Cultural Limitations

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Walter Benjamin once said: “It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his recreation of that work”. This is surely not as easy as it sounds. Translation is hard enough process as it is, and when combined with the concepts of advertisement, the process gets even more complicated. The problems associated with the translation of advertisements from English to Arabic languages are many, starting with the difficulty to keep the advertisement essence in both languages, difficulty to stay within the boundaries of a different culture’s social and cultural limitations and the difficulty to translate in a way where the advertisement…show more content…
Advertisements rely most of the time on sharp concepts related to the country where the ad is originated from. Arab countries in particular have many cultural limitations that stand in the way of accepting some messages in certain advertisements. As an example, many of the English advertisements that are famous in Europe and USA are based on sexual concepts. They play on the irony and the context of the ad in a way that relies on sexual ideas. This may be strongly rejected when an ad is translated to Arabic and viewed by Arabs. The sexual contexts may not be suitable to the cultural standards of the Arab countries as they may be using social and cultural taboos of the country. Other issues are religious, political and economic. Those create an invisible barrier to the marketing ideas embedded in the advertisement. Religious barriers for instance, are the strongest to stand in the way of the success of those campaigns. So it is not acceptable in Arab countries to translate an English ad to the Arabic language while neglecting the whole content of the religion they follow in those countries. In addition, some Arab countries may consider that using their language in ads that neglect their social and religious standards sends a tainted imagine about them across the world. Many may feel that the usage of the language can be an indirect presentation of the morals and life standards of the people from this origin. As another example on this, using a naked woman or one with little cloths on may be very normal according to the American culture, while this may create disasters in Saudi Arabia where the Arabic language is used as well.. Other simpler items different than sexual boundaries can also be barriers for such campaigns. Using ham in a food campaign is something against the Saudi Arabia

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