Exploring languages and cultures
Exploring languages and cultures

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Exploring languages and cultures

5.7.1 The skills of a transcreationist

As you have just learned, transcreation involves a complex range of skills. In the next activity you will examine a few examples illustrating the specific relevance each of these skills can have in the process of mediating culture through transcreation.

Activity 46

Read through the four further examples of transcreation shown below. Decide which skills and what knowledge the transcreationist needed in each case. (Note that each example of transcreation may have required more than one set of skills/knowledge.)

Example 1

Car maker Volkswagen is using its ‘Das Auto’ line worldwide. It highlights the fact that the cars come from Germany – a country known for high-quality engineering.

But in Brazil the strategy has backfired.

The VW Beetle was made there for decades, and the brand was seen as an ‘honorary Brazilian’. This was reflected in its previous slogan, ‘você conhece, você confia’ (‘you know, you trust’). By emphasizing its foreign-ness, VW threw away an emotional bond built up over many years.

By contrast, the German line was well received in Russia. Market research is crucial!

(Humphrey et al., 2011)

a. 

(a) Market awareness


b. 

(b) Linguistic knowledge


c. 

(c) Understanding of the history of the target culture


d. 

(d) Understanding of the target culture today


e. 

(e) Understanding of psychological factors


f. 

(f) Awareness of stereotypes


The correct answers are a, c, d and e.

Answer

The required skills are (a), (e) and, to a limited extent, (c) and (d). The transcreationist would have needed more market awareness, including some understanding of the trade history of Volkswagen in Brazil, as well an understanding of psychological factors governing trust in a product.

Example 2

Northern Ireland has a strong sectarian divide between Catholics and Protestants that does not exist elsewhere in the UK.

In 1690, Protestant King William of Orange defeated a Catholic army.

Ever since, orange has been a symbol of Protestantism.

Mobile network Orange had great success with the tagline ‘The future’s bright, the future’s Orange’ on the UK mainland, but this would not have gone down well with the Catholic population in Northern Ireland.

(Humphrey et al., 2011)

a. 

(a) Market awareness


b. 

(b) Linguistic knowledge


c. 

(c) Understanding of the history of the target culture


d. 

(d) Understanding of the target culture today


e. 

(e) Understanding of psychological factors


f. 

(f) Awareness of stereotypes


The correct answers are c and d.

Answer

A knowledge of the sectarian nature of Northern Irish society (d) and the history of Ireland (c) was needed to avoid a marketing disaster.

Example 3

Described image
Figure 14 ‘A pleasure in the mouth’

When Chinese shops first imported Coca-Cola in the 1920s, they wrote the name in Chinese characters.

Unlike our letters, Chinese characters have both a meaning and a sound.

The characters pronounced ‘Coca-Cola’ often had nonsensical meanings like ‘mare stuffed with wax’ or ‘bite the wax tadpole’. So for its official Chinese launch in 1928, the brand chose a different name: 可口可樂 (in original traditional form).

The pronunciation was only slightly different (‘Kokou-Kolay’), and it meant ‘a pleasure in the mouth’. It is a transcreation that is almost as successful as the brand behind it.

(Humphrey et al., 2011)

a. 

(a) Market awareness


b. 

(b) Linguistic knowledge


c. 

(c) Understanding of the history of the target culture


d. 

(d) Understanding of the target culture today


e. 

(e) Understanding of psychological factors


f. 

(f) Awareness of stereotypes


The correct answer is b.

Answer

Linguistic knowledge (b), including knowledge of phonology and the correlation between the written sign and its sound in Chinese, was needed to come up with this solution.

Example 4

Luxury French hotel brand Sofitel took a novel approach to creating a signature for use on the French and English versions of its website. Instead of creating one in English, and then having it transcreated into French, or vice-versa, they came up with ‘Life is Magnifique’.

The dual-language line works in both France and the UK, as the word ‘magnifique’ sounds similar enough to the English word ‘magnificent’ for it to be understood by the English audience, while the word ‘life’ is easy for French people to understand. Yet at the same time, the overall line has a certain feel of French elegance.

(Humphrey et al., 2011)

a. 

(a) Market awareness


b. 

(b) Linguistic knowledge


c. 

(c) Understanding of the history of the target culture


d. 

(d) Understanding of the target culture today


e. 

(e) Understanding of psychological factors


f. 

(f) Awareness of stereotypes


The correct answers are b, d and f.

Answer

The correct answers are (f), and also (b) and (d). The campaign was built on stereotypical views of the French as particularly elegant. The creator of this campaign also needed the cultural and linguistic knowledge to judge whether the code-switching in the slogan was easy to understand and would be received positively in both France and Britain.

L161_1

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