Tapering and Quantitative Easing. To Translate or not to Translate?


To translate or not to translate? That is the question.

The word “tapering” in finance is increasingly being used to refer to the reduction of the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing, or bond buying program. These days, the European Central Bank moved a step closer to Quantitative Easing in the Euro Area.

The term was used for the first time by the former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stating before the US Congress that the Fed may taper – or reduce – the size of the bond buying program known as Quantitative Easing. QE is an unconventional monetary policy to increase the money supply by buying government securities or other securities from the market.

Investopedia explains that Quantitative easing “increases the money supply by flooding financial institutions with capital in an effort to promote increased lending and liquidity”, while tapering is “a gradual winding down of central bank activities used to improve the conditions for economic growth”.

Reading financial news in Italian, I found various definitions. Someone leaves these terms in English, some translate them in different ways. Based on my research, in general tapering is not translated literally, but some Italian newspapers call it “la riduzione degli stimoli monetari”, while Quantitative Easing is sometimes referred to as “allentamento quantitativo”, “alleggerimento quantitativo” or “allentamento monetario”.

New financial terms are invented every day and are strictly linked to markets and politics. Therefore, there is often no “official” translation. You can find definitions or translation in newspapers or in the Internet, although not in dictionaries (not immediately, I mean).

In my opinion, the best practice in this case is to search in local newspapers and media for a definition, an explanatory expression and sometimes for a sort of “shared” translation. Then, if in doubt, consult with the client. Some people prefer to leave English terms in English and not to translate them, some other prefer a translation into the local language so that the reader can better understand the meaning. On the other hand, you can alternate the English source term with an Italian expression in the document you are translating. The Italian text becomes more readable, although it is technical enough to be understood by industry experts who recognise ECB or Fed terms as common language.

What would you do?


3 pensieri su “Tapering and Quantitative Easing. To Translate or not to Translate?

  1. Hi Francesca, very interesting post. I usually do the same as you do, I browse newspapers and other media looking for the commonly used terms in Italian. Of course if client prefers a specific term I stick to it, but in case I don’t agree with it, I provide technical advice in order to improve final quality of final text.

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