People Laughing 2020

Don’t Let Humorous Marketing Get Lost in Translation

by Chad Richardson

June 30, 2020

Everyone can think of a commercial or advertisement that has made them laugh or smile. Humor, especially shared humor can make us feel like we’re enjoying something together, and that warm feeling can carry over into good thoughts about the associated products. But what happens when the joke gets lost in translation? At best, it can result in confusion and a missed opportunity, at worst, negative associations and even distrust or disliking a product or company. Professional translation services can help you avoid such pitfalls.

Difficulties of Translating Marketing Humor

In so many cases, what’s funny changes from culture to culture, so advertising that relies on that cultural knowledge will usually fall flat in translation. Even more difficult to deal with is humor that relies on wordplay, since the words must obviously change between languages. Using a computer translator won’t help, because it will almost always provide a literal translation, utterly lacking in the humor of the original. This is especially true for wordplay like puns where the play on words is what makes it fun and memorable. Adding in cultural sensitivity and an awareness of what’s generally considered funny is necessary to translate humor successfully.

How Professional Translation Can Help

Professional translators can examine the end result of the advertisement and work backwards to create an appropriate equivalent rather than attempting an exact translation. They pay attention to the nuances and subtleties of the languages so the meaning and intent of the message is carried through. Translation for marketing, among other areas, is more than just getting the words right. Marketing copy needs to carry the feel of the original and evoke the same response in multiple languages and across cultures. 

If you’re looking for assistance in translating your marketing materials, we can help. Contact us today to see how we can work together. 

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