Determiners In Italian TranslationDeterminers In Italian Translation

A determiner is a word that specifies, or clarifies the denotation of a noun phrase. The determiner points out what kind of reference the noun has. Just as it does with parts of speech such as adjectives, the determiner modifies and clarifies the noun. There are quite a lot of types of determiners in Italian (and English as well), but there are five specific types of determiners that create nasty headaches for an Italian translation more than the rest of them. Let's take a look at the five.
The first of the five types are definite and indefinite articles. English examples are: a, an, the. Italian examples are: il, lo, la, etc. This makes for challenging Italian translation because the Italian language has a greater number of articles and because the article in Italian can indicate gender as well as a number.

The next are demonstratives. Examples in English are: this, that, those. Examples in Italian are: questo and quello. Italian demonstratives do correspond in gender and number with the nouns they are modifying.

Next come possessives. Examples of possessives in English: my, your, his, her. Examples of possessives in Italian translation are: il, mio, tuo, la mia, and la tua. In Italian translation possessives are compound words which must include a definite article. However, while translating into English the definite article remains un-translated. Another difference between the two is that in English the gender of the possessive pronoun adheres to the gender of the possessor, but in Italian it corresponds with the gender of the possessed subject.

Next: The relative pronouns. Examples in English: what, which, whose, and whom. Examples in Italian can be: che, cui, il quale.

After relative pronouns come quantifiers. Examples of quantifiers in English: some, any, or each. Examples of the same in Italian: qualche, ogni, and qualsiasi.

Many of the problems that come about with determiners in making Italian translation work properly arise because of the differences mentioned here. The differences often lead to a problem that develops because the form of the determiner is changed when translating from Italian to English (and the other way around as well), or a determiner may end up being left out of the target text. Here's an example: An indefinite article may take the place of a definite article, or the relative pronoun may be left out altogether.

There are other ways that the determiners in Italian will be different from the determiners in English, which complicates the problem of using determiners in Italian translation. Example: The common Italian preference to use definite articles in places where this just would not exist in English.

The Italian language has a preference to use nominalizations. The English language has a preference to avoid them. This creates difficulties posed by determiners, mostly with definite articles, because a noun is always included with an article in one form or another. The decision to either leave out, include or ultimately change the form of the determiner in Italian translation has to be dictated by the register and style, the ideas or objects that need to be emphasized, the rhythm and intonation of the language and the context in both the source and target texts. A translator, however, does have the option to replace the definite article with a possessive adjective in the target text. There are a multitude of other methods of handling determiners in Italian translation but these five create a good basis or starting point from which to work from.
by Charlene Lacandazo
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Charlene Lacandazo works for Rosetta Translation, a translation company specialising in Italian translation.
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