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3 Things Translators Use For Slogans & Taglines

Normal translations are focused on lengthy, substantial portions of content that are being converted over from one language to another for just one purpose; comprehension. Because of that, translators can use any and all tools available to them to ensure that a sentence, paragraph, or entire article is clearly communicated to speakers or readers of another language. As long as what is said is understood by the audience, the exact nuance of the translation is unimportant.

Things change, however, when the focus changes to marketing and advertising. Branding, slogans and taglines are all carefully calculated for maximum effect in the original language. Clients are interested in maintaining the integrity of that market research as much possible.

Because of that, when it comes to translating advertising slogans and taglines, translators have to keep a few things in mind before simply converting a phrase over.

Message Intent

Slogan or tagline is not just a statement in and of itself, it is designed to represent the feeling or attitude a brand and its owners want to convey to the audience.

Slogan or tagline is not just a statement in and of itself, it is designed to represent the feeling or attitude a brand and its owners want to convey to the audience. For example, in 2003, McDonalds launched a massive global campaign, with the slogan for this campaign being the German words, “Ich Liebe Es.” The original advertising concept came from German advertising agency, so the first task was to take this phrase, which, literally, meant, “I love it,” and bring it to the many different languages and cultures around the world, including the sizable English audience.

Market Differences

While “Ich liebe es,” or “I love it,” is perfectly acceptable and understandable in English, for the purposes of advertising, especially in America, where marketing tends to be less straightforward and rely on flamboyancy, a literal translation would be insufficient. “I’m lovin’ it,” became the English version of the original German slogan, and was made deliberately less formal, with a slight grammatical change to reflect a more active perception of the phrase.

This nuance in translation made the English version more suited to the casual, middle class audience of American consumers that viewed the less formal use of language as more approachable. It’s an important distinction to make that a literal, word for word translation may be comprehensible, but “tweaking” may be required to focus on a specific demographic or emotional effect.

Language & Cultural Considerations

“I’m lovin’ it,” experienced yet another change when it was brought over to French, with the phrase translating to “C’est tout ce que j’aime,” which, literally translated into English, means “All that I love.” The literal translation of the German and English would have been “J’adore ca,” but this was deemed unsuitable, even though it was grammatically accurate, because the word for word translation didn’t convey the same level of enthusiasm the company wanted. “J’aime,” though not as grammatically accurate, presented a higher level of enthusiasm and excitement, and a longer sentence played out better in the advertising for French consumers.

So in many ways, taking a short, simple phrase in one language can be challenging to accurately preserve in others.

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