The Application of Aesthetic Rhetoric to Chinese-English Advertisement Translation

By Diana Gardner,2014-06-28 16:40
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The Application of Aesthetic Rhetoric to Chinese-English Advertisement Translation



    Introduction ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1

    1. A General Review of Advertisement ------------------------------------------------------------ 2 1.1 Definition of Advertisement --------------------------------------------------------------- 2 1.2 Functions and Requirements of Advertisement ----------------------------------------- 3 1.3 Features of Advertising English ----------------------------------------------------------- 3 1.4 Transcultural Advertisement --------------------------------------------------------------- 4

    2. An Introduction to Aesthetic Rhetoric ---------------------------------------------------------- 5 2.1 Concept of Rhetoric and Aesthetic Rhetoric --------------------------------------------- 5 2.2 Significance and Requirements of Aesthetic Rhetoric ---------------------------------- 6

    2.2.1 Significance of Studying Aesthetic Rhetoric ------------------------------------- 6

    2.2.2 Requirements of Rhetoric ---------------------------------------------------------- 7 2.3 The Relationship between Aesthetic Rhetoric and Advertisement -------------------- 7

    3. The Art of Aesthetic Rhetoric in English Advertisement ------------------------------------- 8 3.1 The Phonetic Rhetorical Devices --------------------------------------------------------- 8

    3.1.1 Alliteration --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 8

    3.1.2 Rhyme -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 9 3.2 The Lexical Rhetorical Devices ----------------------------------------------------------- 9

    3.2.1 Metaphor ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 9

    3.2.2 Personification ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 10

    3.2.3 Pun ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10

    3.2.4 Parody ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11 3.3 The Syntactical Rhetorical Devices ------------------------------------------------------ 11

    3.3.1 Repetition---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11

    3.3.2 Parallelism --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12

    4. The Application of Aesthetic Rhetoric to Chinese-English Advertisement Translation -- 12 4.1 Difficulties in C-E Advertisement translation ------------------------------------------ 12

    4.1.1 Differences in Characters and Words--------------------------------------------- 12

    4.1.2 Differences in Rhetoric ------------------------------------------------------------ 12 4.2 Principles of C-E Advertisement Translation ------------------------------------------- 13


    The Application of Aesthetic Rhetoric to Chinese-English Advertisement Translation

    4.2.1 Familiarity with the Product------------------------------------------------------- 13

    4.2.2 Flexibility in Style ------------------------------------------------------------------ 13

    4.2.3 Naturalness in Translation --------------------------------------------------------- 14

    4.3 Practice of Aesthetic Rhetorical Devices in C-E Advertisement Translation ------- 14

    4.3.1 Practice of Alliteration in Translation -------------------------------------------- 14

    4.3.2 Practice of Metaphor in Translation ---------------------------------------------- 15

    4.3.3 Practice of Personification in Translation ---------------------------------------- 16

    4.3.4 Practice of Pun in Translation ----------------------------------------------------- 16

    4.3.5 Practice of Parody in Translation ------------------------------------------------- 17

    4.3.6 Practice of Parallelism in Translation -------------------------------------------- 17 Conclusion ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 18 Bibliography ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 19 Acknowledgement ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 20




     In the modern commercialized society, the efficiency of production has made advertisement, which is a demand stimulation tool, essential. Urbanization, transportation expansion and

    communication advancements have all facilitated the use and growth of advertisement. We are surrounded by advertisements, whenever we open a newspaper or magazine, turn on the TV or radio, surf on the Internet, or look at the billboards on the streets. Advertisement has become an integral part of our daily life.

     Rhetorical devices play a significant role in writing a successful advertisement. Rhetoric is an art of using language effectively. It has aroused general concern for a long time. Between communicative rhetoric and aesthetic rhetoric, the two main divisions of rhetoric, the aesthetic rhetoric is the most common and effective and it is also generally known as figures of speech. Aesthetic rhetorical devices are broadly used in advertisements and make advertising language more vivid and attractive.

     With the policy of reform and opening up and the entrance into WTO, China has made rapid progress in economy, which has attracted more and more foreign investment in China. Foreign products, together with their advertisements, join the keen competition in domestic market. And meanwhile, there has been more and more opportunities for China's commodities, services and brands going into international markets as well. Advertisement, as the most potent way to advertise the products and images of enterprises in order to intrigue customers, is playing a crucial role in China's global economic ambition. However, the Chinese enterprises fail to coin creative, appealing and effective English advertisements to absorb foreign capital and promote sales in foreign markets due to translation difficulties and shortage of creativity and imagination.

