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How to translate culture-specific items: a case study of tourist promotion campaign by Turespaña

Isabel Cómitre Narváez, University of Málaga
José María Valverde Zambrana, University of Málaga


One of the greatest challenges for the translator is the rendering of culture-specific items ─ traditionally regarded as a potential source of untranslatability. Many scholars have discussed this issue and different approaches have been described within the discipline of Translation Studies. The paper focuses on the translation of culture-specific items in tourist promotion campaigns, demonstrating how these items call for specific translation treatment. The material for analysis has been sourced directly from the Instituto de Turismo de España (Turespaña), the Spanish Tourist Board, and specifically the international tourist promotion campaign, Spain marks, where culture-specific items are used as a sales argument to promote Spain worldwide as a tourist destination. In the present study, we will review the literature concerning cultural aspects within the framework of Translation Studies. Then, we will examine the procedures for translating culture-specific items in the Spanish source texts and their corresponding English versions of the campaign. A short survey will shed light on the success of the Spain marks campaign. The paper concludes with some remarks about the role of the translator in the field of tourist promotion campaigns.


Tourist promotion campaign, culture-specific items, translation procedures.

1. Introduction

In the increasingly cross-cultural world we live in, translators and interpreters are seen as mediators between cultures. In this mediation task, they are likely to come across words that have a specific meaning in each culture so that biculturalism is an important asset for translators (Nord, 1991). Tourism is one of the most important sectors of the Spanish economy and a sector which is, by nature, multicultural. As tourist texts are concerned, the mediator’s task involves awareness of cultural differences in order to reach the potential tourist. Valdeón García (2009:48) points out that “biculturalism becomes a must since a sound knowledge of the source and target cultures contributes to the production of more effective texts.” Valdeón García’s studycovers some of the key difficulties in the case of info-promotional material.  The selection of texts from the Principality of Asturias reveals that translations fail to fulfil the communicative function of advertising texts because of overlong information. Durán Muñoz (2008:31) emphasises the mediation role of translators too and defines tourism translation as “a mediation tool:”

Tourism is an activity which involves the direct contact between cultures and all that this includes (folklore, customs, gastronomy, etc.) and therefore, tourism language is considered here as a joint element between tourists and the place they are visiting and their cultures Durán Muñoz (2008:31).

The author believes that the mediator’s task involves a great deal of linguistic and cultural challenges. Emphasising the informative and persuasive functions of tourist texts, Kelly (1997:34) underlines that translation in the tourist sector must be oriented beyond the needs of the target audience:

Tourism (in the widest sense) is a sector in which a great deal of translation work is carried out. It is often the case that visitors to a town, region or country receive their first impression from a translation of some sort, be it a tourist brochure, an information leaflet, a sign or a guide book.[...]It is true that tourist texts often do require considerable "adaptation," situating the activity of tourist translation close to that nebulous border existing in theory between translation and rewriting [...] The ideal solution would perhaps be to produce specific texts for each target culture Kelly (1997:34).

Following many scholars such as Séguinot (1995), Kelly (1997, 2000, 2005), Calvi (2000), Guidère (2001), Schäffner (2001), Adab and Valdés Rodriguez (2004), Fuentes Luque (2005), Nobs Federer (2006), Postigo Pinazo and Tejedor Martínez (2007), De Pedro Ricoy (2007), Montes Fernández (2007), Durán Muñoz (2008, 2009, 2012), Bugnot (2009), Valdeón García (2009), Bernabeú López and Rocamora Abellán (2010) and Mariottini (2012) and Agorni (2012). These are relevant references in the tourist sectors, where cultural aspects have a commercial purpose in promotion campaigns: adversting a country’s cultural offering. According to Martínez and Iñigo (1999: 153):

Cultural terms in tourist leaflets have as an essential function: to characterize the subject dealt with, be a city, a region or a country. Moreover, they contribute to transference of information and to an exact description. (Authors’ translation.)

For a better understanding of the translation of cultural aspects in tourist promotion campaigns, we will first review the literature concerning cultural aspects in translation. Then, we will describe the Spain marks tourist promotion campaign by Turespaña and analyse translation procedures found in the Spanish texts as well as the English versions and, finally, we will comment a short survey of English mother-tongue speakers in relation to the degree of success of Spain marks campaign.

