On Translation of Advertisements

By Gladys Lawson,2014-04-05 21:32
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On Translation of Advertisements

    On Translation of Advertisements

    Advertisement is a way of persuading people to spend money to purchase Abstract:

    its goods. It can introduce products to the whole society. People may know the product‟s function or other information through advertisement. Then the target customers will get familiar with it, then like it even buy it. Good advertisement plays an important role in marketing. With the development of globalization, a good advertisement doesn‟t only have function in its native country, but also spread its effect abroad. Different countries speak different languages. How to make the foreigners understand the advertisement, then open up the foreign market has become a new problem. The present paper talks about the function, the principle and the strategy of advertisement translation. Translating an advertisement not only means to translate it letter by letter, but also keeps its original features and the function of marketing. The faithfulness, expressiveness and elegance principles work on translation of English advertisement. The psychology elements affect advertisement greatly. The translator should take into consideration, too. The balance of creation and faithfulness in advertisement translation is to achieve pragmatic equivalence. .









    Key words: advertising translation; advertising function; stylistic feature;

    translation principle; translation strategy

    关键词?广告翻译? 广告功能? 文体特征 ?翻译原则? 翻译策略

    On Translation of Advertisements

1. Introduction of advertisement

    2. Function of advertising

    2.1. The marketing function

    2.2. The communication function

    2.3. The economic function

    2.4 .The social function and educational function 3. The principles of translating advertisement 3.1. The relation of faith and creation

    3.2. The expressiveness principle in translation 3.3. The elegance principle works in translating advertisement

    3.4. Illustration with translated language and culture 4. Translation methods of advertisement

    4.1. Characteristics of advertisement

    4.2. Translation of metaphors in advertisement 4.3


I. Introduction of advertisement

     American Marketing Association (AMA) defines advertising as “the non-personal

    communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media.” Today, with the development of the technology and the diversity of the mass media, advertisements are

     In fact advertisement has become a very important commonly used everywhere~

    resource of getting information and an essential part of people's daily life.Many people regard advertisement as a new activity and the word “advertise” a new word either. That is wrong. The English word “advertise” originated from the Latin word“advertise”,which concludes a meaning as attracting attention. The earliest shop sign as we known appea- red in ancient Rome. And there are also many acoustics advertising and material advertising in ancient China like play flute, peddle and wine flag.With the development of society, advertisement keeps its pace with the time. In modern times advertisement becomes an important part of the strategy of marketing. Because there is a diversity of the mass media and there are various goods, advertising has influenced us pervasively in our daily life. However, whatever the primitive strategies advertising takes, language is the main carrier of message. Schroder says, “Advertising takes many forms, but in most of them, language is a style of immediate impact and rapid persuasion. The point of an advertisement is to persuade you of the merits of a particular product or services, in order

    [1]that you will take out some of your money.” translation is a process of recreating, and

    advertisement translating is a mix of character translating and culture translating. ?. Function of advertising

     Advertising is both applauded and criticized for its role in selling products and its influence on society. For years, advertisement bears critics because it affects people‟s

    judgment on merchandise. Although every one knows that advertising is mainly a commercial method to promote sales, it is still be blamed by encouraging consumption. But the steady consumer growth of advertised product quality provides itself living and developing room. Besides the commercial function, advertising is also a cultural activity, so a translator is not only a translator but also a writer who creates perfect work which can achieve a good sale.

    2.1 The marketing function

     Along with sales promotion, public relations and personal feeling, advertising is one of the vehicles employed by a business or an organization to communicate with its customers or an organization to communicate with its customers. Although advertising is only one element in a company‟s overall promotional program, it is the most visible. It is also the key aim of advertisement.

    2.2 The communication function

     Advertisement is played on TV, printed on magazine, so it is not only a way to show the products or persuade others to buy the products but also transmitting different types of market information to match buyers and sellers in the market place. Advertising both

    informs and transforms the product by creating an image that goes beyond straightforward facts.

    2.3 The economic function

     Advertising is a persuasive tool used by the marketers to distract consumer‟s attention from the price of product, on the other hand, it is also as a source of information that increase consumer‟s price sensitivity and stimulus competition.

    2.4 The social function and educational function

    Although the aim of advertisement is a way of marketing, it has its own influence beyond telling others the function or the information of the product. When we are translating advertisement what does it tell, what does it teach should be considered either. For example, the Nike‟s advertisement is “Just do it!” that a Hong Kong translator translated it into: “想做就做!” It is perfect in literally but received a lot of opposition of Hong Kong citizens. Because generally, the Chinese society is more conservative than American, and the “想做就做”will make people feel it is abetting young people do

    everything as their please, concluding the meaning of doing crime. Finally the translated text changed into “应做就去做This text obeys the Chinese people‟s social custom and

    has no other explanations, then the event quiet down.

