Translation Practices in International Advertising

Globalization, which is the current buzzword in discussions about the economy, has also affected the world of translation. With the media revolution and its string of intangible exchanges, the translator suddenly found himself involved in every aspect of intercultural communication. Wherever the local language is an influential parameter, he is called in as a decoder and mediator, sometimes even as a negotiator. Advertising, be it written or audiovisual, is now one of the areas of activity that most often makes use of the services of specialized translators.

The media are more and more varied: the press, the radio, television, and the Internet. The multinational advertising agencies, the cross-border television networks, and the success achieved by multilingual publications have contributed to the expansion of this phenomenon. For all of them depend, for their own survival, on the manna of advertising.

Mathieu Guidère, Ph.D.

You just have to watch the satellite broadcast television channels for a day to see the same campaigns shown in several languages. In the same way, consulting various weekly or monthly editions of the same magazine enables you to come across the same translated advertisements again and again. All these media provide an extraordinary amount of advertisements and rich material for the study of advertising translations.

In short, advertising translation finds itself caught in a body of parameters, the stakes of which transcend the limits of the language. These parameters are of a pragmatic and immediate nature: the problems raised by advertising translation, both at the economic and linguistic level, originate from a concern for short-term commercial achievement and long-term staying power. The responsibility for achieving of these goals, both legitimate and paradoxical, is assigned to the translator. He must have some knowledge having to do with a real communicative skill of an interdisciplinary nature. To accomplish his mission successfully, the translator is required to think and to integrate a certain amount of data, not only about marketing and basic communication, but also about geopolitics and ethnology.


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