2. Cultural aspects in Translation Studies

Cultural aspects have received different denominations in Translation Studies. Nida (1945) speaks about cultural foreign words.” The concept of “cultureme” originally introduced by Oksaar (1988), retaken by Reiss and Vermeer (1984/1996), Nord (1997) and revisited by Katan (2009). Newmark (1991) prefers “cultural terms.” In 1970, Vlakhov and Florín coined the term realia. In 1981, Nida and Reyburn, introduced a wider concept that they call “presuppositions.” Baker (1992, 1995) labels them “culture-specific concepts.Foreman (1992) uses the term “cultural references” which does not limit itself to the lexicon marked culturally, but it allows the inclusion of symbols, icons, gestures, etc. Scholars keep on extending the diversity of denominations introducing “cultural bumps(Leppihalme 1995), “culturally marked segments” (Mayoral and Muñoz 1997), “culture-bound references,” “culture-specific items” (Franco Aixelà 1996), (Nedergaard-Larsen 2003), Ceramella (2008) and Valdéon García (2009).

For the present study, we will adopt Franco Aixelà’s terminology “culture-specific item” (CSI from now on) which he defines as follows (1996:58):
Those textually actualised items whose function and connotations in a source text involve a translation problem in their transference to a target text, whenever this problem is a product of the non-existence of the referred item or of its different intertextual status in the cultural system of the readers of the target text.

This definition embraces not only the CSI on itself as a translation challenge but also its function in the text, its perception by the target culture and its acceptability, variables that we consider relevant as far as tourist promotion is concerned.

Regarding the translation of CSIs, scholars have provided various repertoires of translation procedures to compensate for the lack of equivalence. Vlakhov and Florín (1970) suggest six procedures for translating realia: transcription, calque, formation of a new word, assimilation, approximative translation and descriptive translation. According to Newmark (1988/1992:145), there are many procedures such as loan translation or calque, transference, cultural equivalent, neutralisation, literal translation, accepted standard (or recognised) translation, naturalisation, addition, deletion, etc. The Hervey and Higgins’ model (1992) gives a four degree classification for culture-specific items which the authors label as degrees of “cultural transposition” (exoticism, calque, cultural borrowing, communicative translation and cultural transplantation). Franco Aixelà (1996) places translation procedures in a scale from conservation (repetition, orthographic adaptation, linguistic (non-cultural) translation, extratextual and intratextual gloss) to substitution (synonymy, limited universalisation, absolute universalisation, naturalisation, deletion and autonomous creation). Mayoral and Muñoz (1997) offer an inventory of translation techniques that consists of established translation, validated translation, functional translation, borrowing, paraphrasing, combination of resources, omission and creation. Katan (1999:87) only distinguishes three main translation strategies: generalisation, deletion and distortion. Kwieciński (2001) proposes exoticising, recognised exoticisation, rich explicatory and assimilative procedures. As Ramière points out (2006:3); “scholars do not agree on the number of procedures available to translators, or on to label them.”

For the purpose of this work, we examined the translation procedures used for CSIs in the context of tourist promotion material and we found many of the procedures referred above. In different works taken into account in this study, such as Nord (1991), Kelly (1997), Payo Peña (2002), De la Cruz Trainor (2004), Fuentes Luque (2005), Bugnot (2006), Herrezuelo Campos (2008), Valdéon García (2009) and Durán Muñoz (2012), the use of translation procedures as retention, exoticism, borrowing, literal translation, description, explanation, condensation, deletion, omission, generalisation and adaptation is frequent. In general, all scholars agree on the importance of the CSIs functions in the texts, the communicative situation and the target culture expectations. Before showing the results of our descriptive study, let us describe the professional practice as far as tourist promotion is concerned.

3. The Spain marks campaign
3.1. Creative process

The Instituto de Turismo de España (Turespaña), the Spanish Tourist Board, is the administrative unit of the Spanish Central Government in charge of promoting Spain worldwide as a tourist destination through a network of 33 Tourist Offices of Spain. The Spanish Tourist Board covers the following areas, as it is stated on its website:

Planning, development and execution of activities aimed at promoting Spain as a tourism destination in the international markets.
Support of the marketing of Spanish tourism products abroad in cooperation with the regional and local authorities and the private sector.
Establishing the strategy, plan of action and investments for new establishments of Paradores de Turismo de España S.A. (Author’s translation).

In 2002-2003, Turespaña launched its most innovative tourist promotion campaign ever: “Spain marks.” Each advertisement of the campaign showed a different aspect of Spain, using striking images. The “Spain marks” campaign was targeted at seventeen markets in ten languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Finnish, Swedish and Danish (see Figure 1).


