The “Inglisc” page is dedicated to the work of “bilingual” Italians who advertise their services as Italian->English translators on Proz.com—one of the largest online translator clearinghouses. What follow are just a few examples of the damage that second-language translators can do. In addition, they serve as a warning to clients: Be alert when you encounter individuals who are born and raised in Italy—but who claim to be fully qualified to translate into English.
In one case, the translator claims not only to be bilingual but to be a “native speaker” of English and indicates that she has worked as a freelance Italian->English translator since 1985. Her list of projects and clients seems impressive. Until you read her work.
In another, the translator boasts of being a graduate with “first-class honors” from a prestigious Rome-based program for translators and interpreters. His work is ample evidence that translating isn’t necessarily something you can learn in school.
Welcome to “Inglisc”:
|From the site of the Uffa Baruffa Restaurant in Lucca: Our kitchen is simple but cured, composed from lucchesi typical dishes and national and international ones, made from our cook with ability and fantasy for you…. You will be able to complete the meal are various selection dessert, all made at home. In our wine cellar are also present the best Tuscany lucchesi.The site includes this helpful information for motorists:
In order to arrive in machine it convene to enter from porta S. Anna and park in Cittadelal Park or enter from porta S. Peter and park in C.so Garibaldi.
Comment: A first-semester student of English or Italian would know that a “macchina” was a car and not a machine and that “cucina,” which certainly can mean kitchen, should be translated as “cuisine” or “cooking” in this context. These are not the errors of a native speaker of English.
|From the site of the Un Posto Al Sole Beauty Shop in Prato: “… a staff ready to realize every requirement and change of the customers, prepares and advise all our clients on the colouration of the hair to the cut , hair style from other worlds…. we will be here for all your problems to advise you nothing’s impossible for us. to make you stay well for us you are liker a beautiful rose picked in the beautiful botanical garden…. We have contributed to numerous fashion shows [and] we have been spoken on the daily papers like the “Nation”||Comment: Among this translator’s “signatures” are a capricious use of punctuation, a failure to capitalize the first word in a sentence, and frequent typos.|
|From the site of the Agriturismo Belagaggio near Siena: Wisely restored in the rigorous respect of its ambiental and architectonic characteristics, it develops inside the firm’s building that are: the manor house, an eighteent century cottage of briks and stones, and the annexes (out-building) that together with the manor house from a charming and suggestive agglomerate. Here it is possible to spent days in quit and peace to pursue himself or to discover many and wonderful towns of art: Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino Siena, Perugia Orvieto That can be all reached in an hour’s drive max.
The Agriturismo Belagaggio also has a restaurant:
The kind reception of the owners allows to feel at home…. The kitchen is excellent and prepared directly from the owners with the products of the farmhouse and accompanied by an accurate selection of the principal Italian wines.
|Comment: A sure sign that a non-native translator is at work is the translation of false cognates or “false friends” with their literal counterparts. There is, for example, no adjective “ambiental” in English, though ambientale exists in Italian. An “agglomerate” in English isn’t exactly the sort of thing one wants on a vacation; and an accurato choice of wines isn’t “accurate” but careful, thoughtful, or painstaking. Note, too, the numerous typos.|
|From the site of Tecno Teak Viareggio: “[The proprietors] have united their working strengths in order to satisfy the requirements of the market specializing in the construction of the pre-built teak deck, developing the technology of under vacuum to optimize the gluing of the manufactured articles on the supports used….
The common objective of the company is to also to give a high quality service to the single buyer as to a luxury nautical one and always to be in the reality of the height of the expectations of the most demanding clients….To work inside, or better still in environmental condition will surely offers best guarantees to get good results than to work outside. During the construction and the process of reticolazione of the sealing stickers, the bridge must be protected against the solar rays and the rain, in contrary case they could be revealed irreparable damages to the estate of the stickers and sealing with the teak.
