Marketing Translation Class n°3 – Translating “Marketing”
Marketing Translation – How To Translate The Term Marketing
The definition of marketing on the online Business Dictionary says this: “Marketing is the management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer.” (source)
Why should a translator bother understanding what marketing is instead of simply translate marketing or keep the English term? Because understanding the concept is the only way to express it properly in other languages.
It is true that most of the time Italian and other languages use the English word, but I also know that this word means really nothing to non-English speakers. It’s a loan word, and as such we’ve learn to put up with it, but it doesn’t recall something familiar to most people.
To understand how to translate “marketing” we need to transfer the whole concept of marketing into our language. Maybe there are similar analyses in other languages. I didn’t find them, so if you know some please write the source in the comments; it would be really interesting.
Marketing as a word does not exist in my language as it doesn’t exist in many other languages. Why? Because Marketing is an American invention. In the same way, you don’t find an English word to say pizza, because it is an Italian invention. As English adopted the word pizza because an English equivalent didn’t exist, so did Italian with the word marketing, adopting the English term because we didn’t have an exact translation.
That said, if I really want to use an Italian definition, how can I translate marketing?
I usually choose from a set of options:
- Promozione: this is, in my opinion, the most correct translation. It means to promote, and this is basically what marketing is. It is limiting though, and if in English they say marketing instead of promoting there is a reason.
- Pubblicizzazione: it means advertising. Advertising is surely part of a marketing strategy, but it is not the only one.
- Commercializzazione: literally, commercialization, namely to make money out of something, mainly by sales. Yes, this is the general goal of marketing, but sometimes marketing aims to increase brand awareness, and not directly to sell.
- Diffusione: literally, diffusion. I found this suggestion on Proz.com (source) and it might work in some contexts, for example if the text talks about the diffusion of a message, but it really depends.
- Mercatistica and Mercatologia: surprisingly, Hoepli gives the option “mercatistica” (source) while according to Treccani it can be translated with mercatologia. (source)
I really beg non-Italian speakers not to use these last two terms, although they come from highly respected dictionaries: they are old fashioned and very, very odd.
- piazzare sul mercato: on Wikipedia, instead, you read “Marketing significa letteralmente “piazzare sul mercato” e comprende quindi tutte le azioni aziendali riferibili al mercato destinate al piazzamento di prodotti o servizi, considerando come finalità il maggiore profitto e come causalità la possibilità di avere prodotti capaci di realizzare tale operazione finanziaria. (source)
- smercio: a very funny translation I would have never thought about comes from dicios.com. “Smercio” is almost as funny as mercatistica or mercatologia.
- analisi dei mercati: always on dicios.com, marketing is translated as “analisi dei mercati”, literally “markets analysis”. Although it is true that the analysis is a very important phase of marketing, using this word to render “marketing” means giving 30% of its meaning.
I found this analysis really useful. The variety of translations offered in Italian makes clear the confusion around the term. I found 8 possible terms, and only because I decided to stop. I could have quoted more. How do you translate “marketing” in your language? Is the term translated or do you usually use the English term?
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