A Study of Cosmetic Brand Name Translation from Aesthetic Perspective
作者 :  李慧

  【Abstract】In the fierce market competition, more and more enterprises gradually realize the significance of a cosmetic brand name. The aesthetic principles are reflected in many aspects so as to understand and remember easily and arouse rich association and so on. This paper aims at analyzing the aesthetic principle reflected in cosmetic brand name translation. It analyzes the translation methods and values the importance of aesthetic principle.
  【Key words】Aesthetic Principle; Cosmetic brand name; Translation
  With the globalization of world economy, a great number of foreign cosmetics have been flooding into the Chinese market. Thus, there is an increasing urgent need for translation of cosmetic brand names. Brand name, a part of advertising, is helpful to promote the corporation image and stimulate consumption. A cosmetic brand name performs a number of key roles: it identifies the product or service, and allows the consumer to specify, reject, or recommend brands. Apart from being a commercial product, cosmetic brand name is also a piece of art due to its function to provide aesthetic entertainment to the consumers.
  Since brand name plays a crucial role in marketing activity, the translation of it has emerged for decades as business and culture communication among countries, which calls for aesthetic and high-information value, so aesthetic principle should be given high attention.
  1. Formation of Cosmetic Brand Names
  1.1 Personal Names
  Many foreign cosmetic brand names come from the names of a person. Using a person's name can create a sense of intimacy and will inspire the consumer to think about the image under that name. For example: American cosmetic “Anna Sui” has a long standing image of being a confident and elegant lady. When seeing this name, distance between the commodities and the consumers could be shortened while the sense of intimacy could be established. Other examples like: “Estee Lander”, “Pond's”, “羽西”, “大宝” etc.
  1.2 Place Names
  The cosmetic brand name may be the name of a village, town, or an area where the products were first produced or just the place where the company is located. Using a place's name can make the consumers associate the cosmetics with the credit of the noted place. VICHY, the world famous French cosmetic brand name is a good illustration of this case. Other examples like: “Biotherm”, “Evian”.
  1.3 Common Words
  Brand names employing the common words inject an affectionate personality into brand names and make it sound familiar to consumers. Products with these names possess the characteristics of these words or objects. For example, “美加净” can make your skin smooth and clean. “孩儿面” and “宝宝” indicates that it is for babies. Other examples like: “Safeguard”, “Pure&mild”.   1.4 Coinage Words
  When certain qualities, characteristics, functions are taken into consideration, there is a need for coinage words. Coinage words are new words created by shortening, compounding, blending, anagrammatic spelling and so on. For instance, “Amway” is short for “American Way (of life)”. “佰草集” suggests this kind of cosmetics is made from various Chinese traditional herbs. Other examples like: “May”, “ZA” etc.
  2. Introduction of Aesthetic principle
  A well-translated brand name will provoke consumer’s aesthetic association, attract them and inspire their needs, wants and demands. Aesthetic principle in form refers to basic reservation of the former cosmetic brand name form meanwhile the words used must be easy to read, understand and memorial. Aesthetic meaning indicated by brand name through word formation and associated vocabulary will surround consumers with enjoyment and light their imagination, and finally inspire their purchase intention.
  3. Requirements of CBNT (Cosmetic Brand Name Translation)
  3.1 Basic Requirements of CBNT
  Following golden rule of literal translation: plain in language, precise in words, easy to read aloud and memorial, brand name translation should be the same.(Hu&Chen,2000) A good brand name is an elaborately designed and exquisitely constructed bridge that can attract and bring consumers to the products or services under that brand name. When translating, factors like cultural similarity and cultural difference are needed to be taken into account. A good brand name should reflect certain attributes and characteristics of the commodity and inform the consumer of its effect, function, value, etc.
  3.2 Specific Requirements of Aesthetic Principle in CBNT
  3.2.1 Cultural Preferable Words
  Culture is intertwined with language. Translation of cosmetic brand name is actually a kind of communication across cultures since cosmetic brand names are translated into another language with different culture backgrounds. For example, a French cosmetic brand name “Clarins” is translated into Chinese as “娇韵诗”. First, these three Chinese characters combined help to pronounce similarly to the original brand name. Secondly and more importantly, the suggestive delivered by the translated name is much more sophisticated and profound in Chinese culture. “Nevia” into “妮维雅”, “Estee Lauder” into “雅诗兰黛” are such cases.
