Translations are not engaging.

Or so I learned during my various studies on the relationship between language and culture.

And honestly, I’d always agreed with it simply based on my own experience. I knew that if I wanted to say something in Spanish to have the same meaning and importance as it did in English, I would have to do more than translate. I needed to include certain cues. I needed to show a different perspective on the topic.

After I finished my research though, I put these ideas aside since I still haven’t been able to build a proper career path. (Yes, I’m part of the negative statistics of college graduates.) I’ve continued to work as a sales associate waiting for an opportunity to grow in a company that wants to learn about the potential of diversity and communication.

Today, however, I was reminded of why I was so passionate about this subject. I stumbled upon an advertisement for Halloween Horror Nights 25 (en español), or so it was titled. I had been skeptical to watch the advertisement that showed up in English. I honestly thought it was a summary of last year’s event and since I’d already watched small snippets from other videos, it seemed unnecessary.

Nevertheless, I watched the clip for the Spanish advertisement and as I was watching it, I couldn’t help but get a feeling that it was rehearsed. It just didn’t seem genuine and didn’t seem to add any excitement. Honestly, when the man explained that “people like getting scared and that’s why they go to HHN” I couldn’t help but do a mental face-palm. I think people are aware of this? No?

I can’t say I learned anything useful about the event from watching the video. Waste of advertisement efforts towards Hispanics? In my personal opinion: yes. Translation is not enough.

Companies need to start being aware of the importance of culture. What might work for an American, will not work for a Hispanic. If both cultures were the same, they wouldn’t be separated. Language is more than words. It embodies a culture. It should be treated as such.

I shouldn’t be able to watch the English version and literally be repeated the same exact message as the one in Spanish. Cultural differences need to be taken into account.

If your bilingual, next time you see an ad, ask yourself: who is this ad meant for? What values does it represent? Is it being stereotypical? Or is it simply gibberish that has already been discussed?

At least, that’s my plan as I’m going back to learning more about diversity and communications.

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