English students very often need translations for themselves and for friends as well. The funniest part of it all is when you need to translate from your language into English. It can drive you nuts, but please, don’t lose heart. Here is some advice for you.

Remember that what you want to translate will be subjected to English readers. So, bear in mind that it has to sound English, and, what sometimes has sense in Italian can sound a conundrum or senseless in English. However, let’s see some common or less common mistakes.

Settimana bianca

In English you cannot possibly say white week as it would be considered as opposed to black week, which does not exist so far. So, you might like to translate this expression as a skiing holiday, which English people will find perfectly understandable.

Faccio il ponte

You would not hopefully like to translate this expression as I’m making a bridge. Think if you were a chef in a restaurant, for example. But you can say instead I’m having a long weekend. In other words, your usual customers would be deprived of your specialities for two-three days but then you would be back and delight them with your dishes once again, rather than challenging them of facing the perils of crossing a bridge that you have built during your short absence.

Sotto la pioggia; Sotto la luna; sotto i riflettori

The cat is under the table, say kids. It wouldn’t ’be possible for you to say under the rain. But you can well say I was out in the rain and I’m drenched now. If this sounds difficult, try to remember the song Dancing in the rain.

Under the moon would not be possible either, as it suggests that you are exactly under that gorgeous planet, not an inch more to the left or to the right. So, to begin with, try to analyse what the original expression in Italian stands for. Does it not mean, perhaps, that you are enjoying the moonlight and Romeo or Juliet have long gone green with envy?

In fact, you can translate this expression as in the moonlight.

Though a big fan of the Italian singer Zucchero, the lyrics in English in his song Baila Morena, I fear, should have been in the moonlight / sotto luna piena (not: under the moonlight).

The same goes for sotto i riflettori. In English it matches in the spotlight.

 

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