Whether you are browsing your Facebook news feed, scanning tweets or speed-reading the daily newspaper, you are bombarded with information, data, and opinions. For a financial translator, keeping up-to-date with the latest news is part of the job. You need to know what is going on in the world, how many times the Fed is going to raise interest rates this year, the volatility of the Chinese stock market or the strength of the US dollar. Did they approve any new regulations for banks or investment companies? New accounting standards? Even when you are translating an article for the web, you may need to know if a company is going public, is launching a new product on the market, or published better-than-expected results.
The sources of information on the Web abound, and you may often find it difficult to separate wheat from the chaff, or to focus your attention.
When I say I am an English>Italian financial translator, most people shudder. They imagine me at my desk translating annual reports and crunching numbers all the time. Actually, this is only a marginal part of my business. Financial translation comprises many different sub-sectors and areas that sometimes overlap, including insurance or legal concepts.
I am starting a series of posts on financial glossaries and resources dedicated to translators and all those who need to understand financial concepts and terminology, or to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the business world.
In the first post of the series, I collected useful links in English only.
The global financial crisis (GFC) in 2007/2008 started with the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis in 2007, turned into the Eurozone crisis in 2010 which showed the fragility of the banking system. The European Council decided to create a banking union to centralise supervision and resolution for banks in the euro area in order to avoid new crises in the euro zone and rebuild investor confidence in the banking sector. In general, the banking union should ensure stability and transparency of the financial system and support EU economy.
In this process, new terms and acronyms emerged that need translation.
After reading some fancy Italian translations of “equity” in financial documents, I will give my contribution to what it seems a never-ending conundrum.
What is equity? Equity has several meanings in English. In general, it is simply fairness and the quality of being impartial or reasonable. “Justice and equity are fundamental in a civilized society, like adequate housing, sanitation, and an adequate supply of pure water”. Probably only in those cases, the Italian equivalent is the straightforward equità.
In England and the U.S. – I am quoting my 2001 paper edition of Black’s Law Dictionary – equity is “the system of law or body of principles… superseding the common and statute law when the two conflict”. It applies the principles of natural justice to the settlement of disputes and remedies the limitations and inflexibility of common law. For example, “The parties waive all rights to seek any other remedies whether in law or in equity”. There is no equivalent in the Italian system, we do not translate it and use the English term (Le parti rinunciano a qualsiasi altro provvedimento ordinario o di equity, or in regime diequity).
In finance, the term’s meaning depends very much on the context.
Are you translating the interview of a fund manager or an investment company’s CEO to be published in an Italian newspaper? A blog post on Quantitative Easing? Maybe an article on the impact of the oil price drop on Russian economy?
Then, you must understand the basics of economics and finance. How does an investment fund work? What is the current performance of capital markets in peripheral Europe? What is the role of the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank? Why does the oil price affect global recovery and inflation? To translate financial news, you must learn the basics of macro and microeconomics, GDP, inflation, unemployment, as well as supply and demand, commodities, pricing.
Moreover, you should stay up-to-date, read the news, know what is going on in the world, particularly in capital markets. Which companies are performing well? Is unemployment rate high, and why? Is Europe recovering? Are the United States out of the financial crisis? What is the reaction of central banks, and how can interest rate affect mortgages and credit?
Reading the news in your working languages as a translator, you become aware that the language of financial and economic news is a special language. It is not only informative, but also emotional. Recently, I read headlines such as “Greek Burial for German Austerity” or “Quantitative Easing? Give the people the money instead!”.Continua la lettura di The Art and Science of Translating Financial News→
When one of my friends asked me a couple of days ago – a bit puzzled – why I do not work at a bank, she confirmed me something I already suspected. People have no idea of what I do as a financial translator, and probably as a translator too. I have read many blog posts about the myths and misconceptions on translators, the difference between translators and interpreters, and freelance work in general. Most people, even our friends and acquaintances, often do not know anything about our job or have a weird idea about translation.