The light belongs to Yves Saint Laurent: Luxury beauty brands in translation

Juieta Alos, Sky Marsen, Noora Alkaabi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This paper examines the issues related to the translation into Arabic of international advertising campaigns, with particular reference to the luxury goods market in the Arabian Gulf area. Data selected from a corpus comprising 43 English-Arabic luxury cosmetics brochures is analyzed using concepts from discourse analysis and stylistics. Our results point to a tendency towards explicitation, evident mainly in the addition of cohesive devices and the avoidance of sentence fragments, beyond what is dictated by the grammatical and stylistic constraints of Arabic. Our data reveals a general translation preference to evade creative language choices in favor of more direct and explicit advertising messages. We argue that, contrary to Hofstede’s predictions as regards culturally-determined advertising styles, the tendency for precise and explicit messages that emerges in our Arabic data is suggestive of a low-context communication style. This translation approach is at odds with the principles of luxury advertising, which emphasize implicitness, distance, and ambiguity and view language as an extension of the creative process involved in the production of the luxury item. By highlighting the vital role of translation in cross-cultural brand communications, our study underlines the connection between the fields of translation studies and marketing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)434-451
    Number of pages18
    Issue number3
    Early online date2017
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017


    • advertising discourse
    • Arabic translation
    • creative language
    • explicitation
    • Luxury marketing


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