The Influence Of Cultural Difference On Trademark Translation Cultural Studies Essay

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As a product of the development of the world market economy, trademark has been well regarded as a key element in the success of the advertising of an enterprise. Trademark is closely related to the sales and reputation of businesses and it has long been proved by history that a successful trademark would always facilitate the success of a business. As for trademark, it may have the following functions. Firstly, "the trademark performs the role of identifying the goods of a particular manufacturer and gives an indication of its origin, or establishes a connection in the course of trade. Secondly, trademark assures quality of the product and acts as a symbol representing the goodwill of the business."(wikipedia, 2011) Also a trademark advertises the product and creates an image in the mind of the ultimate purchaser. Therefore, the naming of trademark has developed into an important strategy in winning the market for businesses all around the world. Since China's accession into the WTO in 2000, it is becoming increasingly involved in the world market economy and is faced with more chances as well as challenges ever in history. Furthermore, with the rapid development of global economy integration, more and more foreign commodities have been rushing into China's domestic market, posing even fiercer competitions in terms of not only quality and service of commodities but also trademarks. All these have suggested that the study on the translation of trademark is of great importance.

Over the past several decades, with the rapid development of the world economy, numerous new-born industries have sprung up all around the world. This has consequently made the trademark one of the fastest and most dramatically developing advertising texts which influence people's life in various ways and which, as the economy further develops, would exert even more influences on the world. However, being inconsistent with the rapid development of trademark terms, trademark translation, which is becoming increasingly important internationally due to the dramatic development of economic globalization, is still in its infancy stage with only few articles or monographs on trademark translation available in domestic study. Good news is that trademark translation as a whole has been receiving increasing attention from advertisers, marketers as well as scholars, though none of their studies exclusively specialize in trademark translation. As a matter of fact, trademark translation is regarded as part of advertising translation and studies on trademark translation have been included in some of the studies on advertising translation. Therefore, the development of advertising translation could to some extent, shed some light on the evolution of trademark translation.

In 1972, the term of advertising translation made its "virgin appearance" among the people in Hurbin's article Peut-on Traduire la Langue de la Publicite-Can You Translate the Language of Advertising. Hurbin states in the article the importance of the study on advertising translation and demonstrated the way advertising materials such as brand names, slogans and trademarks are expressed in different languages. (Hurbin 24-32)

Vestergaard and Schrader's The language of Advertising in 1985 illustrates the range of linguistic and visual techniques advertisers use to achieve emphasis and special effects. They reveal the ways in which the advertiser preys on beliefs about sex roles and prejudices about social groups which bring the previous studies to a discourse level.

In 1995, Candace Seguinot, in her article of Translation and Advertising: Going Global in Cultural Functions of Translation, discusses translation advertising from a cultural and semiotic perspective, saying that "the marketing of goods and services across cultural boundaries involves an understanding of culture and semiotics that goes well beyond both language and design"(Seguinot,1995:55-72), which indicates the importance of cultural elements in translating both ads and trademarks.

After that, with the emergence of the ever fast-developing international trade and economic globalization, studies on advertising translation have increased in number.

1997, Smith V. and C.Klein-Braley published a paper Advertising--a Five-stage Strategy for Translation in which they concluded the approaches to the problem of translating advertisements into five categories, and some of them such as Straight translation, Adaptation(keep visuals, change text slightly or significantly) and Revision(keep visuals, write new text) are regarded as quite applicable to trademark translation.

And in line with the economic globalization, Mathieu Guidere wrote a book named "Translating Ads" in 2000 which is considered to be the only book exclusively specializing in advertising translation. In his book, Mathieu aims at describing advertising translation in the context of globalization and deals with the advertising of multinational corporations which are in need of translating their slogans, communication campaigns and trademarks into several other languages. Mathieu also proposed the translation be "effective" in a purpose to promote the sales of the product or service in the target culture. ( Guidere 89)

