Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lost in translation?

Or just a cop-out because the word's subtle meanings are too hard to convey on an air freshener can?

I decide.

I'm not fluent in Spanish, but I know enough to know that this translation is a cop out. "Spring & renewal" is certainly a masterful stroke of marketing for the English language, and it works very well on this can of product. It sounds good, it sounds fresh, and who wouldn't want to be renewed every time they spritzed a bit of sweet smelling stuff into the air?

Overall, it sounds nice.

But "renewal" doesn't translate well into Spanish. The closest word to it is "renovaciĆ³n", and I get the feeling that the marketing types at Febreze felt that they couldn't put that word directly below the English word because it would remind English-speakers of home renovations (surely a stressful and dusty activity) rather than pleasant, fragrant renewals.

So they picked the best word they could come up with that conveys nice, pleasing scents. "Flores". Which means "flowers". It's a nice word, but it certainly doesn't mean "renewal". And I don't blame the marketers for choosing that word. Explaining in Spanish the exact concept of renewal would result in clunky phrases or long, letter-cluttered words (like "rejuvenecimiento"), and nobody wants that on their air freshener cans. They'd prefer to think of sweetly scented things, like flowers. And they certainly don't want to think too much about what it is they are supposed to be smelling.

So, Febreze Marketing Department, it is a translation cop out. I know that. But it is an understandable one, and I don't fault you for it.

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