Figure 1. Spain marks campaign slogan

The process began when Turespaña developed a strategic plan with a specific communication goal. In order to outline the strategy, it was necessary to target the foreign market, therefore a series of elements were considered, such as the product, the consumer and the market situation. From the evaluation of these factors arose the strategic approach. As far as the campaign is concerned, Turespaña proposed the following communication objectives: the campaign will promote an image of Spain which highlights its singular values and competitive advantages over other Mediterranean countries in all fields. In order to achieve this goal, the campaign will have to:

(1) Promote Spain's diversity. 
(2) Involve the target audience. 
(3) Offer quality as a singular element of Spain.
(4) Mirror ‘the Spanish attitude’ (Source:

After finalising the advertising strategy and defining the target audience, Turespaña proceeded to the screening of the advertising agency which will carry out the promotion campaign. The screening of advertising agencies consists of two stages: in the first stage, eleven agencies proposed their creative projects; Turespaña pre-selected five of them, and submitted the campaigns to evaluation tests in the main receiving markets (United Kingdom, France, Germany and the USA). In the second stage, Turespaña chose the campaign that had been proved most effective in the tests. The advertising agency Publicis groupe was selected according to the following criteria, which met Turespaña requirements:

(1) Provide an overall image of Spain (not only sun and beach but also monuments, museums, sport, wellness, conferences, etc.)
2) Distinguish quality as a singular element of Spain (cultural events, innovative infrastructures, etc.)
(3) Leave an unforgettable impression.
(4) Promote the "Spanish attitude" that means hospitality, friendliness, the Spanish way of life.

As we can see, the main creative resources proposed by Publicis were simple: to make potential tourists believe that if they have been to Spain, they will feel different. In Spain, tourists will discover wealth that they could not have imagined before in every respect. It will make them see life in a different way, experience personal growth and from that time on, they will live more fully. Feeling life is what differentiates Spain from its rival countries. Feeling life will make visitors undergo emotion and passion which will bring a difference in them. The slogan of the campaign will be the following: Spain marks. Tourists will bear the mark of distinct attributes. These attributes will relate to the wide range of attraction and facilities that the Spanish culture offers: art, language, history, traditions, cuisine and nature. The campaign will show that people who have been to Spain bear an attribute that proves how their encounter with the country has affected them. The emotional impact left after visiting Spain will be visually expressed through distinctive physical, intellectual or emotional marks:  emotional marks include a piercing in the lip with the letter ‘ñ’ from “España,” a tattoo of the Áltamira's bisons or Dalí’s moustache; a child who reproduces the aqueduct of Segovia will have more intellectual appeal; and a woman’s tears during the Holy Week’s celebration has emotional impact. The campaign slogan reflects the idea transmitted by the visuals which show a person (a potential tourist) physically and emotionally touched after visiting Spain (Figure 2).


Figure 2. Spain marks campaign visuals

3.2. External and internal constraints
3.2.1. External

The translation process of promotion campaigns is affected by external and internal constraints that determine the translation procedures chosen by translators (Franco Aixela 1996; Kelly 1997). In the case of the Spain marks campaign, we find, on the one hand, external constraints (advertiser’s objectives, marketing demands, translators’ working conditions, quality norms and target audiences’ expectations). On the other hand, we have internal constraints (semiotic cohesion, nature and function of CSIs, previous translations, relevance and ideological status).

● Advertiser’s objectives

In their professional practice, translators are bound to a translation commission which ‘forces’ them to side with the advertiser (the Spanish Tourist Board) as deliverer. They can no longer be on the side of the receiver who is manipulated by the sender. This “patronage” (Lefevere 1992:13) determines the translators’ task. Furthermore, the advertiser’s objectives play a decisive role, influenced by economic and legal factors such as business culture, organisational patterns, marketing models, etc). According to Franco Aixelà (1996:65), “translators are usually the people who carry full responsibility for the product, but by no means the only ones that in fact control the results.”

● Working conditions

In advertising agencies, translators are generally integrated in the creation and production team and work closely with the account directors, webmasters, creators, copywriters, computer graphic designers, etc. (Vandal-Sirois 2011). In the case of the Spain marks campaign, the translator had to come to a “strategic agreement” with the team working on the international campaign since Turespaña subcontracted the process of translation to the French communications group Publicis which carried out both the creation and the translation of the source texts of the campaign. According to Daniel Calamonte, Account Director of Publicis Madrid, for translators, living and working in a different linguistic and cultural environment is always a challenge. In this respect, Kelly (1997:34) points out that, at least in the Spanish market, “most of the translation work is done by non-professionals non-native speakers.”

