Archive for September, 2011

Does Every Word Have a Subtext?

Here is a funny video showing every word we use has a subtext. I, myself, have some difficulties in writing a message or an e-mail. For example, while writing a cover letter or just an introductory paragraph, I get stressed. Whatever I write sounds awkward to me. Even while writing these three sentences, I have deleted or edited like five sentences 🙂


Languages Are Really Alive, Here Is The Proof!


In our daily lifes, it is hard to catch the differences in languages. They change fast but we cannot recognize the changes while using. However, when we go back to 50-60 years, when we chat to elderly people – like grandma – we understand how the languages change in time. There are certain  expressions that I personally do not understand when my grandfather talks. This is ‘the old language’ 🙂 On the other hand, some phrases gets ‘demodé’. They just go out of fashion. It is not relative to the age of the users, it depends on the popularity. Today, on Forbes, there is a very good article about the change in business English. Here are the parts I like most. For the rest of the article, click the link at the bottom:

“Ever been in a meeting where you think everyone is speaking in some kind of code? Workplace lingo often abandons the normal rules of the English language in favor of wonky expressions that are not only obnoxious—they make absolutely no sense.

For starters, here are six commonly used business expressions to banish from your vocabulary forever:

Rock Star/Ninja

“We need someone smart for this project. We’re looking for a rock star.”

“She’s a real programming ninja—the best engineer we have.”

Whether you’re sitting in on an annual performance review at a consulting firm or talking to a hiring manager at a tech company, you’ll hear these absurd non-titles everywhere. But unless your co-worker has actually toured with Mötley Crüe or wields nunchucks at the office, there is no reason to call her a rock star or a ninja. Also to be avoided: guru, wizard, and god. If someone has excelled professionally, praise her for what she’s actually done—don’t rely on cutesy hyperbole.

Reach Out

“Let’s reach out to someone in accounting to get those numbers.”

“If you want to follow up, feel free to reach out to me by phone.”

Reach out to me by phone?” Seriously? How about just “call me?


 We all know what “around” means, so why does the corporate world make us forget? “Around” means surrounding, encircling, or nearby.



lthough “impactful” is not a real word, its menacing infiltration into the corporate vernacular has led to its inclusion in some defeatist dictionaries


Open the Kimono

“That project shows potential. Let’s open the kimono and learn more.”

Not only does this phrase yearn for the era of good ol’ boys, but it’s almost impossible to say without sounding totally creepy.


Out of Pocket

“Don’t try to reach me next week. I’ll be out of pocket.”

This phrase represents an epic clash between OG corporate slang and new-school nonsense. “


For the rest of the article, click here.

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How Did You Choose Your Language Pair?

In deed, I had no chance… In primary school and in high school, we were just taught English. Unfortunately I was not born in a multi-cultural family. My mother and father speak only their native language- which is sad. Last year, I went to Belgium for Erasmus and I understood how unlucky I am. It is unfair! They were born in a country which is already bilingual. They learn English in school or waching TV series – actually learning English is the easiest thing – Well, before graduating from high school, they know three languages: French, Dutch and English. They know French, so if they are interested a little, they can learn Spanish or Italian easily. They know Dutch, so if they try a little bit hard, they can speak German. When I compare this situation to Turkey, learning a new language involves extra extra effort. We speak a language completely different from other European languages. We have no link to other languages. Is not it annoying? As a result, I know English and my language pair is automatically English-Turkish. I have been studying French for 3 years but I have still a long way to go to say ‘I can translate from Turkish to French”.

So, how did you choose your second language/language pair?

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Should We Translate the Company Names?

I was translating the subtitles of the movie, ‘ The Yes Men Fix The World’. Very funny one, by the way. However, the details confused me- as usual.

In the movie, there is a chemical company. Its names is Dow Chemicals. We understand that we are not supposed to translate ‘Dow’, but what about ‘Chemicals’. I was about to translate it as ‘Dow Kimya’ (kimya means chemicals in Turkish) and I saw the name of the other chemical company, which is ‘Union Carbide’. If there was only ‘Dow Chemicals’, I would translate it right away as ‘Dow Kimya’ because it sounds perfectly normal in Turkish; however the name of the other company crossed me up 🙂 In the case of Union Carbide, both of the words have Turkish equivalents but when translated, they do not make any sense- at least for the audience who have no idea about chemical terminology.

