'Translated advertising can never be an adequate surrogate'

Shiloo Chattopadhyay of The Telegraph, Kolkata, writes how advertisements translated from other languages fail to achieve persuasion, even if they achieve comprehension:

The touch point for persuasion does not reside in the language but in what the language envelopes. A language is not merely the letters, the words and their grammar. It is the cultural DNA of a consumer world.

To a Bengali or an Oriya, to a Marathi or an Ohomiya, the soft points of titillation are rooted in their native culture encoded in their own language. Sure, the Hindi ad can do a reasonable approximation but it possibly can never do as great a job of persuasion in Bengal or Assam as it will do in UP or Bihar. Even in these days of satellite transmission, enticing someone still needs tribal idioms. Translated advertising thus can never be an adequate surrogate

Needless to say - ads translated from other languages such as English, Hindi, Tamil, Swahili and Zulu to Kannada simply don't serve the basic purpose. The further the language and culture of the original ad is from Kannada language and culture, the less the translation achieves. There are cases where neither comprehension nor persuasion are achieved.

Excuse us, but does Pamela Anderson's ad in the picture serve the intended purpose for a Kannadiga reader? What the hell do the words "hosa banna" hanging around a naked (yes, that's naked here in Karnataka) girl's navel mean? Amidst a people who worship food (which is already vegetarian on average) and women, what's a cabbage leaf doing around the private parts of a naked girl? What the hell is going on? This one has actually achieved neither the intended comprehension nor the intended persuasion. Kannadigas comprehend something different here, are persuaded to do something different here.

For those of you who have noticed, there's talk of a "Dhanteras" in the papers (both Kannada and English) in Karnataka now. What the hell is that, and why should Kannadigas part with their hard earned money on that crap pouring in from North India? And what the hell is a Chashmish, and why should I go to Titan Eye + for that (read ENGURU story below)?

Isn't it time some Kannadigas saw the point and started decent ad agencies which understand what it takes to pursuade Kannadigas? For one thing, there's lots of money in it. And for another, those agencies fight Hindi Imposition by way of making money. Lots of it.

For the full news item, read: Lost in translation from Hindi

Also read on ENGURU: ಹಿಂದೀನೇ ಕನ್ನಡ ಲಿಪಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದರೆ ಅದು ಕನ್ನಡ ಅನ್ನಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲ್ಲ


Clangorous said...

Forget Translation, I recently saw an ad on one of the 'Vaayu Vajra' Volvo to BIAL.. it was an ad for 'Britania' biscuits... it had Hindi written in English so that people who dont know to read hindi can also read...What do you think of such ads ? .. that too on a Government vehicle...The very people who should promote the langauge of the land is promoting the so called 'National Language' through english. Do we really need to make money out of such ads which are not even in the language of the majority ?... Also I saw another ad for some 'German' Drink on cunnigham road... even that had hindi written in English... Whatever happened to our honorable CM's decision to make sure all ads are represented even in Kannada other than English...Law is flouted in the open.. yet no one cares ..

Even the BBMP has 'Bangalore' instead of 'BengaLuru' in the english expansion of the short form... its written correctly only in the kannada expansion... Dont know what Kannada implementation will happen when the so called Govt departments are still slaving around to Bangalore than being represented rightly as BengaLuru. I guess they want only the locals to use the correct form and find it International to represent it as Bangalore.

Dont know if in my life time I would see all languages of our country being represented at the global level than projecting only Hindi as the language of the greater god

Qayyaam said...

People write Sankrit in Kannada and they say this is Kannada. But in reality, the Religious books in Kannada is actually brought to you by "Christians". The top selling religion of 20th Century Fox..
while Hindus take pride in their religion without knowing wats in their teachings.

dandapinda said...

Listen to the radio stations, TV and you will get an idea of how this can be done. The papers too add a word like 'namma' here and there and try to make it sound like Kannada. The madness has even caught the mind of Kannada movie makers.

All titles should carry a word or 2 from the 'Greatest Language' of the 'Greatest Democracy'.

All said it should not be so that we are very rigid. tumba maDivantike oLLedalla.

yarivanu said...

In Dhanteras they worship Yama for prosperity & well being??
Andre adondu Hindi devva Kannadigaranna metkollakke bartaide.

Obama said...

ad agencies? no man.. that'll be like doing business & know what Kannadigas are quite confident that they are no good at it. Dont persuade him plese, he seems to be very strong.

TeeteSubba said...

A software engineer in my company runs a Restaurant in a posh locality (part time business) & he earns at the very least Rs.75-80 thousand rupees. He sells biriyani veg & non veg.

Forget ad agencies.. are we looking down upon these kind of businesses or are we ashamed or i dont what.......

by the way that guys is definitely not a Kannadiga.

KIRAN JL said...


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