Advertising Translation from Chinese to English with a Functionalist Approach

2019-05-28 版权声明 举报文章

[摘 要] Functionalist translation theories advanced by some German scholars in the 1970s has opened up a new perspective to translation studies. It regards translation as an action which has a certain skopos.The main concepts of functionalist approaches have significantly meaning to advertising translation. This paper takes functionalist translation theories as a theoretical frameworkd, discussing the application of functionalist approaches to Chinese to English advertising translation.

[关键词] Functionalist Approaches, advertising translation, strategies of translation

【中图分类号】 H315.9 【文献标识码】 A 【文章编号】 1007-4244(2013)07-111-3

1. An Introduction to Functionalist Translation Theories

In 1960s, Eugene A. Nida put forward the theory of dynamic equivalence, and gave the definition like this, “translation consists in reproducing in receptor language the closest natural equivalence of the source-language message”. Peter Newmark attempted to ascribe translation into the category of semantics study. These linguistic approaches basically saw translation as a code-switching operation.

Functionalist translation theories were put forward by some German scholars in the 1970s, and were intended to break with linguistic theory and bridge the gap between theory and practice. In 1971 Katharina Reiss develops a new model of translation criticism based on the functional relationship between source and target texts in her book Possibilities and Limits of Translation Criticism, which may be regarded as the starting points for the scholarly analysis of translation in Germany.

In 1978, German scholar Hans Vermeer made a breakthrough by putting forward his famous Skopostheorie which is regarded as the landmark of functionalist approach to translation. The top-ranking rule for any translation is thus the Skopos rule “which says that a translational action is determined by its Skopos, that is, the end justifies the means”.

Christiane Nord put forward a new function-plus loyalty model as a complement to Skopos theory, function referring to the factors that make a target text work in the intended way in the target situation.

2. The purpose and main functions of advertisements

As a marketing tool, advertising presents the sales information to a large group of people known as the target audience by various media and motivates them to make a purchase. Advertising is communicative. It uses verbal and non-verbal elements to present the information about products, services and ideas to influence and persuade people to make choices and at last take some actions, especially to purchase the products and services.In a narrow sense, advertisements have two main functions. They are functions of conveying information, and persuasion.

4.2.1 Adaptation to the Linguistic Features of English Advertising

We know that the function and purpose of translation are selling the products and offering services for the company. In order to achieve this goal, translation needs to be accepted by the target language readers. Therefore, the translation should conform to the linguistic features of advertising English at first. The following examples are listed to illustrate this point.


Ready to meet guests from all over the world,

Ready to speed them on their way.

This is an advertisement for one company of Tianjin. But the translation is not acceptable to English audience. The words “guests”, “them” and “their” make the audience feel that there is a wide gap between the company and the consumers. In English advertising, the second personal pronouns “You” and “Your” are often used. They have a strong persuasive force and are more acceptable to the audience. The use of these words can shorten the distance between the company and the consumers psychologically and stress the audience’s individual uniqueness. Then the translation can be improved as:

Ready to meet you from all over the world

Ready to speed you on your way.

In some Chinese advertising, the sentences are very long and complicated. There are many adjectives to modify one noun. But English advertising prefers to use simple, short sentences to express the meaning briefly and clearly. So, for the purpose of being persuasive, some parts in Chinese advertising should be omitted when translating into English.


FARENCOL was founded in May, 1945, with a history of over 40 years. It has established business relations all over the world. FARENCOL is a comprehensive transportation business specialized in shipping.

This is a typical Chinese advertising and certainly is acceptable among Chinese audience. But when translated into English, this long sentence has been changed into three short sentences and the words “具有丰富经验,享有良好信誉“ in the original text have been omitted to cater to the English audience, because they care about the evidence rather than these oral words.

On the whole, English advertising has some obvious linguistic features. If a translator can take the English linguistic features into consideration, the translation is easier to be accepted by English audience. Thus, functions of advertising will be better realized.




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