Institutional Sites: the Italian Ministry of Justice and Arma dei Carabinieri

From the site of the “Arma dei Carabinieri,” (the Italian military police force):

NATO Missions

The tasks of [Multinational Specialized Unit] at regimental level consists of public security, assistance in the return of refugees, implementation of local government structures elected by minority groups as well as a contribution in the management of the critical situation regarding law and order in coordination with the IPTF.

International Police Cooperation

The Carabinieri Force has taken specific initiatives following guidelines on cooperation from the Ministries of Defence and Internal Affairs to collaborate in association with other national military and police organizations in order to export national intelligence gained from experience in organized crime.

Coordination of the Police Force

Because of the pluralistic nature of pubblic law and order management in Italy with two major Forces, namely the Police and the Carabinieri, a definite procedure is required for coordination purposes in order to carry out these duties efficiently.

The system is defined in the Law no. 121, dated 1st April 1981, which requires a model of coordination and close unified cooperation to obtain the best possible result for all the Forces concerned and to strengthen each individual component.

[The responsibilities of the Carabinieri General Headquarters include]:

– liaison with Ministries, Public Administration Departments and when required with international organizations, however, depending on its functions by the Ministry of Interior. Decision making is concentrated on the Force Commander General and the Chief of Staff.

From the official Italian Ministry of Justice site:

The Ministry of Justice’s international activities have, by now, taken on a role of primary importance within the context of Italian international relations…. In the absence of a meaningful collaboration between countries and a rational legislative framework (supporting such co-operation and making it possible), many relations under both civil and commercial law would remain dependant on often heterogeneous and sometimes contradictory national legislative systems. The problem is even more acute when trying to mount effective operations combating all forms of crime (particularly organised crime) and terrorism.


Comment: This is pure Engliano: errors are scattered throughout the text and the sentence structure and syntax remain entirely Italian. (The convoluted description under “International Police Cooperation,” for example, has been translated in such a way that it means almost nothing. In addition, the text contains an unintentional joke: Do the Carabinieri intend to “export the intelligence” that has come from their experience in organized crime—or the intelligence they’ve gathered in fighting organized crime? One hopes the latter, but the text is far from precise.) The “translator” substituted English words for Italian ones, but did not actually translate—that is, he or she failed to create a text written in fluent, native, meaningful English.

In the excerpt from the Ministry of Justice’s site, note the failure of meaning in the first sentence, which tells us that “international activities have assumed an important role in international relations.” Note, too, the general bureaucratic wordiness. A good translator is a good writer; if the original text is written badly, the skillful translator nonetheless creates an English translation that is as clear as possible.

If these texts were worth writing in Italian in the first place—that is, if its authors actually intended to communicate something to the public—one wonders why they would settle for a flawed version in non-English that fails to communicate? A text in Engliano is worse than no translation at all.


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