Publication details [#13025]

Smith, Karen. 2006. Rhetorical figures and the translation of advertising headlines. Language and Literature 15 (2) : 159–182.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language


In advertising texts, the most important linguistic element is the headline. The function of the headline is to persuade readers to continue reading the remaining body text and, ideally, buy the advertised product. Using a corpus of 45 English-language advertisements and their translated Russian pairs, this article investigates what happens to rhetorical figures in the translation process. Three broad translation strategies are identified (transference, source-language-orientated and target-language-orientated) and their implications discussed in detail. The use of transference (untranslated retention of original) highlights the foreignness of the product being advertised, relying on the source culture’s attractiveness to the target audience. The most popular strategies are those which are source-language-orientated, maintaining the source meaning in the target headline. These strategies, often resulting from advertisers’ insistence on following a model advertisement, have the greatest impact on the use of figures, and examples of compensation, loss and addition can be found. When target-language-orientated strategies are employed, translators have more freedom to create headlines using rhetorical figures. The article ends by suggesting that the analysis of translated Russian advertising headlines offers another concrete example of the globalizing tendencies of large corporations and the power they exercise in shaping contemporary media discourses.
Source : Abstract in journal