● Quality norms

Kelly (1997; 2000; 2005), Durán Muñoz (2008) and Valdeón García (2009) emphasise the necessity of higher-quality translation in the tourist promotion sector. The European Standard for Translation Service Providers (EN-15038:2006), published by the European Committee of Standardization (CEN), provides a European norm that must be followed by professional translators in order to guarantee good quality. In this respect, Durán (2008:30) believes that in the case of tourist translation:

All these competences included in the mentioned norm ensure a more efficient and precise translation, i.e., the recognition of these competences by translators ensures a high level of translation quality and thus, an optimal communication with the target audience Durán (2008:30).

● Marketing demands

Moreover, basic principles of advertising emphasise the need to ‘keep it simple.’ Key requirements of advertising are resumed in the AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) which shows how to target a market effectively: first to grab the reader’s attention, then to stimulate interest, create desire for the product or service and finally to prompt action. In tourist promotion, the principal tenet would be ‘keep it simple to be comprehensible’ for the target culture. Therefore, as De Pedro Ricoy (1996:33) suggests "determining how people are going to be reached by an advertisement at a time, and targeting that audience” facilitates a deeper understanding of the campaign.

In 2010, Turespaña launched a new global campaign, I need Spain, handled by MediaMind whose product “Smart Versioning” can create one master advertisement and “creatively optimize” versions of the same ad in 28 markets and localise over 12 languages. Therefore, following the phrase ‘think global, act local’, popular in advertising, and referring to the above campaign, Gonzalo Ramírez Piñango, Account Director of Media Contacts, declared: “We were looking for an advanced solution that would allow Turespaña to increase relevancy within a short launch cycle delivering a unified message.” 

● Target culture expectations

We fully subscribe Kelly and Fuentes Luque’s (2000:236) recommendation that, in order to fulfill their roles efficiently in tourist promotion, translators should not only be aware of mutual perceptions, but should also be able to adapt tourist texts to the target culture expectations. In her pioneering work, Kelly (1997:37) considers cultural distance, textual conventions and constraints in tourist texts. She notes that “[t]he more successful translations are those in which the conventions of the target conventions prevail, as their application constitutes a better guarantee for the communicative process.” She also notes the substantial differences between Spanish and English languages regarding stylistic conventions that have to be taken into account when translating tourist texts (ibid:4-5):

There is an exceptionally common tendency in Spanish to adopt a ‘literary’ style with florid descriptive passages and extensive use of figurative language, much less common on the whole in English-language texts.
3.2.2. Internal

● Semiotic cohesion

A reader and even more so, a translator, first approach the tourist promotion campaign as a visual message. According to Zanettin (2008:23), efficient translators have to be aware of the importance of visuals: “While the analysis can be focused on the translation of the verbal component, it cannot dispense with an examination of how words interplay with visuals in the co-construction of meaning.”

In the case of Spain marks, the verbal and visual messages are the following:

Black-and-white photographs on which the campaign is based
Logo of Turespaña (Miro’s sun)
Map of Spain
Colour photographs

Slogan in red large upper case letters
Strap line that states “Be marked with”
Linguistic paratexts accompanying the photographs whose function is to give information to the potential tourist about the social, cultural or geographic context.

The visual messages, especially images or photographs, are considered as peritextual elements (Yuste Frías 2010:295) that should be "paratranslated." As for verbal messages, translators have to choose to translate them within the space limits imposed by the advertiser or to maintain them in Spanish to provide an exotic touch.

As so much relevance is ascribed to the campaign visuals, these also have to demonstrate cohesion and it is important to make the messages as easy as possible for the potential reader to refer to and understand. Verbal language is not the only component which is adapted, and visual components are often modified as well. Besides, it is true that modifying or retouching the photographs involves extra costs for the advertiser, but current technologies have changed the way campaigns are produced and translated. Advertisers can modify and edit any aspect of the adverts, including images, text, sounds and languages at a low cost.

● Nature and function of CSIs

Influenced by the very nature of CSIs, translators seem to favour the ‘original’ term, particularly in the case of proper names of cities, relevant artists or touristic sites. At a time of globalisation, CSIs are used as a sales argument in tourist promotion campaigns for the sake of attracting tourism. Franco Aixelà makes the following comments:

Within the text, the treatment of a CSI also depends on the textual function it plays in the source text, as well as its situation within it. The function of the translated item in the target text need not, obviously, be the same as in the original (beginning with the possibility of deletion), but there is a tendency that way, and the margin of freedom enjoyed by the translator will no doubt be influenced by it, mostly due to reasons involving the credibility and internal coherence of the translation (1996:69).

