You are on page 1of 4

Translating the language of tourism

The language of tourism has different levels of expressions: on the one hand, this
language represents an instance of highly specialized discourse used by experts in
the field of tourism to communicate with one another; on the other, when it is
adopted in interactions between specialists and non-specialists, it tends to be more
similar to general discourse.
Specialized communication may take different forms, such as written documents,
professional meetings, telephone conversations, etc.
Communication with non-specialists usually occurs in travel agencies, hotels,
printed materials (e.g. newspaper articles, tourist guides, letters, mails, faxes), and
oral communicative events (radio or TV programmes).
Lexical features of the language of tourism:
a. Monoreferentiality
This term is not used here to indicate that each term has only one referent, as words
generally have several referents, but to signal that in a given context only one
meaning is allowed.
The language of tourism developed its own terminology to express new concepts,
such as the latest types of services offered or new tasks for the people involved in
this sector. Examples include: tour operator and package holiday
b. Conciseness
Concepts are expressed in the shortest possible form. The need for conciseness
generally leads to a reduction in textual surface, as for example in blending, that is,
in the process of merging two lexemes into a single term. Examples of blending:
Campsite < camping + site; Ecotourism < ecological + tourism; Motel < motor +
In other cases, greater conciseness is achieved through reduction of the term itself:
rep < representative.
Sometimes conciseness in the language of tourism relies on acronyms and
abbreviations: GMT < Greenwich Mean Time; ID < identity card
c. The relationship with general language
Semantic evolution very often originates from the specialisation of word meanings
in the general language.
Another common device used in specialized discourse to create terms drawn from
general language is metaphorisation. Metaphor creation is a frequent feature not
only in everyday language, but also of specialist texts.
e. The relationship with specialised languages
The lexicon of tourism is greatly indebted to semantic fields belonging to other
specialized languages. Examples include: Economics = whose terms are used as
regards payments and other commercial transactions. Geography = whose lexis is
used in guides and brochures describing tourist resorts and destinations. The
history of art = whose specialized terms are employed for the description of
monuments and other important sights. Cuisine and craftsmanship = with names of
typical specialities and crafts. Transport = with names of specific means mentioned
in holiday descriptions and documentation
f. The use of emphatic language
A feature of specialized language is the lack of emotive connotation, as the tone of
specialized discourse is usually neutral, as its illocutory force derives from the
logical, consequential arrangement of concepts and of supporting evidence rather
than the use of emphatic style. However, lack of emotion prevails when a text is
mainly informative. If the pragmatic purpose is persuasive (e.g. advertising

messages or argumentative messages), the emphasis on emotion surfaces also in

specialized texts.
Touristic texts with persuasive (rather than informative) function (e.g. tour
operators brochures and other advertising materials) = the lexis used in these cases
is often very emphatic and highly evaluative: Unique shopping centre / smart
boutiques / welcoming pubs / luxuriant vegetation / richly-decorated faade /
picturesque fishing harbour / breathtaking views / idyllic golden beaches.
Emphasis can also operate though superlative forms: Londons most popular
Syntactic features of the language of tourism:
a. Expressing conciseness
Specialized discourse exhibits extremely compact syntactic structures, according to
the principle of conciseness. A specific case is represented by the linguistic
strategies employed in English texts referring to tourism to avoid relative clauses
and make the sentence structure lighter. For example, it is possible to find the
substitution of relative clauses with lexemes generally obtained by means of
affixation. The prefixes and suffixes generally adopted have precise semantic values,
which enable the decoder to interpret their communicative function appropriately.
Examples: Self-catering accommodation = accommodation where you cook your
own meals. Intercity sleeper = an Intercity train in which you can sleep
Another strategy to simplify a relative clause containing a passive form consists in
omitting its agent and auxiliary: Pre-arranged car rental = car rental which has
been arranged.
b. premodification
The phenomenon of relative clauses reduction shows a frequent switch from
postmodification to premodification, since the syntactic rules of English allow
several adjectival uses of phrasal elements. While many languages (such as Italian)
rely on left-to-right construction, English can easily employ right-to-left
construction, which shortens sentences and make the noun phrase especially dense.
A particular feature of the right-to-left pattern is nominal adejctivation, i.e. the use
of a noun to specify another with an adjectival function. Some examples: Tour
operator / study holiday / airline ticket / travel centre
Compounds consisting of two short nouns soon merge into a single term after a
certain period of use: at first the nouns are hyphenated and subsequently they
become one word. Examples include: airline, railcard, timetable, travelcard.
Textual features of the language of tourism:
a. Text genres
Connection between the type of specialized text and its structure > a number of
correlations between the conceptual, rhetorical and linguistic features that
characterise the text itself.
Genre not only provides a conventional framework (with an overall pragmatic
function, e.g. report, information, discussion etc.) but also affects all other textual
features and constrains their conceptual and rhetorical development, which in turn
determines the linguistic choices made as the text unfolds. The most typical genres
in the world of tourism are: Tourist guides, articles in the specialized journals and
general magazines, brochures and other advertising materials, itineraries,
professional correspondence
b. Textual organisation
The textual genres commonly used in tourism discourse are highly codified. This
considerable codification increases semantic-conceptual coherence and
transparency. Texts consist of standardized parts which are constitutive of the
genres themselves. For example, an itinerary can generally contain the following
sections: an easily understood title; an indication of the geographical location;
directions on how to reach this place; a mention of the climate; a description of any
scenic beauty; a mention of nay archaeological, historical or artistic features;

