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Three Challenges of Translating from English to Italian
Translating from one language to another is always challenging, what with the potential for differences in culture, semantics or even words that have no possible translation in the target language. Translating from English into Italian is no different, and this post will explore three of those challenges in a little more detail.
Challenge one: grammatical differences
As you may have guessed, Italian grammar differs from English grammar in a number of ways. For example, there are more prepositions and articles in Italian than English, meaning that translators will often have to add additional prepositions and articles to make the Italian translation readable. Italian also employs the perfect tense in a slightly different way to the English language: In English, the perfect tense has an association to the present, whereas in Italian it doesn’t. When translating from English into Italian, translators need to be aware of these sorts of grammatical disparity, otherwise the text can easily become muddled.
Challenge two: idioms
Most languages have idioms that are particular to it, and leave speakers of other languages scratching their heads when the idiom is directly translated into their native tongue. Consider the following English idioms: “pot luck”, “fight fire with fire” or “sore loser”. Each of these idioms makes perfect sense in English, but a direct translation into Italian will cause comprehension problems. It takes a skilled translator to take idioms and translate them into something readers of the target language will understand.
Challenge three: vocabulary
It’s hard enough having to lean an entirely new vocabulary, but some words seem to deliberately try and make life harder! The so called “false friends” are words that sound the same in two different languages, but actually have a different (sometimes completely different!) meaning in each language. These words are likely to bewilder unaware translators, who assume the similar-sounding word has the same meaning in the target text. See if you think any of the following English/Italian false friends have the potential to cause confusion: Argument/Argomento (topic), Magazine/Magazzino (Warehouse), Pace/Pace (Peace).
So there you have it – three challenges translators face when translating from English to Italian. If you speak both English and Italian, do you know of any other challenges that present themselves when translating into Italian?