My English is Breaking

Most of Europe can speak or at least knows some English. Many Italians, especially my generation, knows English almost fluently and it’s easy to hold a conversation. Most people’s English isn’t perfect though, it’s a little broken here and there. I can still understand them, but I start to pick up on these changes. As I study the Italian languages I see the differences in how sentences are formed and how things are said and I understand why they are forming their English sentences incorrectly. But people aren’t what is breaking my English, Google is.

Website translation. Chrome allows you to have an extension that can automatically translate a website into English (or any other language you desire). This is useful if there are no other languages available, but it is also an automated system and not very coherent with grammar. I see the Italian sentence structure translated into English words. If I read a couple of translated website pages I’ll start to mimic the writing pattern of the websites; writing a form of broken English that is bound to be made fun of by Americans who have never left their hometown.

Here are some examples of the original web page and the translated version.

Original Version
Original Version of Trenitalia’s explanation of their Frecciarossa trains (fast trains between big cities).

 

Google Translated Version
Explanation of Frecciarossa trains translated by Google.

The second example shows the flaws in websites having a built-in language translation tool: they aren’t all complete. Most of the time changing the language via the website provides a great experience with proper english and explanations that make sense. The other times lead to instances like this. In trenitalia’s case I choose not to change the language because my options for information are suddenly limited.

Florence Opera information page in its original italian version
Florence Opera information page in its original italian version

 

Florence Opera's "english" version of the page when you directly change the language on the website.
Florence Opera’s “english” version of the page when you directly change the language on the website.

 

There are a number of menu options for the Italian site, including information on Cartafreccia, the train loyalty and discount card.
There are a number of menu options for the Italian site, including information on Cartafreccia, the train loyalty and discount card.
The English option has limited options for information. It serves mostly for tourists and those not residing in Italy.
The English option has limited options for information. It serves mostly for tourists and those not residing in Italy.

Because of this I am stuck reading websites in either Google Translates’ broken english, or doing my best at reading Italian. I have learned quite a bit of italian during my 2 months in Italy, but websites (especially websites on specific things) still have me lost. In the end I’ll end up saying things like, “I not have need for that.” If you translate this into italian exactly you get: “io non ho bisogno di quello.” The exact words are in the same order, but the languages have different ways of structuring themselves. Hopefully I’ll be able to manage both languages and soon be able to use them both properly! Ci vediamo dopo!

 

 

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