Glimmer of hope for IT>EN quality?

Most Italian>English translations are terrible, ranging from machine translated hilarity to shoddy, non-professional, native-tongue translations, as gleefully, ruefully documented at ProvenWrite. When you come across well-translated English in Italy, it’s a pleasant surprise. When the translator is credited, it is usually a colleague I know, as recently happened when I saw a well-translated exhibition catalogue  and was pleased to see it was translated by Catherine Bolton.

But, just maybe, things are changing. Almost every new client I’ve had this year has come to me through a similar path. Almost all already had an English “translation.” Then, someone along the way, occasionally in-house, but more often an Anglophone affiliate (as international partnerships grow more common in proportion to funds in Italy growing scarcer) reads the bad translation and spills the beans. Realizing they’ve been sold a false bill of goods, the clients ask around for a serious translator and are directed to me, usually by other clients. They write that they’ve been told there were, um, “inconsistencies” in the translation and might I “proofread” it. I generally read two sentences, “move to trash” and start fresh.

Most clients really want good translations. Perhaps, at least in the IT>EN market, the shysters selling boxes of garbage marked “English” on the outside are finally being exposed.

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