Foreign Language Translation Books

Italian: Such a Lyrical Language!

Recollections of an Italian interpreter & translator

With over 80 languages spoken just in Peterborough, it’s no wonder the area’s professional interpreters and translators are kept busy!

Anne Castellano has been helping non-English speakers in various situations for over 30 years, working as a freelance Italian interpreter and translator.

With many thousands of hours of experience in diverse settings, she is equally at home interpreting in operating theatres as in prisons and has vast experience of working with the Police, the Courts at all levels, the Probation Service, Solicitors, Hospitals, Clinics, GP surgeries, mortuaries, Social Services, Driving Theory Tests, dentists, opticians and many more.

As you can imagine, this has given rise to many interesting, humorous and sometimes scary situations!

There are certain consultants and nurses at the local hospital who go into raptures when they hear Anne in full flow – “keep talking, it’s such a lyrical language, it sounds beautiful!” is the cry.

In the courtroom, Anne says, “if the Italian speaker shouts, I have to shout and if they swear, I have to too! It all adds to the passion and intensity of the exchange!”

The mood and temperament have to be matched.

Once, on a hospital ward, the patient in bed was being repositioned and the nurses ploughed ahead with their ‘manhandling’ as they thought she was saying, “that’s better!” – until Anne pointed out that what she was actually saying was “Aspetta!”, ie. Wait!! Hang on!!

Humour does play a part as Italian can be a very expressive language with much ‘allegria’ in it – a certain type of humour can also have its place as Anne often discovers when interpreting for Police officers in the custody suite – she comments, “how else can the boys in blue cope with what they have to put up with on a day to day basis without their black humour to keep them sane?!”

Nowadays some people say why employ an interpreter when we have Google translate?

Anne’s reply, based on experience, is always – “that’s fine if you want the translation for a cricket ball to come back as a dance for insects!”

…there simply is no substitute for face to face contact.

Anne Castellano

No machine can reflect the subtleties and nuances of language and the message has to be conveyed in the right tone.

The competent interpreter can gauge the setting and the appropriate register to adopt to ensure that the client or patient has completely understood.

Anne adds that it is equally true that a good interpreter should act as a mirror between the two languages and the best interpreters are considered to be virtually invisible, ie. the conversation or questioning flows effortlessly between the two languages without the presence of the interpreter being noticed or feeling at all intrusive.

Anne says how satisfying it is to be able to bring clarity to a situation and, often, calm people down.

Imagine not fully understanding what a doctor or police officer or a social worker is trying to say to you… it can be very upsetting and nerve racking.

Simply hearing your native tongue can be like adding a calming balm to the mix. Someone who can explain what is going on!

Anne always reflects that the presence of an interpreter can be a double boon to the non-English speaker – not only can they then understand what is being said to them, they are also able to express themselves fully in their mother tongue, asking whatever questions they wish or explaining their situation in their own words.

It’s clear that Anne gets a real buzz from her work, her favourite bookings are those that allow her to be present in the delivery suite for the arrival of a newborn baby.

She reports, “I have helped deliver several babies over the years and it is always a real joy and privilege!”

The variety of the profession never ceases to amaze, one day Anne may be at her desk translating legal documents and the next she may be engaged in conference interpreting or a home visit to an elderly person or, on occasions, doing voiceovers for promo or training films.

Confidentiality is also paramount.

Anne explains, “The local Italian community is still very tight-knit with virtually everyone knowing everyone else. It is therefore essential that whoever I am interpreting for has the utmost confidence that nothing that is discussed will ever be repeated.”

“I always stress, right from the outset of any scenario, that our entire encounter will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.”

It is this trust and confidence that has led to Anne’s numerous excellent rapports with both professionals and Italian speakers alike.

Story Contributed By: Anne Castellano

If you would like to book Anne for an interpreting assignment or you have any documentation which requires translating from Italian to English or vice versa, please call 0774 81 55 359 for a quotation or email her on