I like to be helpful to my clients and welcome their requests with open arms. But it can happen that the demands of good English force me to turn down a client’s request, as I did recently when I was asked to make my English translation closer in length to the Italian original to avoid awkward page layouts. As I translate documents in which the readability and flow of the English are particularly important (as opposed to, say, legal documents, which are meant to be unreadable in every language), my English translation is generally between 10% and 20% shorter than the Italian original. Part of this is just that English words are shorter on average than Italian ones, but a great deal of it is because good English values concision and shuns redundancy. Other factors making good English shorter include a preference for active sentence construction and using verbs instead of nouns.
I discuss some of these “cultural differences” between English and Italian elsewhere. Both to help my clients understand why there’s this difference and as a reference for my colleagues, here is a list of examples of possible translations with a much shorter character count. Of course, the choice of translation depends on many factors, and in some contexts, I might choose a wordier option.
Other pithy examples? Add in comments.
|In questo locale è severamente vietato fumare||No smoking|
|Il mese di febbraio||February|
|Il colore rosso||Red|
|Il sopracitato architetto milanese||He|
|Infatti, infine, invece, anche, inoltre||[omit]|
|È della massima importanza||It’s essential|
|Era reso possibile da||Let|
|L’immobile che si trova all’indirizzo||The property at|
|Basta pensare a||e.g.,|
|Colgo l’occasione per porgere i miei più cordiali saluti||Sincerely,|
|Ha acquisito uno spessore maggiore||Thickened|
|Procede a fare||Does|
|Ma allo stesso tempo||Yet|
|Modificati e alterati||Altered|
|Metà del secondo decennio del Cinquecento circa||Around 1515|
|Vi preghiamo di reggervi agli appositi sostegni||Please hang on|
|Quando ci siamo incontrati per la prima volta||When we first met|