The Linguist

The Linguist 57,4 - August/September 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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@Linguist_CIOL AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 17 FEATURES comedy for a Middle East beset with religious strife. Unfortunately, the headline had to be sledgehammered into a harmless statement – along the lines of Muhammed Ali's proverbial 'float like a butterfly, sting like a bee'. The more reduced the statement and motif, the smoother (but not necessarily the more effective) its universal delivery. The basic rule of design, 'simplicity is strength', is equally applicable to a text concept and its international implementation – and if not strength, simplicity certainly means cognition. However, a reductive method is by no means the path of least resistance, particularly when applied to humour. Tapping into such tried-and-tested sources as the Arabian Nights may not be an option in the search for a tangible joke that transcends time and culture. In reality, the transcreator may be in no position to exert any influence on the humour of the original concept at all, as is often the case when the creative department produces a brilliant pun that is hopelessly chained to the source language. The pun's international implementation will have to be tackled after the initial battles – winning the pitch and approval of the budget – have been won. Adapting a concept to the international marketplace may not even be considered until it has proven to be a domestic success. The challenge of spinning a successful yarn around an expensive and thus inflexible motif is the ultimate litmus test of a transcreator's powers of invention. JUST RIGHT With their 'weil ich will' campaign for the women's shoe brand Marco Tozzi, Wynken Blynken & Nod Advertising Agency (formerly Supermoon) set out to make a brazen appeal to the typical fashion enthusiast's inner sense of volition. The tagline, which basically means 'because I want (to/it)', was conceived as the extension of an interchangeable headline that needed to be streamlined, where possible, to a word matched with the conjunction weil ('because'), such as weil geil ('Because it's hot') and weil taff ('Because it's tough'). To complement the statement, a sassy model was depicted sporting the various Marco Tozzi products in aesthetic interaction with the bold typography. In collaboration with the creative agency, we went to work not just to transcreate an idea, but to cop a defiant attitude. The target here was not necessarily the age group depicted, but rather the inner adolescent in people of various ages; the potential customer for whom the whimsical act of shopping is no less than a gratifying expression of will. The cavalier explanation weil ich will flippantly asks, between the lines, 'dare you question?'. The relatively direct Russian Потому что я хочу! (lit. 'Because I want [to]!') worked well, communicating the defiant posture we desired while providing a template that could be adapted to any series of headlines. Although its longer length made it typographically less pliable than the original – a common problem with Russian adaptations – the design could be compromised in order to retain the attitude: In contrast, the English language lent itself to a solid architectonic reduction. After brainstorming both with and without the creative agency, we were able to produce a tagline so succinct that it carried as much impact as the original: 'just because!' The product was a textbook case of early and rewarding communication between client, creative agency and transcreation agency, perfectly illustrating that the earlier the transcreation team is integrated into the creative process, the more efficient and effective the transnational campaign will be. countries; an exclusive lounge reserved for communist nomenklatura in others. Some years back, we expressed serious doubts about an agency's VW van campaign, which we were commissioned to research and adapt for the English market. Our analysis, centred around the shadowy figure behind the wheel of a white vehicle, called attention to negative associations in the Anglo- American collective consciousness: in Britain, of the road-hogging proletarian chauvinist; in America, of the two-bit thug or drug dealer. Sadly, our critique was soon vindicated during the infamous DC-area sniper attacks, when, in an atmosphere of mass paranoia, countless (VW) white van drivers were 'hauled down to the precinct', while the loyal sharpshooters continued their rampage from the back seat of a red Chevrolet Caprice. The response to the tragic incident confirmed our reservations and reinforced our advice. WORKFLOW ISSUES Timely communication between the creative and transcreation teams is also essential for successful workflow. The early development of an English adaptation, for example, may have a crucial effect on efficiency at a later stage. Not only does it make the original idea more comprehensible for transcreators of multiple nationalities, but by providing a template for a uniform and coherent approach at the start, it reduces the number of feedback phases required to produce a consistent product. It is also helpful to draw some boundaries in the initial phase, particularly regarding the ever-popular tendency to push taboos to new limits. This problem is typical for lingerie ads, which often contain images and make statements considered inappropriate in many cultures. Yet we've also stumbled blindly into the faux pas of a campaign for garden products depicting a beautiful blonde model in a bikini effortlessly pushing a lawnmower, an image that was – perhaps over-cautiously – slashed for the Iranian market. Even a seemingly harmless motif can be a problem, such as the elaborate chainsaw ad that we were once tasked with adapting into Arabic and Hebrew. The image of a levitating chainsaw saturated in flames was accompanied by a headline that, roughly translated, read 'heavenly light and hellishly good', a juxtaposition that provided no divine

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