The Gallery of Wrongness – Page 2 (Milano è Turismo/Milan Tourist Portal)

“Milano è Turismo”/The Site of the City of Milan’s Convention and Visitors BureauReport card: C For crying out loud. This is the official site of Italy’s (arguably) most cosmopolitan city and (purportedly) its wealthiest. The Comune di Milano spent quite a few (thousand) euros to get this snazzy (not to say ostentatious and tarted-up) site online. You’d think they could have done a little better with the translation.

Instead, this is a good example of how not to translate a large site. As you work through the multiple pages and embedded links, you immediately notice vast differences in the quality of the English. What that suggests is that the Comune of Milan did what everyone does: used multiple translators with varying levels of skill (from “quite good” to “stop me before I translate again!”), including non-native-English speakers.

Why use multiple translators? Because the translation of institutional sites like this one is always left for the last minute. When someone remembers that there’s still the translation to think about, it isn’t humanly possible for a single translator to get the job done. (Mind you, the worthies who wrote the content in Italian took their time; the translators were the ones who had to contend with impossible deadlines.)

Among my favorite boners and flubs on this site are the links to “Passionateness” and “Amusement,” the “aspects” that “have arranged to meet up to release a desire to evolve” (Run for your lives! They’re alive!); the description of Milan as “like a mosaic of ten tiles” (not much of a mosaic, is it, with only ten tiles); and the information that “The nature is dotted by inhabited centres” where “you can also taste the produce of the culinary and wine tradition.”

But what really makes this site a miracle of mediocrity is its exhausting, stultifying, low-fiber, vapid, jargon-ridden ad-speak emptiness — characteristic, frankly, of the vast majority of tourist websites in Italy, but unforgivable in the case of a city like Milan and a bells-and-whistles effort like this one.

A few examples:

“A metropolis is always a location for innovation and creativity, and so it will inevitably be in the forefront as regards experiments in contemporary living and in heralding the arrival of the future.” Translation: Milan is just so darn cool.

“The Milanese institutes train professionals in various disciplines and numerous specialist schools also offer a post-university qualification.” Translation: We have an educational system. (Remarkably like every other large city in the world, actually.)

“For Milan, Europe is the city’s natural domestic dimension, while the world is its constant arena of relations.” Translation: something about Europe.

and finally: “The Municipality of Milan, according to the principle of subsidiarity, favours associations and individuals that contribute and offers itself as a point of reference for societies that wish to make a commitment to donating to charity.” Translation: I have no idea, but I can confirm that “subsidiarity” is a new low in calque-translation.

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