● Previous translations

In the same way, pre-established translations of tourist sector that have become a recognised part of the target language culture will ‘force’ translators to choose a concrete translation procedure. There are CSIs such as important institutions or toponyms which have a socially accepted translation in the target language culture.

● Relevance

A factor that influences the translation of a CSI is its importance for the credibility or the text (Franco Aixelà 1996:70). For instance, in connection with stylistic conventions in tourist texts, English readers would not easily accept a certain level of pretentiousness, frequent in Spanish source texts. 

● Ideological status

Another factor which determines CSIs translators' choices is the ideological dimension. "A CSI may be shared by both cultural systems as to its existence but not as to its use or social value" (Franco Aixelà, 1996:69). A translation may be stylistically acceptable, but could leave the wrong impression on target readers due to religious beliefs, for example. In fact, many translation studies scholars have demonstrated that it is wrong to expect different cultures to react identically (De Pedro Ricoy 2007:8). When the CSIs are not shared between source culture and target culture, the campaign would produce a “strange effect” (Martínez Arnaldos 1990:168) and the CSIs represent “cultural bumps” (Leppihalme 1995). Interestingly, Adab (2002: 141) also notes that:

One feature of this new global culture is a tendency to destroy, or at least seek to minimise, intercultural differences” and this trend is due to the fact that advertising agencies “assume the existence of a global set of values and expectations, usually in relation to business (ibid.: 124).

Therefore, although accepting that the translation commission involves external and internal constraints that determine their task, translators should aim for an effective and accessible translation to reach the target audience.

4. Theoretical background of the study

We will adopt a descriptivist approach as adopted by Toury (1995) and Herman (1996) that favours the role of the translator as a cultural mediator. While Toury considers that translation norms are regularities that govern the decision-making process and determine the type of equivalence between original and translation within a scale anchored with two extremes adequacy (source-oriented equivalence) and acceptability (target-oriented equivalence), Herman (1995) stresses the importance of the agents involved in this process rather than on the nature of the relation between source and target texts. We will also refer to Venuti’s model (1995) as a useful tool for the translation of CSIs. According to Venuti, translation strategies are distributed along a scale with two poles as well termed foreignisation (preserving the source culture differences) and domestication (erasing the foreignness of the source text). Venuti’s taxonomy has been revisited by many scholars. Among them, Kwiecinsky (2001:13) who distinguishes between exoticisation and assimilation and who also demonstrates that labels often overlap. In this sense, concerning tourist promotion, De Pedro Ricoy (2007:13) establishes a parallelism between those concepts:

Parallels could be drawn between the marketing dichotomy as for localization/globalization and the contrast of foreignisation/ domestication, as it is necessary to establish whether it is preferable to present consumers campaigns developed in accordance with their cultural identity (oriented towards the target culture) or advertisements based on a different cultural identity (oriented towards the source culture).

In fact, as Agorni points out, a tension arises between the two poles derived from the informative and persuasive functions of tourist texts:

Translators should therefore find a balance between the necessity to provide information in an accessible and yet appealing way, and that means that different approaches to translation may be adopted, so that cultural difference may be strategically enhanced or reduced, according to specific situations Agorni (2012:6).

She concludes that the translation of tourist texts is characterised by a “high degree of intervention almost bordering on rewriting” (ibid.:7). In this respect, Kelly (1997:35) stresses that “[i]t is true that tourist texts often do require considerable ‘adaptation,’ situating the activity of tourist translation close to that nebulous border existing in theory between translation and rewriting.”

These principles have to be complemented with a “parallel semiological” approach (Celotti 1997:39) mainly based on the translation of paratextual elements. We definitely distance ourselves from the "constrained translation" concept (Mayoral, Kelly and Gallardo 1988) that contributed to emphasize the "tyranny" of the image (Celotti 2008:47). As Yuste Frias (2010) explains, in any specialised translation of texts including images, translators never isolate verbal content from other semiotic codes, from a language into another, but they translate between languages weaving single words in a "intersemiotic and multisemiotic relationship" within one or more codes. Thus, a translator should not forget that an informative and persuasive effect is also based on visuals and should ‘paratranslate’ or adapt the visuals that could be culturally inappropriate to the target audience in order to preserve the communicative functions of advertising. Snell-Hornby et al. (1997) and Kelly (1997) also consider that ‘adaptation’ must be applied to visuals, as tourist promotion campaigns are characterised by a constant interplay between the verbal and visual messages.

