Hello and welcome to my website on conference interpreting and translations studies.
I’m Alessio Iacovoni, a bilingual professional Italian ⇄ English interpreter with 18+ years of experience, based in Rome.
Passion is what best describes my relationship with interpreting. In a world where words have turned into mere sound, where they have been deprived of their true meaning, where they are sometimes used over and over till they become hollow, I still like to think of myself as a communicator of sense beyond words.
For further information or a quote for my professional services, please refer to my or send me an email:
Here are some interesting articles on interpreting and translation studies that I collected in these past years.
The following is a list of translation procedures developed by Vinay, Darbelnet, Newmark and Catford. Although they were developed for written translations they can also apply to interpreting.
Compendium of translation procedures
(edited and extended by Alessio Iacovoni, compiled by the author of the Blog Mis Trabajos de Traducción, accessed 11 February 2009)
Libretto by Salvatore Cammarano. Aligned source and target text here.
Synopsis: In the mountains of Vizcaya, a band of gypsies are gathered round a large fire. Azucena broods over the fire. She sings a ballad of a pitiful woman being dragged by a howling mob toward the flames. As the others depart, Manrico, who has been lying at her side, asks her to tell her the story that inspired such a sad song.
She tells him how her mother was accused by a haughty Count of having bewitched his young son; how she was brought in chains to meet her doom at this very spot; how she herself followed, her own baby in her arms, weeping; how her mother tried to stop and bless her, but was viciously thrust upon the stake. Her mother’s last words, in her death agony, were “Avenge me!” Those words have ever since echoed in her heart.
Manrico asks if she was avenged. Azucena replies that she abducted the Count’s son and brought him here, where the fire still burned. The baby cried piteously; her maternal feelings broke her heart; suddenly a horrible vision appeared: the killers; the torture; her mother crying out “Avenge me!” Blindly she siezed the victim in her trembling hand and thrust it on the fire. In an instant the vision was gone. Only the raging flames remained, consuming their prey; and there beside her was the son of the wicked Count. It was her own son she had cast into the fire! (from opera.stanford.edu)
Omission means dropping a word or words from the SLT while translating. This procedure can be the outcome of the cultural clashes that exist between the SL and the TL. In fact, it is in subtitling translations where omission attains its peak in use. The translator omits words that do not have equivalents in the TT, or that may raise the hostility of the receptor. For example, Arab translators usually omit English taboo words such as ‘fuck off’ and ‘shit’, while translating films into Arabic, just for the sake of respecting the Arab receptors, who may not tolerate the use of these words because of their culture. The process is also resorted to when translating from Moroccan Arabic into English:
SL: /3annaq SaHbo wmšaw bžuž lyid flyid/.
TL: He held his boy friend tightly and went together.
Here, we notice that the translator omits the Arabic words /lyid flyid/, ‘hand in hand’, since this act may mislead English receptors into believing that the “boy-friends” are homosexuals.
(From Translation Procedures, by Marouane Zakhir, University of Soultan Moulay Slimane, Morocco)
Similar procedures, with slightly different names, are very clearly illustrated in the Comparative Stylistics of French and English, by Jean-Paul Vinay and Jean Darbelnet.
This book was first published in 1958, so some scholars may dismiss it as outdated. Far from it! The incredible language insight of its two authors and the thriving bilingual context (Canada) within which their theories were developed, have made it an all-time classic, a must-have on any translator’s bookshelf.
Abc’s Philosopher’s zone has broadcast two very interesting podcasts on philosophy and translation. Incidentally, one of the two (Gavagai) touches also on sexism and gender neutrality (passing through Foucault and Derrida), a topic dealt with just the other day on this same blog (see Linguistic Sexism in the Italian Language).
2. Philosophy in another tongue
In the article below, Umberto Eco writes of an amusing hoax that circulated in Italy some years ago, concerning a humorous (but fake) instruction leaflet on computer pointing devices (mice), that had been allegedly translated with some automated tool. The hoax was reported as genuine by the Italian press, which took it as an example of the pitfalls of machine translation.
(…) «Se il vostro topo ha difficoltà a funzionare correttamente, o funziona a scatti, è possibile che esso abbia bisogno di una palla di ricambio. A causa della delicata natura della procedura di sostituzione delle palle, è sempre consigliabile che essa sia eseguita da personale esperto. Prima di procedere, determinate di che tipo di palle ha bisogno il vostro topo. Per fare ciò basta esaminare la sua parte inferiore. Le palle dei topi americani sono normalmente più grandi e più dure di quelle dei topi d’oltreoceano… La protezione delle palle dei topi d’oltreoceano può essere semplicemente fatta saltare via con un fermaglino, mentre sulla protezione delle palle dei topi americani deve essere prima esercitata una torsione in senso orario o antiorario… Si raccomanda al personale di portare costantemente con sé un paio di palle di riserva, così da garantire sempre la massima soddisfazione ai clienti».
Molto divertente, come si vede, e bene inventata. Salvo che questa istruzione, attribuita alla Ibm, è certamente falsa.
Continue reading “The strange case of the mouse’s balls”
Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere fidus interpres, Horace [As a true translator you will take care not to translate word for word]
Dictum non verbum de verbo, sed sensum exprimere de sensu, St. Jerome [Not a word-for-word translation, but a translation that should express the sense as derived from the general meaning]
This interesting post from a blog on wordpress explains the difference between “word for word” and “dynamic equivalence” and argues that a balanced approach employing both is the most desirable. I will quote some parts of it.
Translation of any language is very much like reading music. Instead of notes, you have letters. Instead of chords, you have words. Instead of phrases, you have clauses. Instead of periods, you have sentences. The parallels go all the way up. In music, there is meaning on each one of these levels.
(…) the best-articulated translation philosophy I have found out there is the preface to the Holman Christian Standard Bible. They opt for the “optimal equivalence,” a philosophy that exhaustively examines the text “at every level (word, phrase, clause, sentence, discourse) in the original language to determine its original meaning and intention.” Their practice is then to use literal whenever possible, but when clarity demands an idiomatic translation, they will go for that, and put the literal translation in the footnote.