Translingual slogan hacking

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In the current Italian election campaign, Mario Monti's slogan has been "L'Italia che sale":

Although Google Translate thinks that this means "Italy and salt", in fact it means "The Italy that moves up" or "The Italy that rises", or something along those lines. (The verb is salire, which can mean "rise", "come/go up", "increase", "grow", "advance", "progress", etc.)

However, a bit of translingual intervention changes the meaning into something less inspirational:

[h/t Andrea Mazzucchi]

Update — Another example, found here:

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27 Comments »

  1. Ross Presser said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 9:54 am

    For what it's worth: Google translate now produces "Italy rising" as a translation. Human intervention?

  2. Björn said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 10:10 am

    'Sale' can also mean rooms. I saw a sign in a café in Orvieto, Italy some years ago. To indicate there was more room to sit on the floor above, it said "Sale al piano superiore".

    Below, in English: "Salt upstairs".

  3. Gianluca Lentini said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    'The rising Italy' or 'the progressing Italy', as opposed to 'the falling Italy' or 'the declining Italy'. Former PM Mario Monti has stated that his campaign wants to emphasize the fact that *his* Italy has been improving her economic performance and has seen her economical indices 'rising', in sharp contrast with his predecessor's performances.

    The 'FOR sale' correction, on the other hand, highlights the fact that Monti's critics think that his government has 'sold' the country to foreign interests and would continue to do so.

    All in all, a pretty interesting political and linguistical dispute.

    By the way, Monti's new party is called 'Civic Choice: with Monti for Italy'.

    Greetings from Milan,

    Gianluca

  4. Linda said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 10:58 am

    Not being familiar with Italian, but having a little French, I read it as "Italy is filthy." and wondered if that was meant to be read "Italy is corrupt."

  5. Tandem78 said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    Wouldn't that be something like L'Italia c'è sale?

  6. Paolo said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 11:44 am

    Some background information on L'Italia che sale. It is part of a war of metaphors between Monti and Berlusconi.

    Berlusconi started his political career with the slogan scendere in campo, literally "go down into the field", which originally was only used in soccer (go in, take the field) but quickly took on the additional meaning of "entering the political arena".
    When Monti, a technocrat, decided to enter the fray himself, he started talking about salire in politica, "go up", "ascend", which should to communicate a loftier purpose and signal a complete break from Berlusconi.

  7. Paolo said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 11:45 am

    Some background information on L'Italia che sale. It is part of a war of metaphors between Monti and Berlusconi.

    Berlusconi started his political career with the slogan scendere in campo, literally "go down into the field", which originally was only used in soccer (go in, take the field) but quickly took on the additional meaning of "entering the political arena".
    When Monti, a technocrat, decided to enter the fray himself, he started talking about salire in politica, "go up", "ascend", which should communicate a loftier purpose and signal a complete break from Berlusconi.

  8. Paolo said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    …which should try to communicate…

  9. naddy said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

    @Linda,
    but approaching this from French, it fairly obviously reads "L'Italie qui <verbe>" and the big question is what verb corresponds to "sale"… maybe "saute"? The Italy that jumps? Which, as it turns out, is indeed pretty close.

  10. Ellen K. said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

    "L'Italia che sale" still gets "Italy and salt" as a translation. It's "Italia che sale" that gets "Italy rising" as a translation. Interesting that when you leave off the definite article it gets a different translation.

    [(myl) Curiously, it even depends on capitalization. "l'Italia che sale" translates as "Italy and salt":

    But "L'italia che sale" translates as "Italy rising":

    ]

  11. marie-lucie said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

    L'Italie qui …: the Italian verb is salire 'to go up, to rise', = Fr monter, not saltare 'to jump', = Fr sauter.

    The most natural French translation is L'Italie qui monte, which includes yet another pun on the name of the leader, Mario Monti.

  12. Ted said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

    Wouldn't "Sale al piano superiore" mean "Salt on a better piano"?

  13. Glen Gordon said,

    January 22, 2013 @ 11:57 pm

    Personally, my French-coloured glasses fool me into seeing: "L'Italie, quelle sale!" Lol! How rude, of course, but my decrepit brain takes me to these dark places against my will. :o)

    Since we're on this lost-in-translation trip, I may as well add that the French equivalent of Italian salire is saillir 'to protrude'. Yet "L'Italie qui saillit!" would only complicate things further in ways that should not be uttered around children. :o)

  14. RobertL said,

    January 23, 2013 @ 12:08 am

    My favourite "hacked" sign was one that I saw in country Victoria, Australia. We drove into some little seaside town, and it had one of those "Welcome to…" signs made out of painted, rustic-style, split logs.