To sum up, we fully subscribe to Zaro Vera’s opinion (2002:178) that a descriptive study in the field of tourism should always be accompanied by a paratextual elements analysis, by field research on the agents involved in the process and by the analysis of the reception, which could be done through interviews or surveys to Anglophone readers.

5. Translation procedures

As stated before, we have selected sixteen ads as a representative corpus of study of the tourist promotion campaign, Spain marks. The material for analysis has been sourced directly from Turespaña, however, as three of the visuals were withdrawn, we included in the appendix only thirteen instead of the former sixteen visuals. Although it is not a ‘corpus’ in a strict sense, since we understand that it would involve a more extensive collection of texts compiled according to well delimited criteria  (Baker 1995), the analysis of these texts will allow us to make some valuable generalisations. The selection aims to cover a great variety of tourist activities to promote Spanish tourism abroad. In order to describe the CSIs translation procedures found in the corpus, we have considered each different CSI and we have automatically discarded repetitions (70 CSIs were selected in total). We have considered the Spanish text as the source text (ST), the English translation as the target text (TT) and translation procedures (TP). We have selected Kwiecinsky’s methodology (2001) as a basis for the research, using exoticisation, explanation and assimilation as the most appropriate ways in which to formulate guidelines for translation in tourist promotion campaigns.

5.1. Exoticisation

In this group of translation procedures, the CSIs are transferred into the target text, so that it has an obvious ‘foreign’ appearance. This idea is supported, among others, by Newmark (1988:82) who notes that it gives the translation "local colour." Berman (1985/2004:286) also argues that it “emphasises and exoticises a certain stereotype.” In the same vein, Kelly and Fuentes Luque (2000:240) state that “[t]he campaigns, far from shying away from the impact of stereotypes, make use of them (and the fact that they are so deep-rooted) to the benefit of the promotion of Spanish tourism.”

5.1.1. Pure Exoticisation

Many CSIs are left in the source language as ‘borrowings’ that imitate the form, meaning and phonetic structure of the foreign word (Zaro and Truman 1998:42). The following example aims to attract tourists to some of Spain’s most beautiful cities by illustrating both their artistic and historic beauty. It emphasises that the cities (declared UNESCO's World Heritage Sites) do not just belong to Spain but to the world. This way, the text aims to appeal to a much wider range of tourists by portraying these cities in their own right and not simply as a part of Spanish tourism. That is the reason why all the cities names are left in Spanish with their accents intact: Ávila, Cáceres, Córdoba… In the visuals, a child has reproduced the aqueduct of Segovia playing with building bricks (Example 1 below):

Example 1


ST1: Hay ciudades en España que no son sólo españolas. Porque pertenecen a todo el mundo. Ávila, Cáceres, Córdoba, Cuenca, Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, Toledo y Alcalá de Henares, han sido distinguidas por la UNESCO como Patrimonio histórico y artístico de la Humanidad. En ellas admirarás todos los estilos arquitectónicos, viviendo en perfecta armonía. Vivirás historias, leyendas y tradiciones conservadas como un tesoro. Disfrutarás de la gastronomía y la artesanía local, tan auténticas como hace siglos. Ven, atraviesa sus muros y entra en la historia.
TT1: Some cities in Spain aren't just Spanish: they belong to the whole world. Ávila, Cáceres, Córdoba, Cuenca, Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, Toledo and Alcalá de Henares have all been designated as historic and artistic World heritage sites by UNESCO. In these cities you can admire a wealth of different architectural styles, side by side in perfect harmony. Live out stories, legends and traditions that are preserved like treasures. Enjoy the authentic gastronomy and local crafts as others have done for centuries. Enter the city walls and walk into history. 

On occasions, we can find examples of literal translation such as “Sevilla”/”Seville” or “País Vasco”/”The Basque country” (Example 2 below):

Example 2

ST2: Ven a sumergirte en el reino del agua: Agua de mar que rompe con fuerza en acantilados, puertos pesqueros y playas de fina arena. Agua de lluvia que riega prados y montañas, cubriéndolo todo con una pátina verde. En Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria o el País Vasco, no tendrás que elegir entre mar o montaña.
TT2: Submerge yourself in the kingdom of water. Seawater breaking ferociously on the cliffs, alongside fishing ports and beaches of fine sand. Rainwater nourishing the fields and mountains, covering everything with a lustrous green. In Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria or the Basque country, you don’t have to choose between the sea and the mountains.

