The relationship between a term and its meaning is changeable and unstable over time, as well as moving from one discipline to another: in other words, the same term used in different historical periods can have considerably different meanings and even among contemporaries, the same word can take on meanings or shades of meaning quite different depending on the subject or scientific discipline in which the term is used and the ideological structure of the user.
When moving from a language to another, there is sometimes a semantic difference between words that are lexically equivalent. Furthermore, in any language, the same word can have different meaning when used in different context.
We need to take care, when translating or speaking in a language that is not our mother tongue, even in case we are enough fluent, in order to know exactly the meaning of the words we are saying, to avoid any misunderstanding.
When writing, it is advisable to explain the meaning we are giving to a controversial term, even in case we are writing in our own language, like we are normally doing when writing a contract. Ancient theological books opened any matter with the explicatio terminorum (explanation of terms). The intent was to avoid any possible misunderstanding in the use of terms that may have unique meanings, similar, but also quite different.
The following must be noted:
- Ingegneria Economica in Italian has a wider meaning than the English “Total Cost Management”.
- The term “Cost Engineering” is normally translated in Italian as Ingegneria dei Costi, however this a term difficult to explain to Italians.
- On the other side, Project Finance is normally translated in Italian as Finanza di Progetto or Finanza Strutturata while the term Ingegneria Finanziaria seems to have a negative meaning, due to how the term has been used in television and other media.
- Project controls in English has a wider meaning than controllo in Italian and contrôle in French, where it would be probably more suitable the word maîtrise.
- In military terminology, both in English and Italian, “command” and “controls” have a different meaning.
- The correct word monizione for “monitoring” is not common in Italian, while is used the word monitoraggio that is actually a loan of a Latin word through the English language.