ITalian-English Philosophy Translation

We are looking for young people who would like to gain experience in the publishing world by translating philosophical texts from Italian to English. If you are interested, please send us a CV to

Stiamo cercando giovani che vogliono acquisire un po' d'esperienza nel mondo dell'editoria traducendo testi filosofici dall'italiano all'inglese. Se sei interessato/a, scrivici, inviandoci il tuo curriculum vitae a:

Effective translation

To translate effectively, you must not only know both languages (passively for the source text (ST) and actively for the target text (TT)), but you must also be sensitive to the following issues:

(a) consistency: make sure you translate the same ST term with the same TT term throughout the entire work you're translating; also pay attention to spelling and to the rendition of non-English names - be consistent throughout;

(b) structural coherence: does the translated text contradict itself? Is it internally, or structurally, coherent? If the text contradicts itself, that is if it is not structurally coherent, then it needs re-writing.

You might wish to have a look at this.

(c) terminology: make sure you look up technical terms. Do not assume what a term might be in the TT: just look it up. Translation is not merely a linguistic exercise. It is, above all, an exercise in cultural mediation. In other words, you have to be aware of the culture on both sides, because you will mediate between them. You cannot assume that the culture on the receiving end will reflect the culture on the other end.

Terminology is of the utmost importance. Philosophy, law, history, economics, cultural studies, theology ... these are all specialised fields of knowledge, or rather systems of knowledge. Each has a highly specialised and well-defined vocabulary. If you want your translation to be taken seriously, you have to know that vocabulary. If you do not know it, you have to look it up. A good translator is a translator who is aware of this, is aware of what s/he knows and does not know, and looks up terms to make sure that readers of the translated text receive the same level of specialisation they would receive if they could read the text in its original language.

The translator has to use the source language to understand the meta-linguistic concept in order to transpose that concept into the target language. This formulation necessarily means that the translator is not a slave to the source text, while she has to adhere faithfully to the meta-linguistic concept.

If there is clear incongruity between the source text and the meta-linguistic concept, then the latter should prevail on the former.

If, however, the incongruity between source text and meta-linguistic concept is only apparent, because in reality the author wants to use the incongruity to change the meta-linguistic concept, then the congruity has to be transposed to the target text.
Essentially it all boils down to a meta-linguistic interpretation of the source text. Once that is achieved, then the solution should be self-evident.

Terms of art

A term of art is a word or phrase that has a precise, specialised meaning within a particular field or profession.

It is imperative that before embarking on the translation of a text, you should become acquainted with the principal terms of art of the field of knowledge to which the translation belongs.

You should keep in mind that your reader might be a highly-knowledgeable person, who knows the language used within a particular community. If you want your text to be accepted by that community, you need to know the language that community uses.  This you can achieve either by having read a lot on the subject over the years, or else by building up a small corpus of terms of art, by looking them up in dictionaries or encylcopaedias. Though the job is not easy, it can be quite fulfilling once it's done (if done properly).

By learning the language used by a particular community, not just the terms of art but also the syntax used, and so on, you would be learning the art.

In the final analysis, all translations are in reality a journey, not just from the first till the last page of the text, but also from your initial position of knowing so much to your end position of knowing so much more.

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