Translation Problems in China

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The People's Republic of China is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party of China. 

Language

China with it’s very unique and complex language requires international advertisers to adjust their advertising slogans to different regions featuring different dialects making it easy to understand for the general public. Especially the translation for international brand names has been found essential and necessary to be successful in China (Chan and Huang, 1997). For Chinese speaking communities, easy-to-pronounce and meaningful names are important for the initial stage in generating consumer attention.

When Pepsi first entered the Chinese market a few years ago, the translation of their slogan, ‘Pepsi brings you back to life’ was a little more literal than they intended. In Chinese their slogan meant, ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’. When KFC entered the Chinese market, they discovered that their slogan, ‘Finger Licking Good’ came out as ‘Eat your fingers off’ (Marketing Translation Mistakes 2006).

At Proctor and Gamble, managers came to realize that translated literally into Chinese, the shampoo Head and Shoulders meant absolutely nothing. Thus, they completely reformulated the name in Chinese, so as to transcribe the idea of feeling good and looking beautiful (Worthy 1989).

Educational level

Majority of them are educated. The most used medium for advertising is the television.

Culture

Cultural elements like signs and symbols can prove to be another challenge for advertisers. The colour red in China has a very strong meaning. The colour of blood symbolizes the good side of life, including common associations with happiness. Black on the other hand is known as the colour of disaster, tragedy and failure. White is known as the colour of life. It is known to harmonize things and bring about a neutral atmosphere. The digit 8 in Chinese is called a ‘ba’ and shows much similarity to the pronunciation of the Chinese...
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