In the end, I left the names of the companies as they are. I could have translated the first one but then the text would be inconsistent. Both or none. I chose not to translate at all. What would you do?

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Do You Want to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills?

Three years ago, I took my first Public Speaking class. We were supposed to make many presentations which last at least 10 minutes. It was like a nightmare! Talking – nonstop – prosessionally and in another language! One of our presentations was about the famous speeches. Everybody chosed a famous and an important speech in history. I chose a speech of John F. Kennedy about space research. I listened more than 20 times before attempting to memorize. I uploaded it to my mp3 player. The aim was not just memorizing all the text but giving the speech with the same emotion and intonation. You should know where to breathe, where to higher your voice, where to look in the eye of the audience. Here is a very good training programme. One of my classmates discovered this programme and he suggested it right away. If you want to improve public speaking skills, give it a try! Here is some introductory information from the website:

Unleash the Power of Your Speaking Voice with Voicing It!

The ONLY Complete Video Training for the Speaking Voice Which Will Improve Your Life…
Both Professionally and Personally

redbullet Imagine being able to command the attention of a group just by the
sound of your voice

redbullet Imagine being heard the 1st time you say it

redbullet Imagine speaking in ‘living color’

redbullet Imagine standing at the lectern and having total control over your nervousness

redbullet Imagine speaking more distinctly

Whether in conversation, in the sales presentation, on the podium, or over the phone, people are discovering their ‘real’ voice with Voicing It!. Consisting of 5 one-hour sessions, Voicing It! is an intensive voice improvement training program on video. The two DVDs plus 150-page manual cover the patented and proven techniques of the entire Voice Dynamic Approach which I have been teaching for more than 25 years. Whether you are looking to eliminate vocal abuse or nasality, breathlessness or a childlike tone, Voicing It! will show you how to find your ‘real’ voice, increase your volume without shouting and speak with color and emotion.

You will learn how to control your nervousness at the lectern, in the boardroom or in the sales conference; and, as an added bonus, Session 5 also covers those characteristics that make for dynamic public speaking.

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Advertising Translation, Part#5 – Adaptation

The adaptation approach argues that there are insurmountable cultural barriers which require the complete translation of advertisements to reach the target audience. By employing the adaptation process, MNCs frame their ads with a new culture and language.

The adaptation approach regards the words as the representatives of the culture. The most important part is to understand what lies behind those symbolic words. The use and selection of verbal and visual elements are directly related to culture which is perceived differently from nation to nation. Different perceptions require target culture-oriented ways of conveying an advertising message. Therefore, the road to advertising translation is paved with cultural stereotypes. As the definition suggests, cultural stereotypes are the products of interaction and communication. They are set of accepted behaviors and social norms. For example, in USA, a direct and explicit communication style is dominant. Americans value time and efficiency, and place emphasis on individual achievement. Thus, American ads generally aim to give detailed information about the product and they make use of verbal elements rather than visual. Moreover, such kinds of ads are generally humorous so as to capture the audience individually. On the other hand, in Japan, the communication style is generally indirect and implicit. Such an audience would like to have succinct ads. In their media habits, silences have meaning and put emphasize on symbolism.

Considering these differences, the advertising translator should be aware of the role that cultural stereotypes play.

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Advertising Translation, Part#4 – Standardization

In many cases, producing culture-specific ads or translating already existing ads involves large sums of money and a qualified work force. MNCs that do not want to invest a great deal of money in advertising translation are not in the pursuit of long term profits. Although they try to lower the costs, at the same time, they do not want to lose the attention of target audience. They highlight comprehension rather than internalization. The solution to such kind of approach is “standardization”. The motive behind this approach is that consumers share similar needs according to some cultural, economical, regional and linguistic patterns.

Using these communicational and advertising styles, MNCs try to standardize the ads by modifying the original one. This approach takes advantage of the similarities between cultures. They generally use the original ad print or video after translating the slogans and, in some cases, the brand names. The brand names are often kept in its original form to create a strong image. However, in some cases, keeping the original brand names can be hazardous since the pronunciations of them differ from language to language. For example, in China, the name Coca-Cola was first rendered as ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately, it was too late when the coke company discovered what the phrase exactly means: female horse stuffed with wax. After this mistake, Coca-Cola researched 40000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent: ko-kou-ko-le. This phrase can be loosely translated as happiness in the mouth (lingo72). This example shows how the phonetic knowledge and cultural awareness of the translator is important. The advertising campaigns ignoring culture and language can result in serious mistakes.

