Do you ever find that a certain word or phrase keeps cropping up in your work? In your source material, I mean, not your end-product.

For me right now it’s “credibility” (or credibilità, to be precise). That’s because I do a lot of translation and editing for Italian government organisations and Italy is focused on rebuilding its international credibility. So in speeches by the Italian Foreign Minister and President Napolitano (yes, name-dropping), the word “credibility” crops up over and over again.

This may just be “‘frequency illusion’ – the illusion in which a word, a name or other thing that has recently come to one’s attention suddenly appears ‘everywhere’ with improbable frequency” (thank you, Wikipedia, and here are more forms of cognitive bias for you to while away some time with).

“Credible” or “credibility” occurred 9 times in the UK Chancellor’s Mansion House Speech on 13 April on the state of the economy on 13 April:

  1. This Coalition Government […] set out a credible and steady plan to reduce our country’s record deficit
  2. The credibility of our strategy has been rewarded in the markets
  3. it would be perverse to argue that the credibility of the UK’s fiscal consolidation has not been a crucial factor
  4. Indeed it is our fiscal credibility that has created the space for the Bank of England to undertake QE [quantitative easing] on a large scale
  5. So promises of consolidation tomorrow are not credible
  6. the balance of risks in the UK argues strongly in favour of credible deficit reduction
  7. credibility is hard-won and easily lost, and losing it is extremely costly
  8. the credibility we have enables us to do a great deal more than some other countries at present
  9. we can also use the credibility of the public sector balance sheet to support investment and the flow of credit now

George Osborne was referring to the credibility of the UK’s policies and strategies, while Italian politicians (in the texts I’ve been working on, anyway) have been focusing on the credibility of Italy itself.

As a translator, I can’t help but wonder: if credibility is so important, why do so many Italian institutions, businesses and organisations entrust their translation projects to charlatans — or amateurs, to give them the benefit of the doubt — who churn out sheer guff?

Anyway, that grumble aside, a question: have you noticed any words or phrases cropping up more frequently than usual in your source material? Let us know in the comments!

By Marian Dougan


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