More than just ‘short, sharp and to-the-point’.

Es Ist Eine Unter Übersetzern

German – Italian: A literal translation is not enough

After all: Whether it is in the tourism industry where there is plenty of translation work for Italian and German or in the many more formal texts produced for the industrial and engineering sectors: An entirely literal translation will not be enough, says Rossi. In most cases it will be necessary to add typical Italian phrases and adjectives to the German source text, to lengthen the sentences to make the document readable. The translation specialist explains: “German is highly structured and precise: Short, sharp and to-the-point. We tend to use more subordinate clauses in Italian ; we make it sound positive and appealing by adding a more descriptive flair.”

“German is highly structured and precise: Short, sharp and to-the-point. We tend to use more subordinate clauses in Italian ; we make it sound positive and appealing by adding a more descriptive flair.”
Anna Maria Rossi

27 Statt 16 Wörter

One example: A German e-mail with the following content is brief and concise: “Sehr geehrte Kunden, vielen Dank für Ihr Interesse. Bitte beachten Sie nachstehende Mindestmengen für den Versand.” 16 words. That’s not enough in Italian to convey precisely the same information politely. Italians need 27: “Gentile cliente, La ringraziamo per l’interesse dimostrato nei confronti della nostra azienda. Le ricordiamo che per l’invio dei prodotti in vendita sono previste le seguenti quantità minime.” The specialist is adamant that a literal translation would not work: “It sounds quite brutal, and could be perceived as cold and impolite.” So Rossi says: “You need to take the sentences apart and put them back together in an entirely different, Italian style.”

A verb becomes a verb plus adverb

It’s soon obvious: Italian needs more space than German. “On average, Italian sentences are 25 percent longer”, the translator says. And it’s not all down to the tendency to choose longer, more flowery sentences, as seen above. An additional factor is that many compound German verbs require a verb plus adverb when translated into Italian. ‘Durchlesen’ becomes ‘leggere attentamente’, while ‘(sich etwas) anlesen’ is ‘leggere di sfuggita’.

There is no word for ‘Feierabend’ in Italian

Ein Feines Sprachgefühl Kultur

Even the word ‘Konzept’ won’t rattle true professionals

The word ‘Konzept’ (concept) is another example that requires profound knowledge of the language. Understandably, says the translator Rossi, the word ‘concetto’ is used frequently for ‘Konzept’, although the term has more in common with the German words ‘Auffassung’ (notion) or ‘Auffassung’ (perception). On the other hand, the Italian word ‘strategia’ has far greater similarity with the idea of a ‘Konzept’, especially if it describes a plan or a company’s concept. But if ‘Konzept’ actually means a kind of ‘blueprint’, the correct translation would be ‘malacopia’.

Italian is not always the same

Hohe Sprachsensibilität In Jed

Anna Maria Rossi

Professionelle Übersetzerin

Anna Maria Rossi completed a German qualification to become a state-certified translator after graduating in German and English literature. Besides working as a translator, she has many years of experience in the services of German and Italian firms. She has translated from German, English and French into Italian – her mother tongue – for 20 years now.

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