    The top half of the sign said, "Welcome to…" and the bottom half said "Paradise by the sea".

    In front of the word "paradise" someone had painted, "they paved".

    Joni Mitchell would be proud!

  15. Barney said,

    January 23, 2013 @ 8:15 am

    @Ross Presser

    Yes, it probably is human intervention, but the humans involved are probably not Google employees. Whenever you use Google Translate you can click on any word in the output and change it something else. Google will be storing this data and using it to adjust the translations it presents to other people.

    There's also a 'Rate translation' box. I expect for some phrases Google may be offering a range of different translations to different users and comparing the ratings they get, and using that data as part of the input to the translation system.

  16. marie-lucie said,

    January 23, 2013 @ 8:31 am

    Glen Gordon: the French equivalent of Italian salire is saillir 'to protrude'

    I think you mean the French cognate, meaning that the French and Italian words are descended from the same Latin word. "Equivalent" suggests that they have the same meaning, which they don't.

  17. Ellen K. said,

    January 23, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    Wouldn't "Sale al piano superiore" mean "Salt on a better piano"?

    My Italian is limited, but from what I know (and if it's parallel to Spanish), although "a" might sometimes be translated as "on" it doesn't mean "on", it means "at" or "to", with an "on" meaning, where appropriate, coming from the context.

    Whether superiore can mean superior (and thus "better") I don't know. And whether pianoforte gets shortened to piano in Italian, like it does in English, I don't know. Though it appears pianoforte is the normal name for the instrument in Italian.

  18. Glen Gordon said,

    January 23, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

    Marie-Lucie: "'Equivalent' suggests that they have the same meaning, which they don't."

    Glad you pieced it together without my help! ;o)

  19. Paolo said,

    January 23, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

    @Ted and Ellen K., piano (noun) is indeed the word we normally use to describe the musical instrument, reserving pianoforte to more formal contexts, but its main meanings are "floor" (storey), "plane" and "plan"; it can also be an adjective ("flat", "flush") and an adverb ("slowly"). The adjective superiore can mean "superior" (i.e. above others) but it is mainly used as "higher", "upper", "above".

  20. Carlos Wagner said,

    January 24, 2013 @ 10:57 am

    In Spanish is almost the same: La Italia que sale but.

    I'm not sure if 'salir' would mean 'rise' (salir means to go out), so the best translation it would be 'La Italia que levanta'

    Saludos desde México!

  21. Carlos Wagner said,

    January 24, 2013 @ 11:00 am

    *sorry for the but in the first paragraph, interrupted idea I think

  22. Chandra said,

    January 24, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    My first reading was influenced by Spanish "salir" (which is odd, because I know far more French than Spanish), so I thought it meant something like "Italy that goes out" – takes its place on the stage, sorts itself out, comes out of a darker era, something like that.

  23. pepon said,

    January 25, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

    In Spanish it would be "La Italia que 'se' levanta", but a better translation would be "La Italia que surge".

  24. David Marjanović said,

    January 27, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

    L'Italie qui …: the Italian verb is salire 'to go up, to rise', = Fr monter, not saltare 'to jump', = Fr sauter.

    These words are connected, but only through the history of Latin: Latin made so-called frequentatives of verbs by adding -ta- at the end of the stem. The frequentatives of some verbs still referred to repeated action in Classical Latin, for others (like saltare from salire) this had become quite vague by then, and for yet others the connection was lost without a trace: cantare, just plain "to sing", is from canere, "to sing about [something]" (as in the beginning of the Aeneid: Arma virumque cano – "I sing about the weapons and the man").

  25. sara said,

    January 28, 2013 @ 4:48 am

    Actually, in Italian "salire" is also a well-known circumlocution for referring to the effects of drugs like ecstasy, amphetamines and the like. There are many songs about that. To many Italian people up to 40-45 year olds, "Italy rising" sounds like the motto for a club along the Adriatic riviera of the 90s or 2000s, and, as a political slogan, is quite misplaced.

  26. Ted said,

    January 28, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    I love it — "Italy getting high."

  27. stringph said,

    February 1, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

    And in English: 'saltatory motion' is scientific paper for 'jumping'.

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