Tito Boeri, un noto economista italiano, in un recente tweet scrive:

Tremo all[']idea di un Senato composto da consiglieri regionali non eletti per questo. Sono la componente meno accountable del ceto politico.

Sapreste dirmi se esiste una parola italiana che renda accountable come usato nel predetto tweet?

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    I think that, if such a word existed, Boeri would have used it. I am afraid that in Italian you would have to say: «Sono la componente del ceto politico dotata di minor senso di responsabilità ed affidabilità» or even «Sono la componente meno responsabilizzata del ceto politico» – user193 Jan 21 '14 at 8:59
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    @randomatlabuser Ciò non toglie che la frase poteva essere scritta senza usare parole straniere. – martina Jan 21 '14 at 9:13
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    Nope, "accountable" is not just "responsabile" :-) I hope sometimes today I will send you some explanation and evidence: "accountable" is when you are actually held responsible for your actions because somebody is actually able to force you to take responsibility for your actions and, because you are aware of that, you avoid misbehaviours. It is not your virtue, it is a necessity due to the way a system works (and it has different degrees of effectiveness, it is not just a legal notion). – user193 Jan 21 '14 at 13:04
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    @martina, I see you added an apostrofo in the Boeri's sentence, but in the original version it was absent; so I think in such cases, in order to not corrupt the original, one should write ['], no? – Kyriakos Kyritsis Jan 21 '14 at 20:42
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    @martina: I disagree. Verbatim quotation should not be modified unless the changes are explicitly pointed out, as Kyriakos suggests. – DaG Jan 21 '14 at 22:13

The adjective "accountable" is more specific than "responsible": you can be legally responsible without being accountable or being very little accountable because nobody or no body is actually able to ask you to account for your actions with effectiveness.

So "accountable" is when you are actually held responsible for your actions because somebody or some body is actually able to force you to take responsibility for your actions and, because you are aware of that, you avoid misbehaviours and do your best to actually behave with responsibility.

This is not your virtue, it is a necessity due to the way a system works (and it has different degrees of effectiveness, it is not just an abstract legal notion).

In Italian no adjective renders this notion. In my personal opinion "responsabilizzato" is the closest term (definitions from Treccani and Corriere): it is when you are made responsible for your actions (or trained to behave with responsibility). So you could say: «Sono la componente meno responsabilizzata del ceto politico».

Otherwise you would need a longer expression as «Sono la componente del ceto politico dotata di minor senso di responsabilità ed affidabilità». "Senso di responsabilità" would render the self-awareness that is implied in the notion of accountability. "Affidabilità" would render the effectiveness of your responsibility.

I will look into it further for evidence in support of the opinion expressed above. This is one. This is another. This in the army. On Google Scholar you can find lots of published studies where the words occur. Some sources suggesting the word cannot be directly translated in Italian: 1, 2, 3, 4.

EDIT: following doubts in the comments, I have collected a quite large sample from The New York Times and The Economist which should convince anyone that the two adjectives, "accountable" and "responsible", are not interchangeable:

  • «If not accountable, let's hope they are at least responsible»
  • «Hold me accountable for the debacle. I'm responsible»
  • «Governments which are not accountable to their subjects are, strictly speaking, not responsible. They are irresponsible»
  • «It reminds them that they are part of a community that requires them to be responsible and accountable for their behavior and acts»
  • «Make government employee and politicians responsible and accountable»
  • «You are personally responsible for your own actions and accountable for your own actions»
  • «John Deutch, the Director of Central Intelligence, has responded to the Guatemala case with admirable determination to make the C.I.A. more responsible and accountable»
  • «He is responsible (and accountable) for the performance of more than a dozen agencies involved in foreign intelligence collection and analysis»
  • «It is a system which casts the mayor as an outsider who is neither accountable nor responsible for the performance of perhaps the most important municipal activity»
  • «… the onus of policing social policy and protecting the environment is on local governments, and it is local policy makers who should ultimately be held accountable and responsible if and when egregious failures occur»
  • «In 2005, the Bush administration wisely challenged China to become a responsible stakeholder in the international system and to make its government responsible and accountable to its people»
  • «The World; Accountable, Responsible or Something in Between»

  • «The international community has a moral and political responsibility to hold accountable those responsible»

  • «The voters are unable to throw the bums out because there is no means of holding accountable those who are responsible»
  • «I want to know when my government is misbehaving. These sorts of leaks are the only way that those responsible can be held accountable»
  • «The best hope of getting responsible decisions by technocrats on their technologies is to make them personally accountable»
  • «The question is no longer who is responsible. The question now is whether they will be held accountable»
  • «Mr Obama promised that if banks need more aid, “we will hold accountable those responsible”»
  • «He said his ultimate goal was to hold accountable those responsible for Syria's destruction»
  • «Yes, the I.R.S. made egregious mistakes and those responsible should be held accountable»
  • «If this is true, there should be an investigation and those responsible held accountable»
  • «Those responsible for CAR violence must be held accountable»
  • «This wanton killing and maiming should be stopped and those responsible held accountable»
  • «Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. promised Tuesday that federal officials would work to hold those responsible accountable»
  • «Our investigation remains active in the expectation that we will ultimately hold accountable the person responsible for this crime»
  • «The F.D.I.C. brings this complaint to hold these highly paid senior executives, who were chiefly responsible for WaMu’s higher-risk home lending program, accountable for the resulting losses»
  • «There will be proposals for ways to prevent these rare, devastating events and for holding responsible parties accountable»
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    now I can comment! great, I ignored the meaning too. Thank you, sir – Leggy7 Jan 21 '14 at 14:17

It's very important to keep in mind here that Boeri writes about political accountability, which has a specific definition: it is the accountability of the government, civil servants, and politicians to the public, i.e. to their voters.

Esempio classico di responsabilità politica diffusa è quella dell’eletto nei confronti degli elettori: un giudizio negativo sull'operato del primo lo sottopone a critiche e gli fa perdere consenso tra i secondi, fino a pregiudicare la sua possibilità di rielezione. (Wiki)

In the political context, it's possible to talk about "accountability" in English without necessary adding the word "political", because its modern usage is unmistakably different from the word responsibility. In Italian, however, the same word "responsabilità" is used in political, legal, and social context with an appropriate adjective, e.g., responsabilità politica, responsabilità civile, responsabilità morale, etc. Moreover, within the public policy evaluation field, it's the rule for almost all languages to use the word "accountability" without translation.
So, since it's a commonly accepted term in politics and also because it'd be difficult to construct a short and meaningful sentence in Italian with a compound adjective (Sono la componente meno responsabile politicamente del ceto politico - looks awful), it might be considered appropriate to use a borrowed English word in such cases to convey the meaning.

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da wordreference significa:

  • tenuto a rispondere di qualcosa
  • che deve rispondere delle proprie azioni, che è responsabile delle proprie azioni
  • responsabile

tecnicamente la sua frase dovrebbe spezzare una lancia in favore di consiglieri politici che per cause di forza maggiore si trovano a fare un lavoro non adatto a loro.


I update my answer because I cannot comment @randomatlabuser answer.

see his answer for a more complete definition of accountability. Aside this, I don't know how much Tito Boeri was educted on the meaning. I mean, like @nico said in his comment to the question, since it was posted on twitter he could have just used a shorter cool word to cut a longer sentece :)

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