? .The principles of translating advertisement

     Faithfulness, expressiveness, graceful principle was first raised by the famous translator Mr. YAN Fu over a century ago. It influenced the later translators and the translated works a lot even play an important role on today translation. But advertisement process information transmitting function and to attract the reader to do what they had expected , and the Expressive function that decorate the product

     Faith means the translator should pass the writer‟s original thought, view, the conclusion of the article, even style to the readers faithfully. It includes three parts, the original or other writer, translator, and the readers of translated works. The translators should faith to both the writer and the readers. But in advertisement translation, the key point of advertising is trying to accomplish the customers and make them finish the buying process. So the utility characteristic has decided the principle of advertisement translation which is much different from usual standard and also in some means advertisement translation is a kind of challenge of it. But faith principles should be considered too. Correctly then maybe can do some small change or recreation on it to make the equity of function, and faith.

     3.1 The relation of faith and creation

     Faith and creation seems hardly harmonized they sometimes conflict in advertising translation process. Traditional translating asks for the writer absolutely faithful to the original writer and the conclusion of original works. It stands for indiscriminately imitating original text. That is a wrong opinion of destroying the conclusion of

    advertisement translation. Of course, we don‟t support the lack fidelity translation but try to find out and make a linear measure of the two. We pay our attention to the creation; it does not mean we absolutely deny the faith but to achieve the faith better. The creation should aim to make the translated text press closer to the original one entirely. 3.2 The expressiveness principle in translation

     The translated text should be expressiveness. Expressiveness means talking the language, culture and other elements of the aimed language group into consideration then to change the emphasis, the point of view and style of advertisement to make them could understandable, acceptable, and be interested in it. In the translating conclusion make sure the advertisement has popular style, attractive ability, and the expression style. The difference in cultures is a serious problem that can not be neglected and it may cause the different way of mind, psychological character and values. All of above may affect the understanding and the effect of advertisement. So the translator‟s task is not only

    transferring the text into another language but also transferring the culture into another. 3.3 The elegance principle works in translating advertisement

     Good advertisement translation doesn‟t only mean the translated text exactly is the

    same with the former one but also means the pleasant to be heard or even both grasp the main idea, easy to attract people‟s attention and make its language concise and easily remembered.

     The translator can use the same way of original text, such as the following example

    “Hi-Fi, Hi-Fun, Hi-Fashion, only from Sony. (Sony) 高保真;高乐趣;高时尚;只

    来自索尼The original text use rhymewhen it is translated we use rhyme “”to

    translate the text directly keep the original style and features. Short sentences can be read concise and powerful; can easily attract customers‟ attention.

    3.4 Illustration with translated language and culture

    Advertising translators should consider the aimed language group is thought patterns in the process of translating so the translator can weaken or even abandon all the original content then turn to seek the reappearance of beauty sense. The aims of advertising are to transfer information, attract customer‟s attention then finish the procedure of trade. In character feature, advertisement is always short and concise, beautiful in character, concluding massive. We should translate it as this standard.

? Translation methods of advertisement

    4.1 Characteristics of advertisement

    “Advertise” means “to call public attention to~Especially by emphasizing desirable

    qualities so as to arouse a desire to buy or patronize~[2] Thereforethe function of ads is

to informinduce audience and express esthetic sense?the aim of the translation should

    also be the samei~e~to induce to promote sales?otherwiseit would not be successful

    translation~The power of sales-promotioncreativenesssense of beauty and cultural

    suitability should be the standard of ads translation~

    The sentences of ads are characterized by “being shortconcise and easy to

    remember”such as „„Mosquito Bye Bye~--insecticide” and “Start

    Ahead~---shampoo”~etc~Besides~they are often full of novelty and originalityfor

    example“The Orange mostest Drink in the world~--orange juice”in which“ mostest‟‟

    is composed by “most‟‟ and -est”~Both of which are the superlative degree of the adjectives~It indicates the high quality and high purity of the juice and leaves large space of imagination to consumers~Thereforemastering the characters of sentences of ads would help translators do the translation more correspondingly to the source language~Besidesas “cognitive models of abstract phenomena are grounded in basic experiences and therefore an essential part of the experiential view of language”[3]

    different culture should also be taken into consideration so that the cultural conflicts could be avoided~

    4.2Translation of metaphors in advertisement

    To explore the international marketit not only demands the high quality of goods

    but also the proper publicityespecially with a striking slogan that always condenses the general characters of goods and impresses consumers a lot~If observing the ads for some

    timewe can see that there are many metaphors used in adsand if these metaphors could

    be translated and used well in exporting or importing countriesit will help to bring great

    profit to enterprises~To some extenttranslating ads to give publicity to goods is the first and key step of export and import~