In China, the study on advertising and trademark translation did not begin until the 1980s for China has just been going to the international economy for about 30 years. During that period of time, most of these studies were done from the lexical, syntactical or rhetorical perspectives. And it was in the 1990s that several advertising and trademark translation principles came to take their initial shape. Among these, various new perspectives such as religious, aesthetic and psychological perspectives were added to the principles of ads and trademark translation. According to domestic data available, Zhao Jian-cheng and Yu Liu-guo (1993) applied the theory of textual function in their study of advertising translation. And later, Huang Guowen's book Theory and Practice of Discourse Analysis--A Study in Advertising Discourse (2001), made a detailed study of English advertisement from the perspective of Systemic-Functional Linguistics. (Huang 75) The book of Advertising Linguistic: A Course Book (2009) by Cao Wei and Gao Jun is yet another example of an overall study on advertising and trademark translation from lexical, syntactical and rhetorical perspectives. In recent years, pragmatics has emerged as another approach toward advertising and trademark translation. Apart from this, there are also experts who suggest advertising and trademark translation be done under mere consideration of the cultural and ideological differences between different audiences while literal honesty to the original texts should be discarded when addressing oversea audiences.

2.2. Problems in Previous Researches

However, despite the increasing researches and studies on advertising and trademark translation, some problems remain unsolved. Trademark is one of the most important means of advertising products because it performs the role of identifying the goods of a particular manufacturer and makes the first impression of the goods on consumers, which would create an image of goodwill in the mind of the ultimate purchaser. Thus, trademark translation becomes a very important task in introducing products to overseas markets in different cultures. Nowadays, the situation is becoming even more urgent under the circumstances of the deepening economic globalization which has made international trade across different cultures a common place. Regrettably, although great achievement of the study of trademark translation has been made, there are still some problems remain unsolved. Firstly, "most studies done in this field is based on the manifestation of specific examples of trademark translation without a series of systematic and scientific theories". There are a lot of good examples of trademark translation but there is never a systematic and scientific theory by which researchers can follow. Some of the traditional theories, in most cases, may lead to misunderstandings resulting from undue adherence to the source text and inadequate consideration of cultural differences. Secondly, the previous studies of the translation of trademark-a symbol of the rapid changes in modern society-has lost its charm of vigor due to the lack of fresh materials with repeatedly quoted examples and single minded perspective: Coca-cola which is translated as 可口可乐 and Benz as 奔驰, etc. Finally, the studies of trademark translation are mostly done in forms of papers or essays with few systematic and scientific monographs or books specializing in the study on this subject.

2.3. The Importance of the Study

As has mentioned above, trademark is a product of the development of the world market economy and it has been well regarded as a key element in the success of the advertising of an enterprise. Trademark is closely related to the sales and reputation of businesses and it has long been proved by history that a successful trademark would always facilitate the success of a business.

A trademark is embodied with rich cultural content. The cultural differences between different nations play a major role in understanding advertising and advertising or trademark translation, for cultural differences have their manifestation in social conventions, consumers' psychology, religion and aesthetics, all of which have a dramatic influence on people's life. Some scholars has concluded that trademark translation is not just a simple transfer of one language to another, but a blending and collision between different cultures, thus, making trademark translation more of a cultural translation. Therefore, the study on trademark translation from a cultural aspect is indeed very necessary and important.

2.4. Theory Applied in the Study

To analyze the influence of cultural difference on trademark translation, the Adaptation Theory from Verschueren is adopted by the author for it provides a more comprehensive perspective from social, cultural and cognitive aspects for the research on trademark translation.

The theory of adaptation is advanced by Verschueren in his book of Understanding Pragmatics, 1999. The theory originates from the basic principle of adaptation for species in wild life-in order to survive the bitter wild environment, biological species have to constantly make adaptations to the changing environment. In Verschueren eyes, the same holds true for the language communication-"language using is a process of adaptation in which communicators making negotiable linguistic choices from a variable range of possibilities in such as way so as to approach points of satisfaction for communicative need" (Versehueren, 1999:61). He then thoroughly examined the social progress of communicating and included the social, cultural and cognitive aspects in his theory from the perspective of pragmatics.

However, previous approaches of trademark translation lay emphasis on the result of trademark translation while neglecting translating process. Therefore, the research on trademark translation under the framework of adaptation theory is almost a virgin area. In this regard, the author of this paper, enlightened by the findings of the Theory of Adaptation, considers it to be the best theory for trademark translation from the perspective of cultural difference.

Under the Adaptation Theory, Verschueren maintains that the language consists of three properties, namely, adaptability, variability and negotiability which is quite in line with trademark translation, for trademark is changing and spreading rapidly across different cultures nowadays and the 'variability' provides different choices for translation, 'negotiability' explains how choices are made for different cultures and the 'adaptability' interprets why choices are made. Also, the research scope of Verschueren covers social, cultural and cognitive aspects which are similar to the basic elements of cultural difference with 'social' to 'social conventions' and 'cognitive' to 'psychology'.

