Advertising is a language in itself and, as such, translating advertising materials is different to any other kind of translation. It even has its own word: “transcreation”.
As transcreation suggests, translating advertising is as much about creation as it is about conveying the meaning in the source text. This is because advertising is often full of wordplays and nuances that simply cannot be translated from language A to language B.
The difficulty in translating advertising slogans can be seen in the fact that many multinationals don’t bother: Audi uses the tagline “Vorsprung durch Technik” in its adverts in Britain; Honda uses “The Power of Dreams” in its adverts in Germany; Nike sticks with “Just Do It” across the globe.
Yet it is often necessary to translate slogans, headlines and taglines into English; not least, because many international customers don’t speak German. In some cases, a literal translation works, but in many others, the English version of the slogan or headline may be completely different.
As with all translation, the main objective of transcreation is always to convey the meaning and tone of the source text. Often, this can be achieved by rewriting the sentence in the target language.
When it comes to translating advertising slogans and headlines, rewriting the slogan or headline is often not enough. Wordplays generally don’t translate; instead the translator needs to find a catchy slogan or headline in the target language that retains the message and tone from the source text, without necessarily saying the same thing.
Thus, a slogan in a leaflet about Ben&Jerry’s coffee “Kaffee, dein Liebling ist fertig!” could be translated as “Wake up and taste the coffee!”. Two wordplays that don’t translate literally, but that make excellent transcreations.
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