In this article I would like to examine one of the most difficult types of translation, namely the translation of advertising texts. Why one of the most difficult? Because it's not enough to master the source language for translating an advertising. Even if you can easily translate knotty technical instructions, it's doesn’t guarantee that you will accurately render an advertising article into another language. The translator must be able to think creatively, and it is not so easy to learn. In addition, the purpose of the advertising translation is not just to transfer the meaning of words, but also to attract potential customers. No other text does attempt such a task.
Copyright © ProZ.com, 1999-2017. All rights reserved.
So what is the best strategy for translating advertising texts? It's hard to give a definite answer, but it should be noted that the literal translation is rarely used, because it's not the form, but the imagery that counts in advertising. Unfortunately bad translations are still quite frequent, but in fact the success of a company largely depends on advertising.
Most often we use the method of approximate translation while translating advertisements and slogans, because it is important to take into account national and cultural characteristics of the audience.
In some cases, a slogan may be left without translation when it is necessary to emphasize its foreign origin and, therefore, the quality of the product. For example: the slogans «Volkswagen. Das Auto» and «Nike. Just do it» were not translated into Russian.
Of course, this method cannot be used for translating long slogans, but just very concise and laconic ones which should be understood by most of the audience.
Very often advertising slogans contain rhyme, and it is pretty hard to translate them in verse form while preserving the meaning.
As of the translation of advertising texts themselves, it is not an easy task as well. But here, at least, you can pick out some characteristics of advertising:
• use of numerous verbs in the imperative mood (buy, see, taste, try, enjoy, feel, discover);
• a large number of emotive adjectives and adverbs (best, fantastic, super, hyper, fabulous);
• appeal to the buyer;
• use of various stylistic techniques, such as metaphors, similes, adjectives rhyme, etc.
We can take for example a passage of the advertising text from Mary Kay official website:
Bring out your star qualities.
Discover a whole new dimension lip color now. Dangerously smooth. Delightfully tempting.
Love your skin for life.
Each sentence contains expressive speech amplifiers that attract the attention of the audience.
So when choosing the translation method you should take into account many factors such as the audience (if it's necessary to localize the text) or the purpose of advertising. If you need to focus on imported goods, you can leave some words or even sentences without translation. If you want to induce positive emotions, you should use more emotive words.
In any case the translation of advertising texts is a creative process, and sometimes you can think for weeks about a slogan.
A sure way to understand whether you translated the advertising successfully or not is to read it yourself, or better to give the translation to your friends without mentioning who were the translator, and ask them whether they want to buy the advertised product. Their response will be the evidence of the translation quality.