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Focus On Italian Language and Culture

21st August 2019

Trade between the UK and Italy was valued at £44.5 billion in 2018. Are you ready to claim your share?


Lombardy, in the North West, is Italy’s most populous region and its commercial heartland. It generates 20% of National GDP with roughly two thirds of the regional workforce employed in the service sector. 40% of Lombardy’s companies are based in Milan, with notable strengths in electronics, metallurgy, textiles and pharmaceuticals. The Italian Stock Exchange, one of the Europe’s leading stock markets, can also be found in Milan.


Italian translations use gendered nouns, something you won’t find in English. That doesn’t raise any issues when the genders are self-explanatory, as with “la ragazza” (the girl) or “il ragazzo” (the boy). But if you’re translating words such as “the lawyer,” “the teacher,” or “the doctor”, then you need a skilled linguist to analyse the context and clarify if the people in question are male or female.


While many major corporations have exported to Italy with great success, some have stumbled. When Schweppes first advertised their tonic water to Italian consumers they chose not to translate the word “water” into the Italian equivalent “acqua”. No one in the Schweppes marketing team realised that the English word “water” is interpreted as “toilet” by Italians.


While Italy is home to over thirty regional languages and dialects, the dominant language we know as Italian is an evolved version of 13th century Florentine. When Italy was unified in 1861 very few people could speak it; 97% of the population spoke other regional variants. Today 95% of the population speak Italian, with only an isolated few holding on to regional choices.


Trade between the UK and Italy was valued at £44.5 billion in 2018, a year on year increase of 3.4%. The drive to create a more modern health service has created a market for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and e-health applications. And this year Italy launches its national artificial intelligence strategy, with innovation driving forward digitisation of both public and private sectors.

Is it time to turn your eyes towards Italy? 

Conversis: helping you speak to the world

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