Due to their international impact, the spelling of names of well-known Spanish artists such as “Dalí,” “Miró,” “Tápies” or “Barceló” is also maintained with accents in the English version as we can see in the following example (Example 3 below):

Example 3

ST3: Dicen que el genio es contagioso. Y en España hay una verdadera epidemia. Goya, Dalí, Picasso, Miró: nombres de ayer que crearon vanguardias. Tapies, Chillida, Saura, Barceló: artistas de hoy que mantienen viva la llama. Este es un país donde formas y colores invaden los ojos y el alma. Ven y contagíate.
TT3: It has been said that genius is catching. And Spain proves it. Goya, Dalí, Picasso and Miró: names from the past, creators of the avant-garde. Tápies, Chillida, Saura and Barceló contemporary artists who keep the spirit alive. This is a country where you can truly feast your eyes and your soul on form and colour. So come along and be captivated.
5.1.2. Italicised Exoticisation

Some CSIs left in Spanish in the English version are typographically emphasised with italics by the translator. The adding of italics in a translation is a deliberate strategy in order to make the TT more attractive to the target audience. In fact, some CSIs "resist" translation (Venuti, 1995) as they represent a positive or negative stereotype. As we can see in the example below, the CSIs “fiesta” and “siesta” convey the lazy and joyful stereotype of Spain (Example 4 below):

Example 4

ST4: Ven a sentirte parte de un país en el que la fiesta toma las calles. En España serás protagonista de rituales y celebraciones que son leyenda en todo el mundo. Casi sin darte cuenta, te mezclarás con la gente y su alegría  de vivir. Y hasta puede que olvides de qué país venías.
TT4: Come to a country where the fiesta takes overthe streets. Be part of Spanish celebrations that are legendary throughout the world. Mix with the people and share their passion for life, until you almost forget where you're from.
ST5: España es el país de los contrastes. Aquí vive la gente que inventó la siesta y la fiesta. Un lugar que te invita a soñar de día y a despertar de noche. Que te enseña a relajarte y a sacarle a la vida todo su jugo. Ven a sentirlo en tu propia piel.
TT5: Spain is a country of contrasts. Here, the siesta and the fiesta were conceived. It's a place that invites you to dream by day and wake up at night. It shows you how to relax and get the most from life. Come and feel it on your skin.

Quite the same occurs in the example below with the CSIs “feria” and “Alhambra” left in Spanish in italics in the English version:

ST6: ¿Has oído hablar de la Alhambra de Granada, de la Feria de Sevilla, de las playas de Cádiz? Ven a fundirte con la alegría de Andalucía, con sus gentes y sus fiestas. Descubre la monumentalidad de sus pueblos y ciudades. Déjate embrujar. Su magia te cambiará la vida.
TT6: Have you heard about the Alhambrain Granada, the Feria of Seville and the beaches of Cádiz? Come and immerse yourself in the joy of Andalucía, its people and its fiestas. Discover its majestic cities and amazing villages. Let yourself be enchanted. Its magic will change your life. 

Furthermore, the well-known pilgrimage route "Camino de Santiago" named UNESCO's World Heritage Site is italicised, as we can see in the following advertisement (example 5 below):

Example 5


ST7: En España hay una ruta que se recorre con el cuerpo y con el alma. Desde el siglo X hasta nuestros días, peregrinos de todo el mundo viven, en el Camino de Santiago, un encuentro único con la cultura, la naturaleza y la espiritualidad. Únete a ellos y descubrirás 116 ciudades y pueblos con más de 1.800 construcciones de gran valor artístico e histórico. Y la hospitalidad de una gente que no podrás olvidar. Ven a formar parte del milagro.
TT7: There's a Spanish road you may travel with your body and your soul. From the 10th century to the present day, pilgrims have been coming from all over the world to journey along the Camino de Santiago, a unique route taking in culture, nature and spirituality. Discover 116 towns and villages with more than 1,800 buildings of historical and artistic value and experience the hospitality of people you won't be able to forget. Come and be part of the miracle. 