     Consequently, How to make an advertisement successful and how to translate a Chinese advertisement perfectly into English have become the issues of practical significance. The translation of aesthetic rhetoric in advertisements is yet a field to be explored and researched for its theoretical, practical and economic significance. The translation principles and approaches of aesthetic rhetoric in advertisements contribute to the development of translation theories. An appropriate translation makes the consumers understand the information the advertisement conveys and stimulates their desire for consumption. Successfully written and translated advertisements will bring more benefits to the growth of China's multinational


    The Application of Aesthetic Rhetoric to Chinese-English Advertisement Translation enterprises and national economy in the long run.

     This study concentrates on aesthetic rhetoric and its application to Chinese-English advertisement translation. Part One serves as an introduction to the features, functions and requirements of advertisement. Furthermore, problems arising from transcultural advertising are demonstrated. Part Two is devoted to the study of aesthetic rhetoric in general and its relationship with English advertisement. In Part Three, the author explores the characteristics and aesthetic effects of the aesthetic rhetorical devices in advertisement at phonetic, lexical and syntactical levels. In Part Four, the author introduces the requirements, principles and practical difficulties of Chinese-English advertisement translation, and then offers a discussion of the application of aesthetic rhetorical devices to Chinese-English advertisement translation based on abundant examples of translation practices.

    1. A General Review of Advertisement

    1.1 Definition of Advertisement

     The term "Advertisement" and "Advertising" have, at their root, a Latin word "advertere" meaning "turn towards"(Duanmu Yiwan, 2001). So advertisement is born to be a communication tool with the aim of reaching its intended audience. In the New Oxford

    Dictionary of English, the definition for advertisement is "a notice or announcement in a public medium promoting a product, service or event or publicizing a job vacancy", while it is termed as "a form of commercial mass communication designed to promote the sale of a product or service, or a message on behalf of an institution, organization, or candidate for political office" in Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2004. Both of the two definitions of

    advertisement mention "a public medium" or "mass communication". Strictly speaking, advertisement is not a mass medium, but it relies on media to communicate its messages. Both definitions emphasize "promoting a product, service, etc", but advertisement nowadays has already passed the frontier of the selling of goods and services and has become involved with the reaching of social and personal values.

     Advertisement takes various forms, i.e. it communicates through mass medium such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, outdoor displays, mass transit vehicles or Internet. Since advertisements are a complex, all encompassing art form, textual, audio, visual materials are invariably used. Although advertisements originally were dominated by textual materials, written advertisements increasingly have to compete with each other and



    with all sorts of other materials including picture, sound, and video in our richly civilized culture. And in this study we merely look at advertisements from the textual point of view.

    1.2 Functions and Requirements of Advertisement

     Advertisement is, by nature, a persuasion which is directed at large groups of people by means of media. The aim of advertisement is to "capture the attention of the mass audience by means of a short message and to persuade them to buy the products"(O'Donnell, etal., 1980). On one hand, as a marketing tool, advertisement is one of the vehicles employed by businesses to convey its sales intent and consumption concept to consumers. On the other hand, advertisement may help the business to know competitors' products, thus enabling companies to, as the Chinese proverb goes, "know themselves and their enemies, and then fight a hundred battles without defeat."

     Therefore, a successful advertisement must obey the rules of the "AIDMA" which is Attention, Interest, Desire, Memory, and Action.

     Attention: This is the easiest step. Through repetition and other advertising techniques, consumers can be made aware that a product exists.

     Interest: The second step is indeed an increase in consumers' desire to learn about some of the features of the product. The advertisement may easily lose potential consumers if it fails to keep their attention, for people's attention is continually shifting.

     Desire: A successful advertisement should convince the consumer of some important attributes of the products and the advantages of making a purchase. In this way, the desire to obtain the products may well up in his mind.

     Memory: After stimulating consumers' desire, an advertisement should serve to be kept in mind and appreciated as a piece of art. This step finally results in consumers' unhesitating purchasing action.

     Action: All the preceding four steps pave the way for the last step, which is the sole and final purpose of any commercial advertisement. In general, the customer may accept such product through a favorable experience of the first trial(Tanahashi, 2007). 1.3 Features of Advertising English

     There has been a growing interest in the language of advertisement. The aim of advertisement is to draw attention of the consumers to a product or service in order to promote sales. However, the advertiser has only limited amount of space or time. On the one hand, this


    The Application of Aesthetic Rhetoric to Chinese-English Advertisement Translation limitation in time and space is a consequence of the fact that advertising is expensive. On the other hand, since people are exposed to an enormous amount of commercial messages, an advertiser must try to have his advertisement noticed among numerous other advertisements and create a maximally effective impact during the brief time span. Advertisers begin to pay attention to the effective and strategic use of language.

     In adverting language, both elements, psychological and linguistic, are essential: they are combined to produce a single "brand image" of a product. Of course, in order to make the advertisement work, they must use our commonly shared resources of language in the ways that affect us and mean something to us.