Translating the slogans, the translator should have a control over the language of target audience. The successful translation or standardization of slogans enhances the memorability and the impact of ad campaign. However, a number of MNCs prefer to keep the original brand name and slogan. For example, Adidas, Nike and Nokia use the same slogans under their brand names ignoring the target audience’s comprehension. On the other hand, L’Oréal standardizes its slogan in every language which is originally “L’Oréal, Parce que vous le valez bien”. It is translated into Turkish and English without any interpretation, which means the standardization approach is employed effectively. Considering the L’Oréal example, it may seem that that approach promotes the global image of the product and brand. Nevertheless, it is not the case for most of other slogans. When the advertising companies take advantage of the sound system to simplify memory recall, it gets harder to standardize the same slogan for each target audience. Examples include “If anyone can, Canon can” and “O2, see what you can do” (t, sf189).In both examples, the standardization approach falls short of having the intended memory recall effect on target audience. When standardized (translated literally like L’Oréal example), the slogans lose their alliterations.

Advertising translation part#1

Advertising translation part#2

Advertising translation part#3

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Advertising Translation Part#3 – Globalization

The global approach assumes that every human being has more or less the same needs, beliefs and aspirations. Rather than cultural barriers, similarities between cultures are highlighted. MNCs favoring this approach take the target audience as homogeneous and use the same advertisement in every country. “With the convergence of national wealth, technology and emerging global media, consumer wants and needs are homogenized” (Ted Levitt, 1983). For example, Nokia has a global approach in Turkish market. The ads of this corporation are generally used unchanged. There is not a sign of translational activity in many of its ads which were shown on Turkish TV channels or in movies. The one titled “Music gets you talking” has a long and loaded text; however, it was shown in movie breaks in English. Although some ads may reach their target when used unchanged, the ads containing linguistic features may fail to convey their messages. Titled “Harmony”, another ad by Nokia conveys its message as planned even if a global approach is employed.

The avoidance of linguistic elements makes this ad comprehensible by Turkish audience. Van Mesdag argues the impractical nature of employing the global approach in marketing and advertising translation:

“However, the number of products allowing for a pure global marketing strategy is very limited, if not non-existing. Since countries differ in culture, language, government regulations, topography, distribution and retail structure, adaptation or standardization of at least some elements of the marketing mix is usually required”

Advertising Translation Part #2

Before explaining the different ways of conveying the advertising messages, it is important to understand the link between translation and advertising.

Culture stands at the intersection of translation and advertising. In both cases, the target culture should be taken into consideration. To begin with translation, ignoring the cultural differences between the target text and the source text results in mechanical translation, which means translating word for word. The final translation conveys either missing or distorted messages. The fact that every culture has its own way of interpreting the messages, the translator should serve as a filter between target and source texts, that is to say between cultures. Similarly, in the advertising industry, the culture of the target audience is one of the most important issues to consider. Especially in international advertising, the values, beliefs and traditions are the key factors that MNCs have to go over to reach the target audience. The ideas, acts and emotions are cultural products. All the individuals are under the guidance of cultural patterns, historically-created systems of meaning. Advertising reflects these wider systems of meaning. All manifestations of culture are reflected in advertising (De Mooij 1998:43). Without discerning the differences, the advertising campaign may turn into a failure, which means the waste of money and time.

Katharina Reiss has established the first concrete link between translation and advertising. As Adap and Valdes suggest:

“Reiss included advertisements in the group of operative texts of a persuasive nature and assigned them an ‘adaptive’ mode of translation, tailored to the needs and conventions of the receptors of the target text” (2004:171).

She divided the texts into three main categories with respect to their characteristics: informative texts, expressive texts and operative texts. The informative texts, as the name suggests, aim giving information by using a functional language. In expressive texts, the idea and emotions are conveyed within the framework of art and literature. Advertisements and advertising texts fall under the category of operative texts.

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