Italian Translation of Consumer-Oriented Texts

Consumer-oriented texts are texts that have been written to win over prospective customers, provide customers with instructions on how to use a particular object, or advise the prospective customer on the pros and cons of objects they may want to buy. Consumer-oriented texts can take the form of advertisements, tourist brochures, user manuals, recipe books, CD booklets, public notices, information leaflets, etc. An ideological text like a political manifesto can also fall in the category of consumer-oriented texts because it is produced for the purpose of convincing and converting the reader to its own point of view.

Consumer-oriented texts incorporate in their subject matter the facts with the purpose of influencing and shaping the attitude of the reader. These texts, therefore, provide a good example of a hybrid genre; they are a blend of the features that characterize the empirical and persuasive generic categories. They may also show features of the literary, philosophical and religious genres. At times, their subject matter is specialized enough to be assigned to technical translators. Strategies for an Italian translation of consumer-oriented texts will have to respect the co-existence of multiple generic features and the particular purpose for which the text has been produced.

Among all the instances of consumer-oriented texts mentioned above, advertisements pose the greatest challenge for an Italian translator. That is definitely because of the pivotal role played by culture in advertising. A lot of cultural assumptions come into play in the creation of an advertisement, but they might not always be in the forefront. Effective advertisements will also employ local myths, history, art and humor. An Italian translator must identify these assumptions and adapt them to the target culture. He or she must bear in mind the fact that consumer needs vary across cultures, and advertising has to discover ways to appeal to these needs.

Stereotypical Consumers

The stereotype of consumers also varies from culture to culture. For example, American advertisements use rhetoric, which consists of a high-flowing language to win the confidence of the customer, while in Asia the technique consists of depending on more subtle effects and to appeal to a sense of connection between the customer and the company. Mistranslation of advertisements may cause great damage by killing off any possibility of the product’s commercial success. Italian translation or the translation of advertisements into any other language is therefore less a matter of adaptation than a matter of producing an original, and in practice multinational companies often prefer to produce specific advertisements to address specific cultures.

Italian translation of consumer-oriented texts demands skills akin to the ones the translator employs for any other translation. An Italian translator must be familiar with the target culture; he or she must be familiar with the needs and the character of the target consumer; he or she must study similar texts in the target culture in order to identify any patterns or structures and requirements that may exist. Based on these findings, an Italian translator must formulate a strategy for an Italian translation of consumer-oriented texts to appeal to the psyche of the target customer.

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