructions in English (e.g. “If you’d like to talk to an English speaking operator, press 1”) and the people who answer calls are the same.

The article is in Italian, but there are videos with audio in both Italian and English. Sky.it called call centers of businesses that tourists might be interested in contacting (e.g. bike/car sharing services) based in Rome, Venice, Turin, Milan, Catania, Naples, Florence and Bologna.

I’m surprised that in Rome, caput mundi, “the world’s capital” according to a famous saying, very few call center operators contacted can speak English.

You can listen to all the conversations here.

Resources

English-Italian Business Glossary

Last year I made this bilingual (English and Italian) glossary for an English Interpreting exam. It contains marketing, finance, economics and business terms and expressions (one section of the glossary is dedicated to business-related idioms). You can find the references on the last page of the .pdf file (you need Adobe Reader to open it).

You can download it by clicking on the link below:

Ilaria Sclafani – Business English Glossary (.pdf, 1.6 MB)