     The features of the advertising language have already caught the attention of the linguists and advertisement copywriters. Generally speaking, the language is laudatory, positive, unreserved and emphasizing the uniqueness of a product. The vocabulary tends to be vivid and concrete. It is not uncommon for copywriters to resort to different rhetorical devices and so on. Thus we can know that language plays a very important role in advertisement.

     The language of advertising (of course, here it refers to advertising English) has become a very distinctive register. There has been a growing interest in this specific register or variety of English lately. On the one hand, advertisement writers want to fully know the potential power of language in order to achieve their advertising purposes. On the other hand, linguists expect to learn more about the English language, especially the changes and development of it by investigating advertising English in that advertising has developed over time to use language in a most creative, and some may argue, unethical way.

    1.4 Transcultural Advertisement

     With globalization of the world economy, the evolution of advertising from the home

    country to a foreign country, to regional blocs or to a worldwide audience, the first problem a producer will encounter when introducing his products to overseas markets might be culture shock. In this case, the local residents are likely to misunderstand the content of advertisement and the promotion purpose of producers, because consumers of different nations and regions may have different responses to the same advertisement due to discrepancies in custom, religion and national characteristic. An advertisement may be welcomed by consumers in one area, but rejected in another.



     A well-known example of the problem is the name of the Chevrolet Nova automobile. In English "Nova" is a star of sudden brightness, but in Spanish means "It doesn't go." No wonder the car did not sell well in Spanish-speaking countries. Similarly, Ford Automobile Company once tried to promote its "Comet Caliente Model" to the Mexican market, only to find a poor sale in Mexico. The problem lies in that "Caliente" in Mexican slang refers to streetwalkers(Antonio, 2001). Advertisements in any language often involve play on words, slang and themes that are relevant to one country. Unintentional meanings, slang and national style must be deleted from the advertisement unless the meaning or intent can be recreated in other languages.

     In sum, cultures are dissimilar, but they are not superior or inferior than one another. Cultural characteristics of a people should be taken into account in relative terms and in comparison with others. So, the study of advertisement must be greatly associated with the study of culture, and transcultural advertising copywriters are supposed to respect the language of target consumers and the culture it carries and reflects.

    2. An Introduction to Aesthetic Rhetoric

    2.1 Concept of Rhetoric and Aesthetic Rhetoric

     What is rhetoric is a controversial issue that provokes various answers. According to Aristotle, "Rhetoric may then be defined as the faculty of discovering all the possible means of persuasion in reference to any subject whatsoever."(Winterowd, 1965). Another interpretation comes from John Locke, English philosopher of the late 17th century. He considered rhetoric as "the science of oratory," or "the art of speaking with propriety, elegance, and force"(Huang Ren, 1999). In The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, rhetoric is defined as "the art of speaking or

    writing effectively"

     From the above review of various concepts of rhetoric, we may carry the definition of rhetoric one step further on the basis of the one by Aristotle: rhetoric, in nature, is the art of discovering all the available means of enabling people to understand and agree both intellectually and emotionally. By this definition, advertisement is largely rhetorical for its purpose to convey particular information of subject.

     English rhetoric can be subdivided into two basic categories: communicative rhetoric and aesthetic rhetoric. Chen Wangdao, a well- known Chinese rhetorician, regards the former as negative rhetoric, and the latter positive rhetoric(Chen Wangdao, 1979). Communicative


    The Application of Aesthetic Rhetoric to Chinese-English Advertisement Translation rhetoric coincides with all linguistic devices such as the choice of words, sentence patterns, paragraph organization and whole pieces of writing so that thoughts or ideas can be expressed in the most accurate and appropriate way. In advertising language, the most typical features such as frequent use of adjectives and adverbs, neologisms, long noun phrases, imperative sentences and present tense fall into this category. On the other hand, aesthetic rhetoric lays special stress on artistic approaches, seeking ways of achieving the effect of vividness and elegance in expressing ideas. From this point of view, frequently used figures of speech like alliteration, rhyme, metaphor, personification, pun, parody hyperbole, parallelism, rhetorical question, repetition in advertisement meet the requirements. As for the employment of rhetorical devices, aesthetic rhetorical devices are most commonly seen in English advertisements and they contribute a lot to persuading the target audience as well. Accordingly, the author makes efforts to give an analysis of aesthetic rhetoric in advertising language to see significant effect aesthetic rhetorical have for achieving the heart of advertising persuasion. 2.2 Significance and Requirements of Aesthetic Rhetoric

    2.2.1 Significance of Studying Aesthetic Rhetoric

     Studying rhetoric, especially aesthetic rhetoric, can be of great significance due to its usefulness, popularity, and effectiveness.

