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Advertising translation has become a commonly observed practice in the contemporary economic environment. The globalization trends and international trade processes enhance the need for corporations to launch international advertising campaigns to reach as many consumers worldwide as possible. The success of translation predetermines the success of the overall global marketing strategy, which is why the methods for improvement of translation practices are required. In particular, China is occupying a more prominent place in the international economy, which justifies the increase in the number of English-Chinese advertising translations. The proposed research study aims at analyzing the effectiveness of the application of translation and communication theories to English-Chinese translation of commercial advertising texts. The proposal contains a research background, theoretical approach discussion and justification, methodology, and anticipated outcomes.
Under the influence of globalization trends, international markets and global economies gain more relevance each day. Therefore, companies must adapt their advertising campaigns to the requirements of the time and economic forces by translating advertising to reach more customers on an international level. Since language and text are essential advertising message carriers, it is vital to apply relevant translating approaches to generate a successful advertising message in a different language (Li, 2017). The majority of current research on the topic primarily investigates linguistic theories’ impact on translation (Fan, 2017). The language constructs, tone, and word choice have been appropriately researched, providing enough evidence on the mechanics of advertising translation (Zheng, 2018). However, there is little research on the impact of communication and translation theories’ influence on the translation of advertising texts in particular. Indeed, many researchers investigate the emotional coloring of advertising texts and their marketing effect on the international level (Bao, 2019). To contribute to the identified gap in academic research of the intersection of the communicational and linguistic features of advertising translation, the proposed research aims at analyzing the impact of translation theories and communication theories on successful advertisement translation.
Despite the lack of specific narrow studies directed at theory analysis in the translation of advertising texts, there is much evidence on the intercultural challenges in the process of commercial translation. In particular, the differences between the source culture and target culture have been addressed in the study by Bao (2019), who applied sociocultural constructs to the contextualization of the translated text of advertisements. In addition, cross-cultural environment analysis has been analyzed with the aim of illustrating how the translation of advertisement embodies not only linguistic patterns but also “consumption concepts and cultural customs among different countries” (Chang, 2020, p. 226). The findings of the currently existing research in the field of advertising translation might be a valuable contribution to the background of the proposed research since it introduces the tendencies in translation practices and the challenges they encounter.
English-Chinese advertisement translation will be taken into consideration since China actively engages in international trade and business. Indeed, the participation of the Chinese economy in global economic exchange necessitates continuous translating of advertisements from English into Chinese and from Chinese into English. The cultural differences between the East and the West imply the differences between the perception of the texts by the prospective consumers, which predetermines the overall success of the translation (Qin, 2017). The proposed research will expand the evidential basis of English-Chinese advertising translations with the aim of finding opportunities for practice improvement by applying specific theories.
The positivist approach will be used to justify the favorable effects of translation theories and communication theories on advertisement translation. The positivist paradigm allows for assuming that “true knowledge can be obtained through observation and experiment” (Rahi, 2017, p. 1). It commonly allows for investigating a phenomenon from an empirical or scientific perspective. When placed in the context of the proposed research, positivism will contribute to the search for positive effects of translation and communication theories on the successful translation of advertising texts from one language to another. Since the translated text might be assumed as a stable element of a realistic world, the positivist approach relevantly applies and provides an opportunity for in-depth analysis of the qualities of the translated text. As a theory verification approach, positivism will be used to test how the application of theories of translation and theories of communication can help improve advertising translation.
The pragmatic approach will be applied to identify what theories provide the most benefits for successful translation. The pragmatic paradigm is applied to identify the weaknesses in currently applied methods and implemented practices for further development of improved techniques (Rahi, 2017). Within the framework of the proposed research study, the pragmatic theoretical approach will allow for critical analysis of the translation practices used by the translators interpreting advertising texts with the aim of detecting the problematic issues. Ultimately, this paradigm will allow for selecting the best applicable theory or a combination of theories capable of eliminating the detected weakness for improvement purposes.
It is worth noting that the pragmatic theoretical approach justifies the utilization of mixed methods, namely quantitative and qualitative ones, to ensure the multifaceted characteristics of data under analysis (Rahi, 2017). Indeed, as a pluralistic and problem-centered paradigm, the pragmatic approach validates critical assessment and encourages investigation of the issue at hand from different angles. Moreover, according to Rahi (2017), pragmatism prioritizes “consequences of actions” and is “real-world practice-oriented,” which validates the applicability of this approach to the advertising translation practices (p. 2). Therefore, the utilization of the pragmatic approach as a possible framework for the proposed research study will allow for obtaining a vast amount of data by means of mixed methods and detecting the most effective solutions for successful advertising translation. In particular, discourse analysis and comparative content analysis conducted within this theoretical approach will allow for obtaining the desired results.
Justification of the Theoretical Approaches
The utilization of the positivist approach is justified by the ability of this paradigm to unfold the prospective advantages of the theories of translation and communication, which is the subject of the planned research. The assumption that adequate knowledge is available on the topic will facilitate the research process. Moreover, the empirical direction of the approach will help obtain objective data for unbiased analysis of the content. The pragmatic approach is validated by the necessity to detect what theory contributes the most to successful translation in order to identify which translation approach is capable of solving the translation challenges in advertising. Since the problem under investigation is a complex and multifaceted one, incorporating cultural, social, linguistic, and economic factors, the application of mixed methods, which are facilitated by pragmatism, will contribute to the validity, objectivity, and reliability of findings.
