I am a professional English to Italian translator, certified by AITI, who specializes in Chemistry, Medicine, and Sport. More precisely, I am an expert in the industry of fitness and bodybuilding – and related contents.
I have worked in the translation industry since 1996.
Excuse me, I am wrong.
When I was twelve years old, I started to help my father as an interpreter for his business. It is safe for me to say I have been working in the industry for almost half a century.
Yep, I started translation in the pre-digital era.
I would drive to the publishing house to hand out my floppy discs with my translated texts. Also, I would look words up in several huge bilingual or monolingual dictionaries. I mean hardcopies! So hard, that my dog chewed on my monolingual dictionary when I left her alone at home for many hours. I didn’t blame her – I would sit long hours with that dictionary on my limp and flipping through the pages so that there was my smell imprinted from A to Z. Instead of googling, I would go to the supermarket comparing labels to figure out the translation of an unknown ingredient.
I have a fitness and bodybuilding specialization because I have more than a personal connection with that field – I AM a bodybuilder, a personal trainer, a coach. I have a hands-on experience. I have been learning my field while learning my language skills.
My practical experience allows me to produce bodybuilding translations that are accurate (using the right terminology and lingo) and easy to understand for athletes because when I translate barbell curls I have really done multiple sets of barbell curls.
On top of that, I know how the text has to sound to the fitness audience. Cultural differences are quite an explosive cocktail and bodybuilding is a subculture that requires a peculiar approach.
As already said, my translation pair is EN-IT. For some uncanny power of my mind, I am also able to translate ES-IT, DE-IT, FR-IT. And I still master most of the Latin I studied in high school.
The truth is, the final product of translation is mostly about the target language. You need to be skillful in the language you translate into – that is Italian for me.
On the contrary, the making of translation is a supercompetence that requires extremely high levels of many faculties. Just to name a few, reading comprehension, writing ability, critical thinking, persistence, and cultural knowledge. My friend Marina liked to sum it up like this: “Rossella has two brains”.
The making of translation happens between a text written in one language (source) and an expertly crafted text in a different language (target). The place between the two texts is an ideal land in the translator’s mind. It is there where we translators work our multilingual magic.
Consider what it must be like: Imagine having to simultaneously read to what is written in a few sentences in one language, translate it into another language in your head while you type it, think of different appropriate linguistic choices and avoid grammar mistakes, all the while ensuring that you are not missing any of the original words from the text. My brain also find the time to listen to the environment and watch a Netflix series – in Italian.
It goes so much on an autopilot that I can even think about something else while I am doing it. Of course, I will revise and edit my translated text. (Just in case!).
Can I only translate FROM English into Italian, and never INTO English?
Professional translators only produce works in the language they are native speakers. I was born in Firenze, Italy, from monolingual Italian parents.
It may happen that I accept to translate into English only because I see so many bad translations that I feel compelled to help and avoid shame. In my specific industry field, I know that I can fail less, even if my certified translation pair is not IT-EN.
In order to avoid hilarious or fatal misunderstandings, it would thus be safer to hire a non-native translator who is versed in the given field, than an inexperienced native speaker who could misinterpret the meaning entirely. I mean, do not hire somebody who has never done a barbell curl.
Is exciting being a translator, isn’t it?
So so. It is way more exciting being a writer.
Needn’t you a lot more practice for writing?
I don’t think so. You need practice to translate – at least, not to betray the meaning of the author. To write you just need to go inside yourself and listen to your sixth sense. This is why, when young, I was self-conscious and I accepted to translate others, instead of writing my own thoughts. After many years, I had given voices to so many authors but not to the most important to me – myself. To date I prefer to write. It’s me.
Continued Education #t9y
A language is never still and it’s never a finite set of skills. I am proud I am always keeping myself informed as for translation technologies, new vocabulary, slang, and more.
A translator’s style
If I face a bad original (poorly written) I brush it up out of respect for the subject matter. I almost always translate bodybuilding, a discipline I love.
Out of respect for the audience, I always produce a loyal translation. I don’t want to rob the audience of anything.
However, the translator’s style is never noticed by you. The greater the translator, the more invisible is their style. In time I have been successful in losing my usual mistakes and preferred locutions which would come up here and there in any translation of mine.
Do I read original book or translated versions?
No way. I always read the original book. You don’t truly know an author unless you have read the original book. It helps me to figure out the author – to understand them a lot better, maybe because I know what goes inside the writing process and I can spot peculiar aspects in their style.
Inside the mind of a translator
A translator is, ultimately, a “complex computer that makes complex choices and considerations on many levels even for the simplest of sentences”.
I always wonder how the original would be and I try to guess what the original read like. I am proud then it turns out I am right. I feel like I am getting the key of that language.
I am constantly adding new vocabulary to my internal dictionaries – through Reverso app, Memrise, reading books, web sites, and even nutritional labels in the original language.
I wonder why my mind can wonder while I translate. It is funny that it mostly wonders in place memories. It is like I travel back in time to places I visited while sitting to translate.
I may – and I did – accept some interpreting. When I do, if you are the speaker, I will ask you to stop after a few sentences – I sometimes struggle to remember what I read two minutes ago.
I also ask you a lot of questions for two reasons – I empathize with your seminar, I love the subject, and I want to make sure I understood what you said – see my impelling need to be loyal to the audience.
When a translator accepts to work as an interpreter, the job seems way lighter because we don’t have to typewrite (or dictate). By the way, I type quite fast, but I never have enough silence in my office to dictate to Dragon Naturally Speaking.