|Comment: To be fair, the original Italian text wins no prizes for clarity. Paradoxically, however, the more poorly written a text is, the more target-language expertise is required to translate it. That’s what makes a native-English-speaking translator essential. Here, hyperbole and “marketing speak” have been translated word-for-word, and the result is all but incomprehensible. Note, too, the word “reticolazione” left in Italian. Monolingual Italian clients may have a difficult time judging the quality of an English translation and can fail to notice mistakes such as this.|
|From a set of working papers issued on the occasion of an Italian Linux Society convention: In addiction to its endless technical and human resources, Linux clear versatility just represents a suitable tool for the national education system, especially for the Linguistics and Information Technology areas where the Italian Minister of Education Moratti signally failed to reach the goals of her announced reform of the education and training system because she wisely preferred a very urgent internal reform. With regard to schools, whether they are public or private, it is necessary to think about the way in which the future generations can be helped to be on a par with the world governing classes. Such technologic backwardness can not be accepted.||Comment: The phrase “In addiction” is bad enough, but when we get to the failure to indicate possession properly (“Linux clear versatility” instead of “the clear versatility of Linux-based systems”) or the logical muddle of the phrase “Moratti signally failed to reach the goals of her reform because she wisely preferred internal reform,” there can be no doubt. This translator doesn’t have the right stuff for the job.|
|From the site of the Ermini Adone firm, located south of Florence: The firm, was born in 1957 as a small craftmen firm and become S.r.l. in the ’79, are specialized in the planning and production of metal constructionsThe firm operates on the Italian and international market; principal characteristics:
||Comment: Once again, we find English that is essentially gibberish. Italianisms, such as the article before the year (il 1979) are retained, as are plurals (constructions, equipments) that should become singular in English and the abbreviation “mqs” or “square meters,” which should become m2. The translation also suffers from a basic failure to understand shades of meaning. What is a “spacious work force” or a “personal varnishing establishment”?|
|From the site of the Gypsum Design firm in Prato: Thanks to our experience and ability we have collaborated with firms of pictorial decorations to unite the beauty of the plasters with the shine of the paintings.||Comment: A bad translation often means unintended humor—but the joke is always on the business.|
|From a report on the ways in which new interest in eco-sustainability could affect opportunities in the Italian work force: [A study] carried out by ISFOL (the Italian Institute for the Development of Workers’ Vocational Training) … has enlighted the fact that a development meeting living people’s requirements without compromising the future generations’s possibility to satisfy, at their turn, their requirements, mainly has its basis on eight intervention areas being: environmental sustainable architecture, eco-compatible aquaculture, biological agriculture, sustainable biotechnology, soil protection and use of waters, protected areas and sustainable tourism, renewable energy and, lastly, urban waste integrated management…. With regard to sustainable architecture, also named Bia (Bachelor of Interior Architecture), the career position being in the greatest demand is going to be the BIA building manufacture designer who will be responsible for analysing the environmental backgrounds of the buildings, assessing their impact together with the energy efficiency and detecting their design limits.||Comment: At the risk of being harsh, this translation comes very close to being total nonsense. The first sentence, in particular, is an utter mess. Moreover, the translator doesn’t know the difference between “enlighted” (which doesn’t exist) and “highlighted”; cannot be trusted to form possessives properly (“generations’s”); and has not mastered the most basic principles of English syntax. If this text were handed in to me as a homework assignment in a translation course, I wouldn’t give it anything higher than a C-minus. This translator, in contrast, received a degree in translation!|
|From the “That’s Italy” site, a manual on “The Art of Hosting”: Hosting people at home can be a problem, especially when you lack of ideas. Discover new ways to host people at home with the tips of that’s Italy. Starting from history of polite manners, this section covers all the things related about hosting in general…One of the first things to keep in mind is the dressing code. The hostess should not be dressed nor too elegantly nor to simply as this can embarrass the guests, specially female guests…. Before the guests arrive take some minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when they arrive. Touch up your makeup and be fresh-looking. Greed your guests with a splendid smile….When organizing important dinners it is very important to have some kind of assistance; specially for serving. We can revolve ourselves to the house maid or eventually to a professional waiter….HOW TO LAY THE TABLEAn attractive table is a sign of welcome to guests but also a very important element for a successful meal. First cover the table with a silence cloth or a quilted pad to protect it from stains and wrecks….The guests should find the seating labels in the table, in front of the plate, with their title and surname written out in a full, notorious way….
The centerpiece …
Over a long table flowers can be perfectly matched with chandeliers placed to the sides of the centerpiece or one in between two floral decorations…. An original centerpiece and very adapt for the autumnal months can be composed of white bunches of large grape, sprayed with silver paint and arranged at the center of a rectangular or oval table…. The flowers will have to be tiny: small roses as an example, or, small orchids for the more spendious.
|Comment: This is another translation that invites the reader to laugh: problems that come when you “lack of ideas”; the advice to “greed your guests” with a smile; the “silence cloth” that serves to avoid “wrecks”; guests’ names written “in a notorious way”; the help that a “house maid” can provide if we “revolve ourselves” to her. But there are errors of the most basic kind in this translation as well: the failure to capitalize the word “Italian” (which is not capitalized in Italian), the use of “to” when “too” is needed, the failure to conjugate verbs or use past participles correctly, and mistakes in singulars/plurals and in definite and indefinite articles. What is most glaring, however, is the translator’s obvious lack of familiarity with the culture into which she is translating. In other words, she simply doesn’t have the native knowledge to know what certain objects are called in English: place cards are not “seating labels”; “chandeliers” hang from the ceiling and don’t go on the table; we may observe a “dress code” rather than a “dressing code,” and someone who is willing to splurge on orchids may be extravagant but is certainly not “spendious,” a false cognate derived from the implausible “spendioso” in Italian.|