Google adapts its terms and conditions – and its language

I’ve got set up as my browser home page. I usually just glance at the little announcements under the logo and search box. However, this morning I noticed the announcement on the changes to their terms and conditions. It said:

We’re changing our privacy policy and terms. Not the usual yada yada. Learn more

I was curious to see if the UK site also used the term “not the usual yada yada”. It didn’t:

We’re changing our privacy policy and terms. This stuff matters. Learn more

The French site has:

Nos règles de confidentialité et d’utilisation évoluent. En plus clair et plus concis. En savoir plus

And the Italian site has the bald:

Stiamo cambiando le norme sulla privacy e i termini di servizio. Ulteriori informazioni

So in Google’s view, do Italians dislike a touch of informality in their terms and conditions announcements ? Is the concept of “clearer and more concise” anathema to them? (Judging by the material I translate, I’d have to answer “yes” to that one).

Any thoughts? Italian readers, your views are very welcome! What do other countries’ sites say?

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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  1. Was curious to see what the German version said: “Wir ändern unsere Datenschutzbestimmungen und Nutzungsbedingungen. Mehr erfahren”

    I’m not in the least surprised… :-]

  2. Interesting. In Spain it’s “Hemos actualizado nuestra política de privacidad y los términos y condiciones. Más información” – so, similar to the Italians. How popular is Google in these countries? Is there a different brand identity?

  3. What surprises me to a degree is that the privacy policy itself hasn’t been changed according to country. It’s clear that split testing is applicable for marketing purposes only and the business end of the proposal befits all users regardless of origin.

  4. The Slovene site says “Spreminjamo pravilnik o zasebnosti in pogoje. To je pomembno. Več o tem” – “We’re changing our privacy policy and conditions. This is important. More about it”. – closer to the English phrasing

  5. This is taken from Google Portugal: “Importante: vamos mudar a nossa política de privacidade e os termos de utilização. Saiba mais”.

    Well fair enough, the Portuguese aren’t really famous for their sense of humour…

  6. Interested in your comment about the Italian being ‘bald’ (let alone the etymology of that word….)

    Italian often seems like that – you often hear ‘fammi un cafe- Make me a coffee!’ at the bar. There’ll be a ‘thank you’ when it arrives but very often there’s no please and it sounds like an order. Ye at other times the language can SO florid that translated directly into English it sounds absurdly gushing!

    1. Good point – there can be an odd contrast between the brusqueness of everyday transactions (especially where bureaucrats are concerned!) and the floridity of much written Italian. Including where it’s not appropriate, eg websites.

  7. So…recently I’ve learnt that to the italian public the sense of humor of Lonely Planet’s writers isn’t, sometimes, deferential. So the editor wants the translators to be more serious in his italian version….what a pity!


  8. Same thing applies for localization: Microsoft guidelines indicate to expunge from the text (American English) anything too “personal” or “informal”…

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