     First of all, it improves the use of language for communication. We learn a language for the purpose of effective communication which is inevitably connected with rhetoric. We cannot express our ideas appropriately and say exactly what we mean unless we have a good mastery of rhetoric.

     Besides, it improves appreciation of works. Great literary works have owed something to those scholars who have used the rhetorical devices in writing like Emerson, or Shakespeare. While reading the original, everyone is wondering how closely the rhetoric is woven into the texture of English. If we had a good knowledge of rhetoric, we would be able to acquire a better appreciation of these works.

     Last but not the least, it improves the quality of translation. Essentially, translation should faithfully represent what is written or said in the source language, which demands a fine comprehension of the original language, and a good command of the target language. If translators acquire a good knowledge of rhetoric, they can make use of the techniques incisively and vividly, thus producing a high-quality translation.



    2.2.2 Requirements of Rhetoric

     The central concern of rhetoric is how to find out the most effective way to express a

    thought in a given situation, and then how to change its expression to suit various situations. In

    this sense, rhetoric is quite practical. Consequently, the following requirements for rhetoric

    must be met.

     First, appropriateness. Rhetorical language ought to suit the communication occasion. In particular, the words and sentence patterns one chooses should be consistent with one's age, profession, position and education. On the other hand, when employing such rhetorical devices, the speaker or the writer should always take the reader's background into consideration.

     Second, clarity. In fact, clarity is the primary concern of grammar. Whether we speak or write, our aim is to have our hearers or readers understand us without much effort. If the chosen words or sentences fail to make their meaning clear, which may result in ambiguity and misunderstanding, how can we get ourselves across expressively and eloquently?

     Third, effectiveness. Effectiveness, maybe the ultimate goal of rhetoric, must be predicated on the above two requirements. Thus, one can employ all the best possible means to convey his or her thought with persuasiveness and artistic appeal and to effectively achieve the objective of communication(Hu Shuzhong, 2004).

    2.3 The Relationship between Aesthetic Rhetoric and Advertisement

     First, both aesthetic rhetoric and advertisement aim at persuasion. As demonstrated in Part One, the widely used AIDMA rules in advertising indicates that first, advertisement should attract the reader's attention and stimulate his interest, then arouse the reader's desire for purchase, and at the same time, bestow the product with memory value and finally urge the reader to take action. So in nature, persuading readers to take action is the ultimate objective of advertisement. Similarly, rhetoricians believe that any proposition can be expressed in various ways, and that in any given situation one of these ways will be the most effective in swaying an audience. Therefore, persuasion is the overriding goal of aesthetic rhetoric.

     Another reason connecting aesthetic rhetoric with advertisement lies in that both of them have the capability to be creative, for rhetorical devices should be compatible with various contexts. It is such changeability that leads to creativity in the employment of rhetorical devices. If an idea or expression remains unchanged and is overused, it will lose much of its


    The Application of Aesthetic Rhetoric to Chinese-English Advertisement Translation expressive force, only to become a cliché. Likewise, if an advertisement lack creativity, then the customers will feel bored and certainly turn a blind eye to the advertisement as well as the products it supports. Thus, advertisement copywriters are supposed to exert themselves to adopt aesthetic rhetorical devices with originality and creativity, which can breathe new life into advertisements and be favorable for attracting and persuading people effectively.

    3. The Art of Aesthetic Rhetoric in English Advertisement

     Although advertisers have resorted to a variety of techniques-audio and visual, sound and light, display and acting, photographs and drawing, to obtain consumers' attention, motivate their interests and urge them to make a purchase, language still remains the most important and sufficient tool to realize the above goal. Advertising language holds its own particular and striking characteristic style in addition to the common language core. It aims not only to deliver information, but also to convey emotion, through which outstanding advertisements usually achieve their persuasive function. Recognizing that a major goal of advertising is not only to inform, but also to persuade, it is not surprising that advertisement is sprinkled with rhetorical devices. In this Part, rhetorical devices used in advertisement will be analyzed at the phonetic, lexical and syntactical levels.

    3.1 The Phonetic Rhetorical Devices

     Phonetic rhetorical Devices generally include alliteration and rhyme. They have more to do with sound than the sense of words, making use of phonology to achieve musical effects and vividness. Accordingly, expressions using phonological rhetoric figures are either rhythmic or true to life in reading.

    3.1.1 Alliteration

     Alliteration means "the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables" in The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Sentences with

    alliteration are rhymed in sound for the purpose of musical effect as well as emphasis. It is worth noting, however, that sometimes the writer has to sacrifice the exactness in word meaning.

     Sensuously smooth. Mysteriously mellow. Gloriously golden. Who can resist the magic of Camus XO Cognac(Higgins, 1986)?


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