Move travelers but please don’t “movimentare viaggiatori”

A couple days ago I was glancing at a renowned brochure on clients education, written originally in English, and for the first time I thought about taking a look at its official Italian translations.

The Italian translation is generally good, however, at some point I couldn’t help notice a funny slip by the translator: The original “Each year, London’s Heathrow Airport moves over 65 million travelers from all parts of the world through its five terminals using internationally-recognized pictograms” has been translated with “Nel 2005 l’aeroporto di Heathrow (Londra) ha movimentato tra i suoi quattro terminal oltre 67 milioni di viaggiatori provenienti da tutte le parti del mondo, utilizzando esclusivamente simboli grafici concepiti per essere compresi con facilità dal più ampio pubblico internazionale.”

What’s wrong? (I will skip the over 65 million travelers who have become over 67 million in Italian.) While in English you can “move” people, in Italian is inappropriate “movimentare” them. “Movimentare” means “to transfer loads with mechanical means”. It is acceptable “movimentare” goods, and even animals, but if you use it for people, you imply that they are not better than suitcases. (Which kind of fits the context.)

I am sure that with a little more thinking the translator could have come up with a more appropriate translation, for example “Nel 2005 l’aeroporto di Heathrow (Londra) ha messo in grado oltre 65 milioni di viaggiatori, provenienti da tutte le parti del mondo, di spostarsi fra i suoi quattro terminal,…”

It’s a pity that the translation of such valuable resource, to be used for clients education, has this kind of mistake. I hope it will be corrected in the next edition. (At the same time they could change, in the same page, “tra traduzione” into “fra traduzione” to prevent the cacophony of the two “tra” in sequence. In elegant Italian, better to avoid such harsh-sounding patterns.)

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Roberto, interesting post. I agree with you that a constructive feedback over each other’s translations is no doubt useful to us all. It’s so easy to fall into the temptation of using false friends or catching the first, easier translation. You don’t simply convey the meaning. However, the Italian sentence ended quite freely and I appreciated it. By the way, this reminds me of a HR director who used to “allocare le risorse umane”. When did we end up being a piece of furniture or warehouse items??

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