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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