Competitive Advantage Translation – Marketing Translation Class n°2
How to Translate Competitive Advantage
Competitive advantage translation. “Competitive advantage” is a widely used business term. According to Michael Porter, who founded the theory of competitive advantage in 1985, “A competitive advantage exists when the firm is able to deliver benefits that exceed those of competing products (differentiation advantage).” (source)
Similarly, according to Investopedia, competitive advantage is “an advantage that a firm has over its competitors, allowing it to generate greater sales or margins and/or retain more customers than its competition. There can be many types of competitive advantages including the firm’s cost structure, product offerings, distribution network and customer support.” (source)
There seems to be two main accepted translations into Italian:
“vantaggio competitivo” and
Many Italian marketers and financial experts prefer the first competitive advantage translation: “vantaggio competitivo”, as I found after a bit of research. The term is the literal translation of the English term, so it is no surprise that it is the most widely used.
“Vantaggio concorrenziale” is also used, but I didn’t find as many resources using this term as the ones using “vantaggio competitivo”.
I find that both these two terms do not fully explain the concept. They are, I would say, pretty much “source oriented” (as a reminder, a “source oriented” translation means a translation closer to the source text reference system, in this case, English)
The first time I heard about “vantaggio concorrenziale” it left me wondering what it was supposed to mean. It was only after looking up to the English definition that I understood the Italian meaning. This feeling of not grasping the meaning is a clear sign that the term has been imported, and not created in Italian. As I mentioned at the beginning, it has been created by Michael Porter, professor at Harvard.
If I had to define the concept in Italian without knowing the English definition, I would probably say: “vantaggio rispetto ai concorrenti” or “elemento di vantaggio”, which sounds more native Italian.
Nothing prevents translators from using the literal translation since it is easy and correct, but they should keep in mind that it often gives the reader a feeling of unfamiliarity. If the aim of the translator is to be accurate, literal translation is the good solution. If, however, the aim is to make the reader feel familiar with the text we offer him/her, then the literal translation misses the goal.
The beauty of translation is challenging our mind to think out of the box and find new solutions. Moreover, the flexibility of languages gives us endless possibilities to play with words.
You might also like: