A Tentative Study of Trademark Translation Essay
A Tentative Study of Trademark Translation
Abstract: Trademark is a special kind of language signs. It is the concentration of commodities’ distinct characteristics, the core of commodities’ culture, and the powerful weapon for an enterprise to participate in international competitions. With the development of globalization and the increase in international trade, the products of importing and exporting strengthen day by day; the translation of trademarks is gaining more and more attention. Nowadays, more and more people have realized that a good translation of a trademark in promoting sales is crucial to the development of international markets and profits making.
According to some instances of trademark translation, this thesis summarizes some main characteristics of trademark, and discusses the principles and some general methods of trademark translation. Key words: Trademark; characteristics; translation principles; translation methods ?? :???????????? ,?????????? ,??????????? ,?????????????????????????????????????? ,?????????? ,????????????????????? ,?????????? ,????????? ,?????????????????????????????????????????????? ,???????????? ,????????????????????????? ??? :?? ;?? ;???? ;???? Introduction According to R.
Heis, an American economist: “A brand name, i. e. trademark is a name, form, sign, design or a combination of them that tells who makes it or who sells it, distinguishing that product from those made or sold by others. ” (Guo Guilong & Zhang Hongbo, 2008: 100) A trademark is just like a product’s name, which is the representative of the image of a company and the symbol of quality. In promoting sales, the trademark plays a very important role in arousing consumer’s desire to shop, bringing the huge economic benefits and even in determining the survival of a company.
With China’s joining to the WTO, China strengthens cooperation with other countries, including increasingly frequent economic and trade exchanges. How to introduce our products to foreign countries, bring foreign products into the domestic markets and conduct a successful sales business has become quite important. Therefore, a successful translation of trademark becomes urgent and necessary for the enterprises. While trademark translation is not only a simple conversion from one code to another, but a clear intention of the cross-language commercial, a special cross-cultural communication activity.
Thus, it is vital for us to pay more attention to the principles and methods of trademark translation. Chapter1 The Characteristics of Trademark Though there are various definitions of trademark, they share something in common. In general, a trademark should be simple and easy to remember, and should be distinctive and favorably associative. 1. 1 Simple and Easy to Remember It is a basic requirement for a trademark to be simple and easy to spell. Choosing short and simple words for composing trademarks will help consumers comprehend them more easily, because simple and short words are easy to keep in memory.
Nowadays, with the fast development of economy, more and more trademarks flood into the market, how could consumers memorize all of them? Therefore, if a trademark is short and easy to spell and memorize, it can occupy the market easily. In fact, most well-known trademarks are in short form, such as Nike, Sony, Apple and so on. 1. 2 Distinctive from Similar Products We all know that the purpose of using trademarks is to distinguish one product from others. Therefore, to be distinctive is another important characteristic of a trademark. Trademarks, in a sense, are equal to signs and reputations.
Distinctiveness can help customers not to be easily confused with other trademarks in the market either by sound or appearance. Distinctive and typical words may be used to distinguish the relevant product from others. “Kodak” (camera) created by the manager, is distinctive and easy for the potential consumers to memorize. The Chinese famous trademark “Lenovo”(?? ),can easily be differentiated from other computers, because “Lenovo”, a coined word, can be associated with the word “legend” which is particular and attractive. Lenovo is more innovative than legend.
Adventurous consumers will prefer that trademark distinguishes the relevant product from other computers with consummate ease. 1. 3 Arousing Favorable Association Most trademarks can arouse favorable association, which is an indispensable feature of trademark. Owing to the requirement of marketing, a trademark is not only a sign, but also an advertisement. It should arouse the favorable association and show the good quality to consumers. Some trademarks have inherent meaning and some have historic or cultural connotations, both of which can arouse favorable associations. “LUX” (soap) is a product of Unilever Company.
“LUX”, a Latin word, means “sunshine”. So the consumer can associate it with “bright sunshine and healthy skin”. This trademark even let people imagine the romantic feeling on the summer beach. What’s more, consumers can associate “LUX” with “lucks” and “luxury” from its appearance and pronunciation. Thus, Unilever Company publicizes the good quality of its products by the favorable association of the trademark. From the above example, we can see that the inherent meaning of trademarks plays an important part in advertising and can arouse people’s desirable association and let them accept the products.
Chapter 2 The Principles of Trademark Translation Trademark translation is an art as well as a science. It is a comprehensive process which is related to linguistics, translation theory, intercultural communication, aesthetics, and consumer psychology. Generally speaking, trademark translation is a complex task of compromising between the meanings of trademarks and their consumers. Therefore, to translate trademarks successfully, some principles should be taken into consideration. 2. 1 Reveal the Products’ Characteristics Usually, every product has its identification.
Trademark translation should show the features and functions of the products, so that the buyers could immediately think of the usage of products when they see the trademarks. As has been discussed by Xu Hui and Cheng Zhendong, the characteristic of a product means that it has some basic elements which differ from those of others (Xu Hui, 2004:55-56). The translated brand name should match with the characteristics of products and show the idea of the original name. The characteristics of products not only distinguish from others, but also contain the ability to communicate with the consumers.
Thus, in the process of translation, the translator should grasp the characteristics of the products, so as to promote the understanding of products for consumers, and help learn the characteristics and functions of the products by the first sight. For example, a trademark of suit-dress “Hope Show” is translated into “?? ”, in which the word “? ” instantly reflects in the products for the apparel category, and “? ” add more promotion of a happy and peaceful feeling to the goods. The translation not only reflects the features of the product but also caters to consumers’ aesthetic taste.
Nobody will have interest in products which they are not acquainted. A successful trademark translation should have the trait that customers can learn the category and characteristics of the product. Like “Nike”, the famous American brand of sports wears, is the name of the goddess Victory in Greek myth. According to its pronunciation, it can be translated into “?? ” or “?? ” in Chinese. However, these two names can’t reveal the characteristics of the product, but even give people a misunderstanding that “Nike” is some products for women. “?? ” is better. “? ” means something durable.
As the sport wear, durability is equal to good quality. “? ” implies that people can finally overcome difficulties and succeed, conforming with the connotation of Victory. These two words in Chinese show the features of the product perfectly. Another example is Procter & Gamble’s antidandruff shampoo “Head & Shoulders”. The translation “??? ” means dandruff disappears when washed, and highlights the distinct characteristics of the product fully. Another two examples are “Sportsman” (bicycle) and “Unlsports” (sports shoes).
The former is translated into “????”, the latter into “???? ”. If you are not familiar with the trademarks, who will associate it with their products? 2. 2 Choose the Appropriate Words As the symbol of products, trademarks should be simple and easy to remember and understandable for consumers. So in order to leave the best impression on consumers, translators should choose some appropriate words during the process of trademark translation. The more complicated words in the translation, the weaker the trademark sounds and the less memorable it becomes. For instance, McDonald’s was transliterated into “????” in mainland of China before and now is displaced by “??? ”.
Also, in mainland, the brand name “Hewlett & Packard” had a long translation of “??? -??? ” for a long period. Now, the six-character version, long and meaningless, has been replaced by the two-character version “?? ”. Balancing these two versions, we can see the latter is easier to pronounce and memorize. Moreover, “?? ” contains more meanings and can stimulate more favorable e favorable association of the the productassociation of consumers. Similarly, “Head &Shoulder”(shampoo) was transliterated into “?????
” before and now a more compact and meaningful version “??? ” is popular. “Stafanel”, the brand name for apparel from US, is translated into “???? ” now. However, what about a two-character version “?? ”? Also in China, “Mercedes-Benz”, the brand name for a quality car from Germany, was transliterated into “???? ·?? ” before and yet is put into “?? ” at present. A car from Great Britain “Rolls Royce” is translated into “???? ” now instead of the former transliteration “??? ·??? ”. The Chinese version for “Fair Child”, a semi-conductor from the US, was “????? ” before and now is “?? ” instead. “?? ” is easier to be pronounced and memorized than “???? ” for “Nescafe” from Swiss.
The upper new versions have replaced the old renderings because they are simple and easy to be accepted by consumers, in pronunciation, form and meaning. Easy acceptance by consumers finally promotes the sales of the products. On the contrary, some translations sound profane or may lead to negative associations in the Chinese language. Thus such translations would not be recognized and accepted by consumers. For examples, “Psorales”, a drug, was put into “??? ” when just coming into China.
No one knew what “??? ” was and assumed it to be something discarded. It is not hard to imagine nobody would buy things that sound worn and useless. Later, it is replaced by “??? ”,a more vivid and meaningful version, and its sales was improved afterwards. 2. 3 Analyze the Aesthetics Features Trademark translation should comply with the characteristics of morphology of trademark in the TL. “Getting the best out of the combination of beauty in meaning, sound and form is the internal requirement if we want to realize the associated function and the advertising function of a brand name”.
(Tang Zhongshun, 2002:75-77) The translated trademark accordingly must be normative, elegant, vivid and visual. Firstly, “beauty of meaning” means the translated terms should produce an artistic conception through a favorable association of words or component words so that people will have rich and nice association and arouse the expectation and pursuit of wonderful things. We have the typical examples of “Sprite” (beverage) and “Tide” (washing power). Since “Sprite” was translated into “?? ” in Chinese, this product has prevailed in China due to the brilliant color and abundant connotation.
The translated term “?? ” in sound is not only quite close to the pronunciation of the original brand name, but also makes people have a favorable association of lustration, neatness and tidiness, showing the sort and feature of the product. Secondly, “beauty of sound” means a brand name of the original and its translated version should basically share the same or similar pronunciation with the quality of sonority, rhythmization and musicality so that an aesthetically pleasing enjoyment is gained in hearing that brand name (Zhang Quan, 2004:77-79).
There are many successfully translated versions fully reflect the beauty of sounds. Take “OMO” (washing power) and “Clean&Clear” (facial cleanser) for example. As “OMO” is translated into “?? ”,it sounds like a compliment “great” in English. The translated term of “Clean&Clear”, “???? ” makes good use of alliterative rhythmic reduplication in order to achieve a combination of phonetic rhythm and verve.
Lastly, “beauty of form” means the translated trademarks should make the best of conciseness and simpleness in structure, namely using few syllables, readability and understandability of the words and avoiding difficult and seldom-using words. People prefer two or three words of translated versions because this structure better accords with the referential custom and aesthetic psychology. There are many famous translated brand names with the above feature, such as “Head&Shoulders” (shampoo), “Avon” (cosmetic), “Johnsons” (cream) and so on. Especially the translated version “???
” is full of the characteristics of concision, elegance and vividness representing the feature and function of the product. 2. 4 Pay Attention to Cultural Differences Edward Taylor defined culture as “a complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by individuals as members of a society. ” (Taylor Edward B, 1871:36) Namely, the major factors contributing to the making of culture are the religions, habits, customs and history, which vary considerable from countries to countries.
As a carrier of culture, language is an important part of culture which reflects the characteristics of a nation, which not only includes the nation’s historical and cultural background, but also contains the national outlook on life, lifestyles and ways of thinking. From the relationship between language and culture, it is obvious that translation is not only a process of transferring the source language into the target language, but also a process of a mutual communication and exchange between different cultures.
Therefore, during the process of trademark translation, as language and culture are inseparable from each other, it is essential to pay more attention to cultural differences. 2. 4. 1. Differences in Religions Religions, myths, legends, and images from literary works are an in-separable part of culture. They are deeply rooted in culture and at the same time contribute a great deal to the formation of people’s concepts about certain objects.
These elements, when involved in brand name translation, call for the translator’s sensitivity as well as flexibility in cultural adaptation in order that functional equivalence could be attained between the source brand name and the target brand name. For example, Goldlion was not well-liked when it first appeared in the Chinese market with the name“?? ”. It is said that many people would not buy that product just because the name sounds very close to“?? ”in some Chinese dialects. Other people believe that the name was not well accepted because it resembles the sound of“??
”,which is also a taboo idea in China, especially in Hong Kong, where people display a particular liking for things with luck-bearing names. Anyway, the product did not sell well until the new name“??? ”was adopted by Zeng Xianzi, a famous Chinese entrepreneur. He skillfully took apart the source brand name into“gold”and“lion”. The first part was literally put into“? ”to be faithful to the original, while the latter adopted the method of semantic transliteration and was put into“?? ”,meaning“bringing profit”. Such an auspicious name has helped a lot in building up the good fame of the product. 2. 4. 2 Differences in History.
Every country has its own history. In the history, many historical incidents happened. These incidents have carved into the culture and have become a part of it. Being unaware of the history when translating a trademark will lead to failure. “Opium” is a brand of perfume. Actually in the western cul ention to hich reflects nd nice associationame, but also makes ation. things. he producr. ture, such kind of trademark name is popular, such as Poison, another perfume brand. However in China, “?? ” has a negative meaning. The Chinese people experienced the shameful history related to opium since 1840, when the notorious Opium War broke out.
Without the consideration of history, this brand encountered the resistance from the Chinese consumers. Finally, the trademark name “?? ” was banned in China. 2. 4. 3 Differences in Customs and Habits Custom is one of the branches of culture reflecting the specific characteristics of a nation or parts of the nation. It is the sediment of long history and closely linked with the surroundings and the way of life. So some customs and habits exist in one culture but may be absent in another, which brings about an obstacle to Chinese-English brand name translation.
Many Chinese brand names come from Chinese custom. One of the most famous rice wines named “??? ” (Daughter Wine) is produced in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province of China. To Chinese customers, the brand name represents the happy events in one’s life, while they cannot arouse the same feeling in westerners if translated literally and that will absolutely cause cultural loss, because the western consumers do not know about the custom of the ancient Shaoxing. It is said that in ancient Shaoxing a jar of this wine was buried under the ground when a daughter was brought into the world.
When the girl grew up and became a bride, the jar was dug out and presented to the guests attending the wedding. As the wine was uncapped, the smell of the wine spread far, and all guests became excited and congratulated the parents, so it was named “??? ”. When a translator translate the trade mark, it is very necessary to reveal the cultural information of the brand names. It is not only easy for customers to know about the origin of the wine but accept it quickly, because any one from any country would like to equally appreciate the beautiful things, enjoy the happy feeling and desire success.
Thus, in order to reveal the cultural information of this brand name, perhaps the translation “Daughter’s Wedding Wine” is more suitable. 2. 4. 4 Differences in the Attitudes towards Animals and Numbers People living in different cultures hold different attitudes and beliefs towards animals and numbers. What is considered a good omen in one culture may not symbolize the same in another. Therefore, it is generally advisable that people should not use this type of words to name the relative products, and when one translates existing brand names of this type, cultural adaptation may help him find a more proper target brand name.
The difficulties caused by such words in brand name translation may be illustrated with the following example. As we know, the Chinese people often associate bats with good luck because the Chinese character “? ”sounds the same as“? ”(meaning“good fortune”). Some Chinese legends even say that when a bat lives 100 years, it turns white in color and hangs upside down from a tree, and eating that bat could bring a person longevity. A red bat foretells even better luck for“?? ”sounds exactly the same with“?? ”(being supremely fortunate). Some Chinese stick to the belief so much that they name their products“??
”. But if the translator adapts his linguistic choices to the different attitude towards the animal in European cultures, he would not consider“ Bat” a good name, for bat is regarded as an extremely evil omen in many European folklores. Perhaps translations like “Fortunes” would be better. Besides, numbers bring about different associations. Generally speaking, each culture has certain numbers believed to be either “lucky” or “ominous”, but this may often differ from individual to individual. Let’s take the translation of “7-up”, a brand of soft drink, as an example.
The number “7” is thought to be a lucky number to many English speakers, but it does not have the same meaning in Chinese. Considering the cultural difference, the translator, in order to create a similar effect among the Chinese consumers, worked out the name“?? ”. The name is quite satisfactory because its first part“? ”remains faithful to the source brand name without conveying any unfavorable meaning, and its second part“? ”conveys the meaning of“happiness and good luck”,and hence makes up for the loss of connotation in the number“7”.
Chapter 3 General Methods in Trademark Translation Peter Newmark once said that different translation strategies should be adopted according to the different functions of different works (Mou Yan, 2008). It is well-known that trademark translation is not only to convey the cultural information of the source culture, but also to set up a good image in the target culture, and finally to attract the people in the target market to the product. In order to achieve these purposes, translators should adopt the following methods in the process of trademark translation. 3. 1 Literal Translation
Literal translation, referred to as semantic translation by Peter Newmark, is a way of translation which aims at preserving the most possible cultural messages (including the communicative aspect of culture, such as, the formal elements of the SL) of the source text at the sacrifice of the formal elements of the target language and sometimes even the intelligibility of the target text (Zheng Shengtao, 1994). Since the formation of words in the Chinese language is different from that in the Western languages, it is actually impossible to achieve trademark translation by word-for-word translation in most cases.
Peter Newmark favors “literal translation” too. He says, “I am somewhat of a ‘literalist’ because I am for truth and accuracy”. (Newmark Peter, 2001:62) Although sometimes literal translation may create something exotic or even eccentric for the target language readers, it will gradually be accepted by the target language and its culture. As long as the translated brand names from foreign language can be understood and accepted by the target consumers, literal translation is the best way for promoting cultural exchange through the brand name translation in China.
As the brand name translation is to transfer between cultures, translators should make the target consumers understand the source culture. Some people say there is a better way for translators to approach the original. That is literal translation, which can keep the national feature. For example, some traditional brand names, which are very familiar to the Westerners even to the world like “?? ” (The Yangtze River), “?? ” (the Yellow River), and “?? ” (the Great Wall) are chosen by the producers, as they are the symbols of Chinese wonderful natural history.
When translators translate them, they have no need to do any translation. As these brand names are well-known to the world, and these Chinese characteristics of brand names are fresh and mysterious to the Westerners, it is easy to evoke the target consumers’ purchasing desire. Translators can adopt literal translation. The brand names “?? ”, “??? ”, “??? ” carry our ancient cultural information. When translators translate them into the Western languages, they should keep literal translation and add some notes, in order to let the target consumers know the source culture.
Literal translation also keeps the general form and keeps the structure of the source language. Today, Chinese culture are getting more and more popular in the world, and more and more Westerners are eager to study our language in order to learn our long history. Therefore, the kind of translation is a necessary way to let more people learn our traditional culture. On the other hand, in the English-speaking countries, there are some brand names which can be literally translated. For example, the very famous brand name “White cat” is translated into “?? ”.
And the brand name “Camel” is translated into “?? ”. All these translated brand names are very suitable for the products, and the products will very probably be loved by the consumers in the target market. Here literal translation is not the same as word-for-word translation. Word-for-word translation is to rigidly reproduce every word in the process of translation. Strictly speaking, it is not a translation method. But, literal translation is a skill of translation, even if there do exist some additions or deletions while the essence of the original is not destroyed.
Literal translation makes the target language more smooth and acceptable. Although literal translation can most possibly maintain the cultural messages of the source language, it sometimes will cause misunderstanding of the cultural messages or create unintelligible meanings. Let’s take Sprite as an example. If the word “Sprite” is translated literally or directly, it might be “?? ”. The version would put Chinese consumers into great confusion because “?? ” is a human-like monster in Chinese culture. Thus translators should consider other methods.
Literal translation is adopted as the most ideal translation technique in reproducing images because it can preserve the original images as much as possible. Some English expressions wearing word-for-word similarity to some Chinese expressions may mean something quite different. In this case, translators should go deeper to find out what these English expressions really mean; otherwise mistakes will be made in literal translation. 3. 2 Transliteration Transliteration in a narrow sense is a mapping from one system of writing into another and it is mostly based on the pronunciation.
Transliteration attempts to be lossless, so that an informed reader should be able to reconstruct the original spelling of unknown transliterated words. To achieve this objective, transliteration may define complex conventions to deal with letters in a source script that do not correspond with letters in a goal script. Transliteration means that trademarks are translated into similar names in pronunciation according to the original ones (Li Yi, 2009:232-234) It is generally believed that the adoption of this method can help to achieve various purposes.
Some trademarks obtained in this way can effectively remind the customers of their classic status. Such trademarks are easier for target consumers to pronounce and memorize. Still, some trademarks are deliberately transliterated in order to cater to the foreign consumers’ general preference for foreign goods because some thus-translated trademarks sound more foreign-like. The world famous trademark “Intel” means: the ability to learn and reason and the capacity for knowledge and comprehension. Now you see why it is translated into “??? ” which sounds foreign-like and is easy to memorize and read.
Meanwhile, it indicates the characteristic of the product. Another example is the translation of “Ya Ya”. “?? ” (down wear) is transliterated into “Ya Ya” instead of “Duck”. The translated trademark “Ya Ya” is a catchy name that can fulfill the simulating function of trademark effectively. These two examples show the characteristics of being simple and easy to pronounce and memorize and as well obey the principle of aesthetics. Though transliteration embodies the sound beauty of the original one, the translated trademark dictions should be chosen carefully.
During transliteration, it is important to obey the characteristics of arousing desirable association. “Philip” was once translated into “??? ” which sounds more similar to the original one than “??? ”. But the three characters “??? ” will arouse unfavorable association. People prefer good and appropriate words, and hence, when using transliteration method, translators should do their best to choose beautiful words. For example, “Lancome” (cosmetics) is put into “?? ”.
The two Chinese characters are beautiful and can be associated with an elegant woman with certain spiritual qualities. These two words “?? ” are always connected with beautiful things, such as “???? ,???? ”. That’s why Chinese females have a partiality for “Lancome”. In translation practice, we find that English trademarks are highly coherent in letters or words and can be pronounced easily in one breath, while the transliteration of Chinese trademarks are broken into independent words in accordance with the specific Chinese characters. So the English version often lacks coherence.
To avoid the disadvantage of transliteration in strict accordance with the standard Chinese pronunciation, we can use transliteration method flexibly. To some extent, we can translate a trademark according to the local pronunciation. The following examples successfully avoid the above problem. “?? ” (refrigerator) is translated into “Frestech” instead of “Xin Fei”. “Frestech” is composed of “fresh” and “technology”, which is coherent in structure and pronunciation. What’s more, it also implies that the product is produced with advanced technology. “??” (tonic food) means that happiness is coming, suggesting the product will bring happiness and health to consumers.
The English version “Life” caters to westerners’ psychology and is easier for them to pronounce and spell. 3. 3 Free Translation “Free translation reproduces the matter without the manner, or the content without the form of the original. Usually it is a paraphrase longer than the original. ” In order to take advantage of the target language and make translated brand name more idiomatic and acceptable, some imaginary brand names are freely translated.
Free translation can communicate the information of products clearly and vividly. It will make a strong impression on the target language consumers and arouse their response. There are many successful examples to show this method. For example, “Ariel” (washing powder) is rendered as “?? ”. The word “? ” means “clean” and “clear”. So “?? ” indicates the super cleaning capability of the washing powder. Similarity, “Safeguard” (soap) is not literally translated into “?? ”, but “??? ”. The translation describes the product’s function and attributes.
“Rejoice” (shampoo) is not translated into “??”, but “?? ”, meaning softness and glossiness. “Slek”(shampoo) is also rendered as “?? ” through free translation. “?? ” in Chinese can be a noun as well as a verb phrase. If “?? ” is interpreted as a noun, it means beautiful buds, implying ladies will be like an elegant bud after using the shampoo; if “?? ” is interpreted as a verb, it means nourishing a bud to make it come out. This implies the shampoo can make hair glossier. “Zest”(soap) is paraphrased as “?? ” through free translation. “? ” is a very popular word in China, which brings the soap a fashionable element.
This translation is improved from the original one “?? ” in literal method. “?? ” is more proper and suitable to meet the needs of the youth who are the target customers. 3. 4 Liberal Translation plus Transliteration In order to reach the criteria of trademark translation—beauty in meaning and sound, and to make the translated versions possess the general features of good brand names, we can use the combination of liberal translation and transliteration to translate brand names, since in many cases liberal or transliteration cannot do the job along.
A good translation of a brand name should not only be similar to the original sound but also reflect the connotation of the original. The combination of liberal translation and transliteration may achieve double purposes, as the message of the brand name will be more vividly reflected so that it will be more impressive to guide consumption. Here we take some examples to appreciate the merits of this kind of method. For example, “Pampers”—diapers from P&G, is rich in meaning and clear in pronunciation. The translated brand name “???
” has got a balance between the meaning and the pronunciation. The brand name of a medicine “Bufferin” is translated into “??? ”. The translated brand name does not tell us what the medicine is, but it forms a sound which is very close to that of the source brand name. A drink named “Milo” is translated into “?? ”, which not only makes us know that the pronunciation of the translated word is close to that of the original, but tells us what the product is made from and the property of the product.