    The author has collected many materials of ads~Including both Chinese and

    Englishand has found that there are many successful examples which have helped the goods wellknown to the national or even international consumers~In the following

    partcategories will be carried out to explain why these examples are successful and which points the other translators should learn fromso that we can do better translation

    in the future~The two principles of translation of ads are creative translation and functionalism~In factwhen doing translationtranslators could use literal translation

    free translationaddition and delelionetc~i~e~Every means or strategy could be used

    to realize the aim of ads only if the advantages of language and culture could be exerted and the translation could be accepted by consumers~[4]

     (?) Literal translation


    LiuZhong defined “literal translation‟‟ as?Literal translationmeans the approach of

    regarding sentence as the essential part in the translating processmeanwhile retaining

    the sentence structure and figures of speech of the originalwhich arc bound by the

circumstances of culture and habits of language to reproduce textual formcontent and

    style~[5] The literal approach is widely used in the translation of rhetorical constructs if

    advertisements and well received in marketing practice~According to the research done

    by the writer, among 60 advertising passagesthere are about 204 rhetorical sentences

    approximately 50% of which were or should be translated literally. b~Apphcafion of literal translation


    With a single copy of The Globe in handyou can enjoy a wide view of the world~

    The example above is vivid and incomprehensive, the wellpreserved structures and rhetorical

    devices are as brilliant as the originalexpresses positiveattractive information to consumers~

    The rhetorical message and the translation below is successful as well?Big thrills~Small bills~(Taxi)


     This example is antithesis? “big” to“ small” is welldefined contrast~Obviously~Literal

    translation has many other advantages besides retaining the original content, form and style. It introduces some new information of foreign advertisingand meanwhileit can spread Chinese

    rhetorical art widely by means of advertising translation

    (?) Free translation


    Free translation refers to the approach which is used in some situations that the literal

    approach can get nowhere~The translator cannot but abandon or change the original form or rhetorical devicesand then use expressions of target language or words of target language which are intelligibleaccorded with the original meaningsfurthermore, select

    appropriate sentence structures to voice to the original connotations and spirit~In a word

    free translation is an essential approach within no substitute to the translation of rhetorical constructs in advertising.

    b~Appfieation offree translation



     Having experienced one year ofdifficulties and hardshipsINFINITI has grown

    mature and undergone constantimprovement thus creating outstandingachievements


    The leather shoes made here are thick enough?the profit that‟s obtained is slight


    The translation of the second example is not literal but suitable to the original meaning~”is in sharp contrast to“~Meanwhile ”“”are from a delightful

    contrastThe interesting couplet successfully publicizes the characteristics of the products and the company image as wel1~The original language of the example is

    naturalfelicitouslively and visual?howeverit has no corresponding expressions in

    target language~Thereforeit is advisable to use free translation instead of the literal approach?otherwisethe distorted translation will be prolix, incomprehensible and unacceptable for its readers~

    (?) Flexible translation


    Flexible translation is a vividingenious device combined with literal translation and free translation~This approach is beyond all doubt based on the premise of faithfulness~Flexible translation frequently involved in translation of rhetorical constructs in advertising~Moreoversome figures of speech can be translated exactly and flexibly only by this approach~

    b~Application of flexible translation

    Here are some typical examples of flexible translation?

    世界看中国;中国有先科。(VCD广告标语)As she boasts Advanced ScienceChina

    attracts global eyes~


    With boundless love in it~the drink is more than sweets~

     In this lyric slogan the drink is personalized?sweet drink is compared to sweet

    lovethis figure of speech makes an impact 0n readers‟ hearts~The rhymed, affecting

    translation gives customers much more imagination~

    (?) Addition

    Addition can be the addition of words or phrases in the translation text?or the

    extended meaning of some key words in the source text?the aim is to dig out the deep

    meanings or connotations~

    Elegance is an attitude~(Longines)优雅态度~真我性格。

    ELEGANCE IS AN ATTITUDE As for this exampleit is a typical metaphor

    i~e~“elegance”which is a kind of description of people‟s character, becomes an attitude here~If it is translated literally优稚是一种态度the connection of the

    meaning of this slogan with the advertised goods-the watchmay not be so

    clear~Besidesit would be difficult to turn back to the original meaning if using free translation~The translator‟s dealing with this circum stanceis very skillful~ He (she)

    combines the whole sentence as the first part~and add “真我性格”to the whole structure

    to make clear the elegant quality of the advertised watch?Besidesthere is a deep

    meaning contained in this sentencei~e~if consumers wear the watchit can also help

    them appear elegantly~

    You‟re are at 35 000 feet~Your head is in NewYork~Your heart is in Paris~Your

    Rolex can be in both placesat once~(Rolex)

