Are you interested in doing business with international clients who don’t speak Italian?
Although you could learn how to teach Italian so that, eventually, some of your clients would be able to read your website in Italian, this would probably take about 2 years. What is the alternative to this difficult problem, I hear you ask? More and more forward-thinking Italian businesses are having their websites translated into English. These days, everyone and their dog speaks some English and many businesses who want international customers need to do market themselves in English.
Milan will soon host a huge number of visitors during Expo 2015 and this will provide a fantastic opportunity for Italian businesses to showcase their products to the world and to do more business. In another article coming soon on this website, Elena Tallarita and I will be giving some tips about how to tackle obstacles (real and perceived) that English-speaking businesspeople face, when it comes to doing business in Italy.
Google Translate : the arch-enemy of good website content
What can you do to get your website ready for Milan Expo? The cheapest and quickest way is to use my arch-enemy “Google Translate”. Tempting though the use of “Google Translate” may be, I believe that it is not good enough for professional website content. It’s OK if you want to translate short sentences informally; but it will often make a mess of complex sentences, use unnatural expressions, mix informal and formal language, choose a synonym which does not fit the context and get the punctuation wrong. Let’s see if I’m right by looking at an excerpt from Elena Tallarita’s article on this website about family businesses:
“Come si gestiscono gli utili e le perdite? I familiari collaboratori hanno diritto alla partecipazione agli utili e agli incrementi patrimoniali, ma non partecipano alle eventuali perdite, che rimangono totalmente a carico dell’imprenditore, unico responsabile dell’impresa (questa è una delle principali differenze con la classica società).”
“How do I handle the gains and losses ? Family members employees are entitled to share in the util ie the asset increases , but not participate in any losses , which remain entirely by the entrepreneur , the only official of the company ( this is one of the main differences with the classical company ) .”
“What rules are there about profits and losses? The participating relatives have the right to share in the profits and the goodwill of the firm (if they wish to sell their share). However, they are not liable for losses as and when they arise. In fact, losses are sustained only by the owner, who remains the sole director of the firm. This is one of the main differences between this kind of business and others.”
Analysis of Google Translate
There were many problems with Google’s effort. The first was that native English speakers would have been confused by “util”, a word which Google inexplicably created. Google didn’t give a translation of the word “eventuali” at all. Aside from this, the text was mostly comprehensible; however, it was grammatically wrong in several places, hard to read, imprecise, badly punctuated and poorly structured.
Appropriate style and content
Working with a native English-speaker who has business experience (like me) brings other advantages too, namely, consideration of style, content and structure. Marketing and advertising has its own language and style and a technically good translation is only the start. Potential clients need to be hooked by short and sweet phrases containing attractive marketing language.
A further point is that a lot of business jargon does not translate literally e.g. “un paradiso fiscale” is not “a fiscal paradise” in English but “a tax haven”. While “fiscal” and “paradise” are both good English words, and “fiscal paradise” would probably be understood in context, a native speaker would never say it; such a mistake could reflect badly on the professionalism of the business to potential clients.
The Anglo-Saxon commercial perspective
Website content sometimes needs to be different for foreign clients. While I worked with Elena Tallarita on this website, I gave her the commercial perspective of a businessperson based in the UK who may not understand much about business life in Italy. A lot of the information about the services of Studio Commercialista Tallarita which Italian clients may expect to see or want to know, will simply not interest foreigners; internet users often have the attention span of a goldfish and can easily feel overwhelmed by detail. For example, Elena’s foreign clients probably do not initially need to know the names of Italian government authorities or the precise documents which need to be filed. However, they do need to know a little about Italian accounting requirements, in very general terms, and they need to know that Studio Commercialista Tallarita can confidently explain the finer details to them later.
A technically good translation is therefore not enough for effective marketing : Italian businesses need to tailor their message to international clients differently to their domestic clients; and, in some cases, they should not be afraid of producing substantially different content for international consumption.
Finally, an advertisement for my services
So now you know : I write the English content for the Studio Commercialista Tallarita website – the main pages and the articles (like this one). So if you think it’s all rubbish, then it’s my fault. But if you think it’s OK and want an English language version of your business website, then what are you waiting for? Contact me or ask your website designer to contact me. I’ll give you a free sample translation of 250 words from your Italian website and a quote for the whole text. Then your website can look as good as this one, all for a very reasonable price. You know it makes sense.