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Torresi, Ira (2010). Translating Promotional and Advertising Texts.

St. Jerome, 200 pp. GBP 25.00. ISBN: 978 1 905763 20 7.


he studies in the area of the translation of advertising have recently gained relative importance within the field, with a number of titles that have seen the light during the past ten years in different formats and scope (among others, Bueno García: 2000; Corpas Pastor et al. 2002; Adab et al.: 2004; M. Guidère: 2000, 2001, 2003; Valdés Rodríguez: 2004; Lorenzo and Pereira: 2004; Dávila-Montes: 2008).

While this volume covers a series of aspects that had been generally or particularly described by these previous publications to different degrees of insight and detail, its release is especially welcomed for a number of reasons, being not the least important of them the fact that it is the first full-fledged comprehensive study on the translation of advertising that has been published in English. The consequences that this entails, as far as dissemination is concerned, are not negligible and may provide one of the first stepping stones for a much needed academic exchange on the topic across and beyond the different national schools in the field. The translation of advertising challenges many pre-established assumptions in Translation Theory (Munday: 2004) and opens—if not demands—new avenues for radical interdisciplinarity (Dávila: 2008) that need to be brought to the forum of academic debate.

Consistent with the nature of the book series (Translation Practices Explained), and based on specific case examples out of the professional world, Torresi chooses a function/client oriented approach for her analyses, with an intense focus on the textual aspects of translation and touching only slightly on the graphical dimension. Along these lines, the book is divided in eight chapters, of which four—the core of this work—consist of an insightful analysis of 4 different categories of promotional texts: self-promotion (ranging from Curricula Vitae to personal web pages), business to business (from company brochures and web pages to specialised advertising), institutional (promotional texts for institution-users/citizens and, also, between institutions) and finally, what is frequently identified most directly with advertising par excellence: business to consumer.

In every one of these chapters, the author successfully dissects several examples (mostly between English and Italian, but also in other language pairs) in an enlightening way. Each chapter provides a very didactical overview of both the general characteristics of every type of text and also of the translation strategies worth considering for them—again, a hint of the clearly functionalist take on the topic—. The book furnishes sensible general guidelines on how to approach the translation of these text types—which make of it a valuable tool for didactical purposes—, altogether without condoning to neither minute nor overarching prescriptive statements.

Before these four 'analytical' chapters, the author explores the general nature of promotional texts, and signals the "information-to-persuasion ratio" as one of the relevant factors of promotional language. Welcomed as this concept is, the eminently practical approach of this work probably does not allow for an in-depth elaboration of this notion, which is assumed in a rather unproblematic way, its detection and understanding relegated to sheer intuitive expertise.

While this unproblematic assumption does very well describe the operational savoir-faire of the professional practice, it claims for further empirical elaboration or for theoretical support and it also becomes a pointer to the epistemological limitations of function-oriented theories. The choice of the mathematical term "ratio" seems not in order when establishing the relationship between parameters (informativeness, creativity and persuasiveness) that demand further critical elaboration.

The book concludes with a brief, final chapter on the translation of persuasion across cultures. This chapter summarises the commendably cautious tone of the book, which at all times allows for every reasonable leeway in how particular cultural traits among specific language pairs may alter any general, non language pair-specific assumption, such as the degree of authoritativeness that different cultures tolerate or expect from institutions, or the acceptable balance between formality and creativity that is allowed in, for example, job application letters. A safeguard, then, against any possible overgeneralization, this final chapter provides in turn a handful of illustrative examples about the intricate relationship existing between culturally-bound worldviews and rhetorical traditions—and the interesting translation problems derived henceforth. Also, the scarce seven pages of this chapter constitute, by virtue of their sheer succinctness, an ostensible claim to the need within the field for an enhanced exchange on the topic, about which most publishing has taken place in languages other than English.

  • Adab, Beverley y Cristina Valdés Rodriguez (2004). "Key Debates in the Translation of Advertising Material." The Translator 2 (10). Manchester: St Jerome, 161-178.
  • Bueno García, Antonio (2000). Publicidad y traducción. Soria: Diputación Provincial de Soria.
  • Corpas Pastor, Gloria, Adela Martínez García, Mª Carmen Amaya Galván (eds) (2002). En torno a la traducción-adaptación del mensaje publicitario. Málaga: Universidad de Málaga.
  • Dávila-Montes, José (2008). La traducción de la persuasión publicitaria. Lewiston, Nueva York: Edwin Mellen.
  • Guidère, Mathieu (2000). "Aspects de la traduction publicitaire." Babel 46 (1). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 20-40.
  • Guidère, Mathieu (2001). "Translating Practices in International Advertising." Translation Journal 1 (5). Online at: (consulted 17.05.2010)
  • Guidère, Mathieu (2003). "The Translation of Advertisements: from Adaptation to Localization." Online at: (consulted 17.05.2010)
  • Katan, David (2004 [1999]). Translating Cultures. Manchester: Saint Jerome.
  • Munday, Jeremy (2004). "Advertising: Some Challenges to Translation Theory." Beverley Adab and Cristina Valdés Rodriguez (eds). Key Debates in The Translation of Advertising Material. The Translator 2 (10). Manchester: St Jerome, 179-220.
  • Valdés, Cristina (2004). La traducción publicitaria: comunicación y cultura. Barcelona: Bellaterra, Castellón y Valencia: Servicios de Publicaciones de las Universidades Pompeu Fabra, Autónoma de Barcelona, Jaume I y Valencia.

José Davila, University of Texas at Brownsville/Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.