Abstract



This paper presents a statistical and textual analysis of translations into French of some advertising messages appearing on the packages of over ten randomly selected products from the food and agriculture industry. The products considered for the study are either made in Nigeria or marketed by Nigerian multinationals. The paper critically explores the information contained in these messages, grouping them under three categories: (1) information on the proprieties and virtues of the product, (2) information on the manufacturer’s expertise and on use mode and (3) pure sloganeering. From this categorization, the paper shows the parts of the advertising messages that are preferably translated and infers the percentage of translation both for each product and generally. In its analysis, the paper indicates that the translations of these advertising messages are highly selective, covering over 53.8% of the notional content of the message in the source language and generally giving a greater importance to information bordering on the proprieties and virtues (benefits) of the product on promotion. The paper argues that the reduction to more than 40% of the notional content of the advertising messages in the target language theoretically and automatically reduces the potentials of the translations to inform and persuade the public in the target language as efficiently as their versions in the source language. The paper further analyses the recurrence of translational errors in the messages in the target language, and argues that these errors further reduce the informative and persuasive potentials of these advertising messages and tend naturally to indicate both translational difficulties and the alarming phenomenon of charlatanism ridden the translation profession in Nigeria.