3. Understanding of Trademark

3.1. Definition of Trademark

The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines a trademark as "a special name, sign, or word that is marked on a product to show that it is made by a particular company, that cannot be used by any other company"(Harris&Levey, 1975).

And according to the definition of trademark from, a trademark is "a word, symbol, or phrase used to identify a particular company's product and differentiate it from other companies' products."(Wikipedia, 2011) Mostly, a trademark is composed of a whole picture and one or a few words. For

instance the trademark of, which consists the word "BMW" and the whole picture of . Some may feel confused about such term as trademark, trade name and brand name. These three terms do not only share a large number of similarities but also great differences that lie mainly in four aspects: firstly, according to the definition of trade name in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English a trademark is different from a trade name in that the "precious one is used to identify a particular company's product while the latter is used to identify a particular manufacturer or company engaged in production"(Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 2004). Therefore, a trademark can be used individually while a trade name cannot. The difference between a trademark and a brand name mainly lies in that a brand name has a larger scope than that of a trademark or in other words, a trademark may be part of a brand name while a brand name is not.

3.2. Functions of Trademark

An successful translation of a trademark from one culture to another is very important for the marketing and development of a enterprise because of the following functions a trademark may have.

Informative function: As a special means of advertising, trademark contains a lot of information about products. A trademark is just like a bridge which conveys the most distinctive features of a product directly to customers. For instance, the translation of the trademark "Rejoice" to "飘柔"(shampoo) implies part of its function which is smoothing your hair. "Excelle"(car) originating from "excellent" gives an impression of superb quality and in the case of "Fairlady"(shoes for femal), it serves as a bridge that combines its product and the target customer which in this case refers to women. In this way, customers would find it easier to find what they want and companies easier to market their product.

Aesthetic function: the creating of a trademark is an art that integrated the creating of graphic beauty, phonetic beauty and semantic beauty rather than just a work of choosing words, for creating a readable, easily memorizing and attention attracting trademark is one of the most important aspects in the advertising and publicizing of a product. A successful example in the realization of aesthetic functions of a trademark would not only provide sufficient information but also possess a sense of beauty, easy to memorize and would finally arouse customers' deaire to buy the product.

Persuasive function: as one kind of advertising text, the ultimate goal of a trademark is to persuade customers to buy its product. Therefore, a trademark text should not only provide enough information about the product but also be psychological appealing. For example, the word "吉利"(aotomobile) in China means auspicious and good luck. It arouses customers' purchasing desire by appealing to their psychological needs.

Due to the difference of development in history, different value concepts have been developed into the society. The difference between values may have its manifestation in many aspects such as aesthetic concepts, different views on beauty and so on. Western trademarks have a preference on naming trademarks after names-names of the founders or celebrities-for their worship for individualism is embedded in their values and they lay much emphasis on "special", "independence", or "self-reliance". On the other hand, Chinese trademarks are always named after flowers or animals or other substance in nature, for the Chinese values are greatly influenced by its traditional philosophies of Confucianism, Taoism and so on. They lay much emphasis on the harmony of nature and the balance between human society and nature. Therefore, their admiration for the nature and the substance in of nature is also embedded in their value concepts.

The psychological differences between China and western countries mainly refers to their difference between philosophy, science, religion, art and other concepts. Formed through their work and development generation after generation, the psychology of a nation is an integral part of a culture. It reflects people's views on certain things such as their preference or prejudice toward certain things, taboos and so on. For instance, the number 13 is considered to be a serious taboo in the west while in China it indicates nothing else but the figure '13'. Customers have a tendency to lay their confidence in those commodities whose trademarks contain positive meaning rather than those with negative meaning. Therefore, in the case of figure 13, translators should spare no effort to transliterate the negative meaning of 13 for the target customer.

Customs and social conventions together is regarded as an overt expression of the social culture of a nation. It reflects a culture's unique way of life which makes up the major aspect of a society. The difference between what Chinese people and people from the west will say in their greetings serves as a good example: Chinese people usually express their greetings by asking if he/she has had his/her meal or not when he/she encounters an acquaintance accidentally, while this is considered to be very misleading in the west for people would take it seriously that you want invite him/her to have a meal with you. Customs and social conventions is also a important element which may have a great influence on customers' purchasing activities. A trademark translation which is appealing to the customs and social conventions will very likely win the target customers trust and thus arouse their desire to purchase.

