Our guide for translating Italian

Italian is one of the most widely spoken and influential languages. You may not realize that you are ‘speaking’ Italian several times every time when ordering a pizza, cooking ravioli, listening to a diva singing, or sipping a cappuccino, they are all Italian words.

I. The importance of Italian Translations

Italian ranks 21 most popular languages in the world with almost 85 million speakers. Around 64 million people in the European Union are native speakers. That makes Italian the third most popular native language in the EU.

Italian is not just the official language of Italy but also of Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, Istria County in Croatia and Slovene Istria in Slovenia. Thus, the European Union chooses Italian to be one of its 24 official working languages.

Outside Europe, Italian is the second most spoken language in Argentina. In many parts of Brazil, it’s a regional language and a required subject to be taught in schools.

Italian is one of the most iconic “romance languages”. English speakers, being aware or not, already use a lot of Italian words frequently, such as “finale,” “soprano,” “gelato,” “spaghetti,” and “pepperoni.”

II. 4 problems when translating Italian

1. Italian translation may be longer

Like many of its cousins, Italian language will make a longer text compared to its English counterpart. That’s why hiring a professional translation service is so important. Otherwise, extra hours of going back and forth are the price you have to pay, do you want to slow down your overall process just because of a minor mistake?

2. Context is crucial when it comes to Italian translation

Words used in e-commerce and technology are challenging to translate into Italian because in English, a few common words are used as a key that open all locks, such as ‘feature’ can mean capability, functionality, or characteristic. Therefore translators have to find the meaning of a word by looking deeply into the context.

3. Italian is an expressive language

Italian is born from poetry. In the 14th century, elite Italians began to adopt the Tuscan version used in Florence. Since then, the language has been made popular by writers like Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. That was the origin of today’s standardized Italian.

The rhythm of syntax and vocabulary are the reason for the beauty of Italian. In general, Italian people are known to be less direct in expressing their feelings because of an underlying fear of offending someone.

But English speakers, by contrast, favor concise, brisk and straight-to-the-point sentences. It is still the case when it comes to business writing. For example, marketing slogans should be catchy, and short to guarantee their directness.

4. Be Careful with the formality of Italian

English just uses ‘you’ for almost all the subjects even in legal documents. Italian language, however, can be much more formal as other romance languages such as French or Spanish, it’s considered appropriate to address your spouses and peers differently than your managers and customers.

Translators must strike a balance between formality and the general feeling of one brand so the message is properly delivered without insulting the audiences. Translating isn’t always about strict rules, but is also about the cultural nuances required to make your work feel natural.

Wrong choice of language service can affect the cost and the effectiveness of translated content. Therefore, you need professional linguists who understand both languages and the cultural nuances within each of them to advise you. 

If you need to translate into Italian, give us a call today!

Facts about Italian language

  • The Italian alphabet only has 21 letters
  •  Italian is considered one of the closest languages to Latin
  • The word ‘America’ comes from Italian
  • Italian didn’t become the official language of Italy until 2007