cuisine; accommodation options; sports and entertainment facilities; attractive

illustrations; shopping hints; special events; address for obtaining further
In professional correspondence, the main types of letter/email are generally
grouped into categories according to their pragmatic function: enquiries, offers,
orders, complaints, reminders, etc. Each category follows a standard pattern with
certain sections arranged in a set sequence. These texts do not normally require
much creative effort on the writers part, because the sender tends to use
standardised letter formulae, which will then be customised by adding details of the
transaction concerned.
Brochures are advertising materials produced to attract the traveller, to present and
sell a tourist product, they inform, but above all persuade the reader through
predictable features of the genre, standardised formulae and technical terminology.
Brochures can be very articulated and extended to reach the dimensions of
catalogues or very synthetic and reduced, thus similar to leaflets.
Some strategies to deal with the translation of food-related words in tourism texts (from
Italian into English):
1) Use of the Italian term with key adjectives
2) Use of Italian term with the English superordinate
3) Use of the Italian term with the English equivalent
4) Use of the Italian term with an English explanation/gloss in brackets
5) Use of the Italian term with an English explanation after a comma
6) Use of the Italian term with English explanation in a new sentence
7) Use of the English term with the Italian equivalent term in brackets
Source language: Italian
Torino laperitivo
Larte di godersi la vita
Nellatmosfera frizzante dei locali alla moda
o nei caff storici lart de vivre di Torino
esplode allora dellaperitivo: cocktail, vino
e mille prelibatezze ti aspettano in citt.

Target language: English

Turin is the aperitif
The art of enjoying life
In the sparkling atmosphere of trendy spots
and historic cafs, the art de vivre of Turin
explodes at the hour of the aperitif:
cocktails, wine and thousands of hors
doeuvres await you in the city.
A celebration every day
Under the arcades in the centre, in piazza
Vittorio Veneto, in the characteristic
Quadrilatero Romano or in the dehors of
the Murazzi del Po, there are many places
where you can choose your favourite
aperitif, whether trendy or ethnic,
traditional or innovative.
What a taste, what a pleasure!
A mixture of white wine, herbs and spices,
vermouth is one of the basic ingredients of
the aperitif. It was invented right in Turin,
back in 1786, and later exported all over the
world. It is here, though, that you can
discover its roots and at the same time
experience it in present day terms.
The aperitif in Turin has always been
extremely rich. Theres drinking, of course,
but accompanied by excellent food: plates
of cheeses, and cold cuts, the famous
breadsticks of Turin, light appetizers,

Tutti i giorni una festa

Sotto i portici del centro, in piazza Vittorio
Veneto, nel caratteristico Quadrilatero
Romano oppure nei de hors dei Murazzi del
Po: sono tantissimi i locali in cui scegliere il
tuo aperitivo preferito: che sia trendy o
etnico, tradizionale o innovativo.
Che sapore, che piacere
Miscela di vino bianco, erbe e spezie, il
vermouth uno dei capisaldi dellaperitivo.
Ed proprio Torino il luogo in cui nato,
nel lontano 1786, per essere poi esportato in
tutto il mondo. Ma qui che puoi scoprirne
le radici e contemporaneamente viverlo nel
modo pi attuale.
Laperitivo di Torino sempre stato molto
ricco. Si beve, certo, ma in compagnia di
ottimi cibi: taglieri di formaggi e salumi, i
famosi grissini torinesi, stuzzichini light,
accostamenti insoliti, base perfetta per gli

assaggini pi sfiziosi.

unusual combinations and many delicacies

from the gastronomic tradition of
Piedmont, on which the fanciest samplings
are based.

Points to notice in the Italian text:

the use of anglicisms/foresterisms and particular collocations (trendy, art de vivre,
dehors, etnico, light), some of which are now lexicalised, as well as spatial deictical
expressions (Murazzi, Quadrilatero Romano).
From the monolingual Hoepli Italian dictionary: aperitivo = bevanda alcolica o
analcolica che si breve prima dei pasti per stimolare lappetito.
Points to notice in the English text:
aperitif = a drink, usually one containing alcohol, that people sometimes have
just before a meal (Oxford Genie Dictionary); hors doeuvre = food that is served
in small amounts before the main part of the meal (Longman dictionary);
dehors = the expression is not commonly used in English, and therefore appears
to be opaque for the tourist (alfresco = in the open air, e.g. an alfresco lunch
party / eating alfresco). The spatial references (Murazzi, Quadrilatero) are not
translated or glossed. Vermouth = the complex etymology of the word is
connected with Artemisia Absintium, a herbaceous, perennial plant, and
probably derives from Middle English wormwood/ wormwode/ wermode (a
drink used to cure intestinal worms), via Old English wermd (compare it with
German Wermut, which is the lexical base for vermouth).
The English text employs adjectival intensification (extremely rich). Maybe
Turin breadsticks are not particularly known today in English culture, but they
used to, being for example quoted in the Victorian novel News from Nowhere by
William Morris (1890): the thin pipe-stems of wheaten crust, such as I have
eaten in Turin. Cold cuts = slices of cooked meat that are served cold (in the
Italian/English Garzanti dictionary, salume = salami and cold pork meat;
salami, plural salamis = a type of large spicy sausage served in thin slices)