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  • Writer's pictureLara Fasoli


Updated: Jan 18, 2021

It’s no secret: the market for Italian translation and interpreting services is more than saturated.

If we were to perform a quick search on LinkedIn, the query for ‘Italian translator’ would offer us just shy of 600,000 results, whilst we’d have to only comb through 310,000 profiles to find the best Italian interpreter for our needs. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that any Italian translator and interpreter offering language services is going to provide you with professional language solutions.

As in all other fields, what’s on offer can vary greatly in terms of qualifications held, workflow quality assurance applied and, most of all, skills and abilities – which at the end of the day will reflect on the price quoted.

We could draw a parallel between the language industry and the now infamous hair transplant industry: sure, you could hop on a flight to a foreign country and trust the doctor how’s carrying out the procedure for half the price promising a top-notch result, only to end up with a botched job you wish you never had and can’t hide. Or just think about what happened on many occasions when a delicate procedure such as art restoration has been commissioned to someone with below-par qualifications (or none at all) in Spain: potato Jesus is the prime example of how the end result looks when things go sideways.

So how can you distinguish a professional Italian translator and interpreter from amateurs? Here’s a list of good indicators that the Italian translator and/or interpreter you’re considering for your project or assignment is worth your time and money.

They don’t come cheap

Let’s rip the band aid off from the start: interpreters and translators are not cheap. As we’ve already mentioned, price is an important deciding factor, but it shouldn’t be the only one – not if the outcome of your language-related project can have a negative impact on your image, your business or your product. There is so much more than it first transpired behind an Italian interpreter’s fee: preparation costs, transportation, equipment rental, etc. A professional Italian interpreter who cares about their work won’t undercut themselves as that will hinder the quality of the interpreting service offered and reflect badly on their own professional image.

They are qualified

Interpreting and translations are very specific linguistic tasks that go beyond knowing two languages well, and they require specific training. Here’s one of the most common, yet very effective, similes to explain this difference:

Knowing two languages and claiming to be an interpreter would be the same as claiming you play the piano just because you have two hands.

Sure, you might be able to play some notes and even string together the basic melody of Für Elise, but how would that compare to a sonata played by someone who’s studied piano in a conservatory for years? So, if you are looking to hire an Italian translator or interpreter, a qualification goes to show that this professional has undergone formal training. For professional interpreters, the most common qualifications for interpreting are MAs and Postgraduate Diplomas, as well as accreditations from institutions such as the EU or the UN.

A small disclaimer: interpreting qualifications have only become available in the last 20 years or so. If the candidate you’re assessing has a proven track-record of professional interpreting services spanning over 30 years, you can confidently say they tick this box.

They are members of a professional association

Belonging to a professional association shows commitment to the profession and its standards, with a willingness to adhere to its core values, such as confidentiality, impartiality, and the code of ethics of the profession. This can give you the peace of mind the linguist you’re hiring is a professional Italian translator or interpreter that keeps up-to-date through CPDs and similar courses. There are several associations in each country; for the UK the most commons are the ITI, the CIOL, and AIIC (with the latter being the worldwide network of conference interpreters), whilst the more common in Italy are AITI, ANITI, and AssoInterpreti.

They ask the right questions (and they give you the right answer)

Interpreting and translation don’t happen in a vacuum, that’s why professional Italian interpreters will be asking you for documents, presentations and speeches in order to familiarise themselves with the topic and research the specific terminology. They will also be able to assist you in deciding the best mode of interpreting to ensure the best outcome for your event: at the end of the day, your success is our success. The same holds true for Italian translators: you should expect some questions about the intended readership, the style guide to follow, and clarifications on specific terms or sentences, just to name a few.

Bonus: they dress the part

Here’s a bit of a stereotype about Italian interpreters (and interpreters in general!), which is however absolutely true: when providing Italian interpreting services, both f2f and remotely, they always dress impeccably and in line with the dress code required for the event. This is a sort of non-written rule that has been passed down generation after generation: interpreting was first used during high-level meetings and it required a certain dress code – that’s why Italian interpreters always to dress the part and will not stand out in the room, ensuring a professional-looking event!

So, to recap, here’s what you should look out for in order to understand whether the linguist you’re talking to is worth their salt and is the best English to Italian translator for your project:

5 tips to find the best Italian translators and interpreters

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