Epistemological Considerations and Researcher Positionality
The utilization of both deductive and inductive methods is validated by the necessity of applying a competent analysis of the content of translated text within the sociocultural context and the intended marketing impact on consumers. The inductive method will allow for collecting data via observation, and the deductive approach will help explain the application of the theory/assumption by means of observation (Rahi, 2017). In particular, the deductive approach will allow for testing whether the assumption that the application of communication and translation theories to translation helps make the advertising translations successful is true. The researcher’s personal interest and some background in translation studies will facilitate the process of selecting advertising campaigns subject to translation. Overall, the researcher’s background in mixed-method application will help in conducting the study.
Research Questions, Aims, and Objectives
General research question: How can translation theories and communication theories contribute to successful advertisement translation?
Specific research question 1: What defines a successful English-Chinese advertisement translation?
Specific research question 2: How do translation theories impact advertisement translation success?
Specific research question 3: How do communication theories impact advertisement translation success?
Aim: To analyze the effectiveness of the application of translation and communication theories to English-Chinese translation of commercial advertising texts.
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- To select and determine the level of success of at least three advertising campaigns that have been translated either from English to Chinese or from Chinese into English.
- To identify the challenges in translating advertisements on the background of marketing goals pursued by international companies.
- To conduct an analysis of the effects of translation theories on advertisement translation success.
- To conduct an analysis of the effects of communication theories on advertisement translation success.
Several methods are proposed to conduct a reliable and competent study capable of meeting the outlined aims and objectives. Firstly, the method of a case study might be conducted on an advertising campaign that has been translated from English into Chinese. To ensure the validity of the results, an advertising campaign that has been presented in China and the West will be selected for the case study. The application of translation and communication theories will be conducted to identify their presence and effects. Overall, the quality of the translation will be evaluated to identify the success of the translation efforts. The success-related outcomes will be contextualized according to the presence of translation and communication theories to make relevant conclusions.
Secondly, a comparative content analysis of several translated advertising campaigns with the investigation of translation and communication theories will be initiated. This method will allow for obtaining a big picture and a more extensive body of data due to the analysis of multiple advertising campaigns launched by different companies. This method will use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis approaches to collect quantitative characteristics as per the indicators of translation success (according to marketing characteristics and consumer response). In addition, the comparison of the content of different campaigns will allow for retrieving qualitative data on the effects of translation theories and communication theories on the translated text and its quality.
Thirdly, discourse analysis will be applied to analyze the translated texts of advertisements on the background of the socio-cultural and economic environment. The in-depth analysis of the content, choice of devices, and accurate discussion of the implementation of translation theories and communication theories will be carried out to identify whether they produce beneficial outcomes. To ensure that the study incorporates a sufficient amount of data for making a conclusion about both types of theories, several advertisements will be analyzed, each focusing on either translation or communication theory application.
The translation of advertisements is a multifaceted process that incorporates rendering the cultural constructs alongside the linguistic patterns maintaining the message aimed at the target audience with an intention to encourage purchasing behavior. Therefore, the incorporation of both translation theories and communication theories in general and those containing cultural and language-related concepts is expected to demonstrate significant improvement effects on the quality of the translated advertising text. The proposed research is anticipated to identify which theories provide the most benefits to advertising translation under the influence of the contemporary global economic forces. It is also likely to provide qualitative characteristics of the influence of particular theories of translation and theories of communication on advertising translations.
The contribution that the outlined expected results might make to the current research and practice of translation are several. Firstly, the detected weaknesses and the solution to overcoming the challenges in obtaining a successful translation of an advertising text will allow for practical implications of the findings to the translation practices of companies for a more successful international market presence. Secondly, the identification of the correlations between theories and practical outcomes of the translation will provide an empirical basis for further linguistic and cultural research of contemporary translation in the context of economic relations. Thus, the research will benefit both the academic and business fields.
Bao, C. (2019) ‘More words on foreignization and domestication – dealing with cultural elements in advertising translation’, 2nd Symposium on Health and Education 2019 (SOHE 2019). Atlantis Press.
Chang, X. (2020) ‘Translation of advertising in cross-cultural background’, 3rd International Workshop on Advances in Social Sciences (IWASS 2020). Francis Academic Press.
Fan, H. (2017) ‘Strategies for translation of English commercial advertisements from the intercultural perspective’, Open Journal of Social Sciences, 5(11), pp. 38–45.
Li, X. (2017) ‘Aesthetic translation theories in China and the West’, The Frontiers of Society, Science and Technology, 2(5), pp. 78–81.
Qin, M. (2017) ‘On advertisement translation from the perspective of English-Chinese cultural differences’, World, 4(3), pp. 388–394.
Rahi, S. (2017) ‘Research design and methods: A systematic review of research paradigms, sampling issues and instruments development’, International Journal of Economics & Management Sciences, 6(2), pp. 1–5.
Zheng, X. (2018) ‘The influence of the difference between Chinese and Western culture on advertising translation and strategy’, Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 8(3), pp. 331–339.