Cultural values actually contains a so large range of contents that in some cases other cultural elements such as psychology and customs could all be included in it. Indeed, many people believe that value concept is one of the most influential factors that influence customer behaviour. Value is considered to be so important because it is a series of principles and criteria learned throughout people's life which tell "people what to do, what to pursue, what's right and wrong, what's required and what's forbidden". It permeates a culture and exerts tremendous influences on every part of life. An understanding of value may help us understand the behaviour of other people and thus resolve many problems and conflicts. This is also very helpful in the translation of trademarks and the promotion of sales. For example, Americans hold different value concepts toward politeness from those of Chinese. They consider the punctuality of time a more important part of being politeness than Chinese people do. By knowing this, when Chinese businessmen are doing business in America, they may pay more attention to puncutality so as to leave a good impression on their American counterparts. However, an understanding of value is just not enough in the case of trademark translation. Value is associated with things such as ethics, morals, religions and attitude toward life which are so deeply embedded in one culture that it can be transmitted from one generation to another without any tremendous change. Therefore, when trademarks are to be translated into the target culture, the cultural contents should be adapted so as to conform to the values of the target market and promote sales consequently.

Different countries have different customs and social conventions which would exert tremendous influence on what product are to be manufactured, how they are manufactured, by whom will these product be purchased and in what way will these product be consumed. These information are all very important to trademark translation, for something which is very necessary and appropriate in one country may turn out to be redundant and ridiculous and fail to attract people's attention in another.

China and western countries have developed a series of different customs and social conventions such as different political systems, different festivals, different ways of greeting, different views toward animals and different aesthetic concepts. When a trademark is to be marketed in another country, it must be adapted to the target social conventions and customs.

Chinese and English are very different from each other in all aspects. They have developed different idioms or phrases. There is a classic example of how different idioms and phrases can effect one's sales. "白象" is a famous trademark for battery, it carries a meaning of "purity"(白) and "strenth"(象). However, the word "白象" which means "a white elephant" in English has a different implication in western countries. In the west, "a white elephant" is a conventional phrase which refers to something useless or necessary. Therefore, the trademark of "白象" can never be translated directly into white elephant. A better option is that is can be translated into "brown lion" which carries an implication of strength and power.

It is known to us all that westerners have a opener character toward many things such as love than Chinese people do. Consequently, west trademarks are also more open and direct in expressing such things. For example, "Kiss Me" is considered to be a appropriate trademark for cosmetic, for it directly expresses women's pursuit and wish for love, thus arouses women's sympathetic responses in their inner hearts. However, Chinese people tend to have a more conservative and traditional concept toward such things as love and so on. In order to conform to the target customer's psychological custom, the trademark should not be translated into "吻我". Instead, it is translated as "奇士美" which implies the beauty(美) of women.

In Chinese history, 杜康is a very honourable person for he is the one who first invented wine, a kind of drink which has become part of Chinese people's life in history. Therefore, he is honored as the "god of wine" by Chinese people and there is also a trademark for wine named after him. However, when 杜康was introduced into the west, it was translated into Chinese pingying "Dukang" which failed to convey its traditional meaning to customers in the west. As a matter of fact, though China and western countries have different tales and traditions, there do exist an western version Chinese 杜康, namely, Bacchus who is the god of wine and fertility in Roman mythology. In this way, the trademark of Bacchus can bring about associations with wine and alcohol for westerners.

Beside all these mentioned above, there are still many differences in customs and social conventions which marketers should pay special attention to in trademark translation. For instance, the unit China and western countries use to measure the same thing may be well different from each other. Chinese people usually use such unit as "cm", "m", "kilometer", "kilogram" etc. While most western countries prefer to use such unit as "foot", "inch", "pound", "oz". Such differences in social conventions sometimes may cause difficulty in understanding and thus affect promotion in sales. Therefore, in some cases, such units should be replaced by those that are familiar to the target customers.

However, all these differences talked above are interrelated and no one can be replaced by one another. They are integrated as a whole and exert an joint influence rather than respective ones on trademark translation. Therefore, in the process of translating trademarks, marketers should take all these cultural aspects into consideration so as to work out a version that conforms to the target culture to the largest extent possible.