    身在35 000英尺的纽约上空;巴黎的浪漫仍系心中? 唯你的劳力士可两地相容。

    In this example “Head” refers to the person‟s body~While “heart” the person‟s

    thought~Maybe it is not much clear in the source text?howevercomparing both texts

    would help us understand that “heart” replaces the romantic story happened in Paris~Here in this translationtwo places were added to words~One is the word “上空

    which does not exist in the source text (the addition of words or phrases in the translation

    ~which is the connotation extended from the word “heart”(the text)?the other is“浪漫

    extended meaning of some key words in the source text)~Just think about the literal

    meaning “身在纽约~心在巴黎~Although neither grammatical mistakes nor misunderstanding existsthe aesthetic sense cannot be compared with the addition of“

    Which leaves their consumers much space of imagination? The last sentence acts as

    the words to clinch the pointi~e~the Rolex can accomplish the consumers ‟wish~The

    author of the ad did not miss the last chance to compliment their goods~Thereforeit can

    be concluded like thiswhen literal translation or free translation cannot be used to express the author‟s intention?or the translation could not make clear the connection with the advertised goodsthe method of addition should be tried here~Using this method

    always helps to clear the meaning of the metaphor by adding the touch to the ads or

    slogan?and the “touch” is always to show more clearly the qualities of goods


    What the deletion to be explained here is rather a kind of condensed translation~It is

    not used SO often as the method of addition~However, as a strategy of translation

    sometimes it worksespecially when the ads are not so concise~Thereforein order to

    achieve the goal and the principle of the adstranslators should condense the form of the translation text other than the meaning or connotation~

    Wherever you are~Whatever you do~The Allianz Group is always on your side. (Anlian Group) 安联集团~永远站在你身边

    The Anlian Group is one of the insurance companies in Germany~In its adthe Group

    becomes a person (THE GROUP IS A PERSONHe is so strong and powerful that gives his clients the sense of safetyand is always with them~Besides from the number of

    words of these two textswe can see clearly that the translation text achieves the principle of conciseness~Although the first part of the source text “Wherever you are~Whatever you do” was not translated but deletedit does not influence the meaning expressed by the source text~That is because meanings of the former and latter part are paralleland it would be wordy to translate literally~

    Though deletion is not often used~it is still a useful method to translate ads

    especially for the aim of conciseness~The example above is also a typical onei.e~When

    the structure and meaning of the text are both parallelit is necessary to condense them into a shorter one~It is enough to translate the core meaning of the source text~

    ?~Cultural difference and pragmatic failure in advertisement translation

     Translation can be viewed as a special cross-cultural communication activity. The link between culture and communication is crucial to the understanding of cross cultural communication since it is through the influence of culture that people learn to communicate. Culture determines how people encode messages, the meanings they have for messages, and the conditions and circumstances under which various messages may or may not be sent, noticed, or interpreted.

     Thomas first proposed the notion “pragmatic failure”, which refers to the inability to understand what is meant by what is said. In cross cultural communication people from different cultures speak the same language, but their communication may break down due to pragmatic differences in ways of thinking, rules of speaking, social values, lexical connotations and other factors. It is the same case in translation, because the inference of the translated text and original text readers may differ widely from each other due to pragmatic failure. Therefore, it is essential to further study the influence of cultural difference on translation as well as the nature and causes of pragmatic failure in order to cultivate the translator‟s pragmatic competence

    5.1. Influence of cultural difference on advertisement translation

     As we know, when people from different cultural background communicate, pragmatic differences will unavoidably occur. Likewise, in advertisement translation, cultural difference, as a crucial element in advertisement diffusion, also constrains the pragmatic translation of advertisement. Here are some cases in which cultural difference influences the success of advertisement translation:

     “Juliet, Juliet where for art thou? Tall man seeks tallish lady for company, social outings and to put a romantic spark back into a dull life. Photo appreciated, reply promised. Reply to Box DH 8561, The Scotsman Publications Ltd. , Edinburgh.-lonely Heart Ad”[6]

     At first glance, the sentence—“Juliet Juliet where for art thou?” seems to be looking

    for someone missing. However, after studying the context, the reader can find out that it is actually a lonely heart advertisement. In western culture, “Juliet” is the symbol of a

    man‟s dream lover, so it does not refer to any particular person here. For the original text readers, who may lack the relevant contextual information, no interpretation can be yielded if the first sentence is translated into 朱丽叶, 朱丽叶, 你在哪儿?

     To enable the original text readers to fully understand the pragmatic force of the advertisement, the translator should adapt the text to the context of the target readers and may translate the first sentence as我梦中的她,你在哪儿?

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