  3.2.2 Chinese Literary Works
  Some foreign companies have succeeded in making their translated brand names more Chinese by making full use of the images and allusions from Chinese literary works. Let us take the cosmetic brand “Revlon” as example. The culture-loaded translated version “露华浓” not only sounds very close to the pronunciation of the original brand, but also adapts to the Chinese consumers' psychology of admiration for the past. It can remind people of a poem by LiBai (云想衣裳花想容,春风拂槛露华浓) and subsequently, the image of the great beauty Yang Yuhuan (杨玉环) who is one of the four most beautiful women in China. The translator is so concerned with the Chinese history and people's admiration for the past that such an ideal translation is created.   3.2.3 Three Beauties
  3.2.3.1 Form Beauty
  Form beauty requires the translated brand names are brief and symmetrical in form. Consumers will be undoubtedly pleasantly impressed by a brand name with form beauty. For example, “Kisskiss” is translated into “亲亲”. The original brand name itself is a repetition, the translation not only keeps the pattern in symmetric beauty but also convey the intimate feeling concomitant with commodity. “Aqua” into “雅呵雅” is the same case.
  3.2.3.2 Sound Beauty
  Sound beauty means that the sound and the sound structure of translated brand names should be properly arranged, varied and coordinated with each other. Rhetoric devices such as alliteration, rhythming, assonance, consonance and repetition are employed to create sound beauty. For example, brand name “Clean&Clear” is translated into “可伶可俐”. Words “伶” and “俐” have the same consonant “L” in Chinese and the repetition of words “可” create a beautiful rhythm which in all make this brand name sound nicely and easy to remember.
  3.2.3.3 Image Beauty
  When translating foreign cosmetic band names into Chinese, the translator should choose meaningful and popular words with beauty to indicate the emotion in a tangible and colorful way. For example, “Maybelline”, is nicely translated as “美宝莲”,which highly praised for its wonderful and feminine connotations. The translated name has not only delivered the aesthetic meaning but also retained the similarity of the original sound. “美” in Chinese means pretty and beautiful. And “莲” is often used to describe women's tenderness and beauty and has been used as metaphors of beautiful women. Under the favorable connotations brought out by flowers, some English cosmetic brand names are translated by containing the name of flowers: “Kao” into “花王”, “Dove” into “多芬”, etc.
  4. Methods of Cosmetic Brand Name Translation
  4.1 Transliteration
  Transliteration is the practice of converting a text from one writing system into another, often in a systematic way. Transliteration represents the sound, rather than the meaning (translation), of a word in a language written using different characters. Accordingly, some foreign cosmetic brand names are deliberately transliterated so that the translated Chinese brand names sound more foreign and cater to Chinese consumer's general preference. For example: “Channel” into “香奈尔”, “Kose” into “高丝”.
  4.2 Literal Translation
  Literal translation attempts to render, as closely as the semantic and syntactic structure of the second language only, the exact contextual meaning of the original. This method is used under the condition that the cultural schema in both languages are identical or similar. Such is the case for “Covergirl” into “封面女孩”, “Colorzone” into “色彩地带”.   4.3 The Combination of Transliteration and Literal Translation
  The combination of transliteration and literal translation can be often used when cosmetic brand names can find the correspondences having the similar sounds and the relevant meanings in the target language. The examples are: Olay(玉兰油), The Face Shop(菲丝小铺).
  4.4 Zero Translation
  As the Chinese market is expanding so fast, more and more cosmetic brands not bothering to have them translated. They do this to ensure their brand names sound more exotic to Chinese consumers. “SK-II”, “VOV”, “Up2U”, “DHC”, “FANCL”, “H2O” are typical examples. H2O as a world-wide chemical formula, it is easy for the ladies to understand and identify the internal beauty, that is, the poetical meaning that a woman is made of water. It is perfect in indicating the function and quality of these products.
  4.5 Choice of Rhythms and Tones
  4.5.1 Choice of Rhythms
  There is a preference in Chinese characters to use disyllabic word. Chinese brand names tend to use disyllabic words pattern, in which “双声” (two syllables with the same initial and different finals) and “叠韵” (two adjacent syllables share the same final but have different initial) can be employed to enhance the sound beauty. Examples are: “Lux” into “力士”,“Swissline” into “雪肌丽”.
  4.5.2 Choice of Tones
  Chinese is a typical tone language. As for cosmetic brand names, one basic principle is the brand names must be as sonorous as possible. In order to sound beautiful and rhythmic, the level tones and the oblique tones are often used together. Examples are: “Secret Wish” into “许愿精灵”, “Forever and Ever” into “情系永恒”.
  5. Conclusion
  For a successful brand name translation, it should be meaningful and also have aesthetic associations. As the above examples show, brand names composed of beautiful form, beautiful sound, beautiful image and culture-loaded Chinese words can give women consumers an artistic enjoyment and an aspiration to buy the product as well.
  References:
  [1]毛荣贵.翻译美学[M].上海:上海交通大学出版社,2005.
  [2]隋荣谊,李锋平.翻译美学初探[J].外语与外语教学,2007,11: 54-57.

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