Geographical spots or toponyms such as "Pirineo" are also italicised (example 6 below):

Example 6

ST8: En España existe una tierra tan indomable que desafía al propio cielo. Es el Pirineo, un paraíso natural donde el turismo de aventura toma todas sus formas. Atrévete a escalar sus increíbles montañas, a descender por sus vertiginosos cañones y sus rápidos ríos. Después podrás recuperar el aliento descubriendo paisajes encantados y pueblos centenarios que han sabido conservar su encanto rural y sus  tradiciones.
TT8: There's a land in Spain that's so wild it challenges the sky. The Pirineo is a natural paradise where you'll find all kinds of adventure. Dare to scale incredible mountains, descend stunning gorges and traverse their rapids. Then catch your breath, discovering century-old villages with their rural charm and traditions intact. 

The tourists in mind for this tourist promotion campaign are those who have a keen interest in Spanish language and culture. The specificity of the Spanish language (the “ñ” of “España”) is a CSI that the translators keep unchanged making use of quotation marks (example 7 below):


Example 7

ST9: Aprender español fuera de España es como aprender a nadar fuera del agua. Porque una lengua no es sólo una lista innumerable de reglas gramaticales. Hay que conocer su cultura, sumergirse en las calles y mezclarse con la gente. En España te sentirás en el medio natural de un idioma que hablan 330 millones de personas. El de Cervantes, García Lorca o Pedro Almodóvar. Cuando tengas que dejarnos, ya nunca olvidarás que España se escribe con ñ.
TT9: Learning Spanish outside Spain is like learning to swim out of water! A language is not just an endless list of grammatical rules. You need to learn about the culture, immerse yourself in the streets and mix with the people. In Spain you're in the birthplace of a language spoken by 330 million people -the language of Cervantes, Lorca and Pedro Almodóvar. When you leave you can never forget that España is written with an "ñ".

Aiming to promote Spain’s cultural heritage, the CSIs “Ruta Vía de la Plata” and “calzada” are left in Spanish and italicised; “calzada” is followed by the insertion of the words “winds its way”, to describe the road. It highlights the meaning of the CSI as it emphasises the element of travel and discovery of this important part of the Spanish Empire (Example 8):

Example 8

ST10: En España existe una tierra tan indomable que desafía al propio cielo. Es el Pirineo, un paraíso natural donde el turismo de aventura toma todas sus formas. Atrévete a escalar sus increíbles montañas, a descender por sus vertiginosos cañones y sus rápidos ríos. Después podrás recuperar el aliento descubriendo paisajes encantados y pueblos centenarios que han sabido conservar su encanto rural y sus  tradiciones.
TT10: There's a land in Spain that's so wild it challenges the sky. The Pirineo is a natural paradise where you'll find all kinds of adventure. Dare to scale incredible mountains, descend stunning gorges and traverse their rapids. Then catch your breath, discovering century-old villages with their rural charm and traditions intact. 
5.1.3. Exoticisation combined with deletion

As texts work in conjunction with visuals, the translator deliberately omits part of the source text. In the example below, the well-known museums “Museo del Prado” and “Centro de Arte Reina Sofía” are rendered in English respectively as “the Prado” and “the Reina Sofia” with the occasional loss of orthographic stress. The cultural heritage of Spain is expressed both in text and visuals showing a lady with a haircut that reminds the Velazquez’s painting Las Meninas (Example 9):

Example 9

ST11: Si amas el arte y la cultura, ven a Madrid. Aquí Velázquez, Goya o El Greco se dan la mano en el Museo del Prado que, con la Fundación Thyssen-Bornemisza y el Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, la han convertido en la capital mundial de la pintura. Y muy cerca de la ciudad, lugares únicos como el Monasterio del Escorial o los Palacios de Aranjuez. Madrid ha sabido conservar el espíritu de Cervantes, Lope de Vega o Calderón, en cada plaza, en cada equina. Ven a su encuentro y contágiate de su genio.
TT11: If you love art and culture, come to Madrid. Here, Velázquez, Goya and El Greco sit side by side in the Prado, which along with the Thyssen-Bornemisza foundation and the Reina Sofia, have made Madrid the world's art capital. Close by are unique places such as the Escorial Monastery and the Aranjuez Palaces. Madrid has preserved the spirit of Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Calderón in every square and on every street corner. Come and experience their genius.

Figure 3. Percentages of  exoticisation translation procedures

5.2. Explanation

The second group will consider procedures that resort to the intratextual gloss of the semantic meaning or implications of the CSI to cope with the expectations of the target audience (Franco Aixelà 1996:62). Three of the more frequent procedures outlined here are Pure Explanation, Hyphenated Explanation and Adjectivised Explanation, procedures that convey a better understanding of the CSI by target audiences (Wiesemann 2001:34).

5.2.1. Hyphenated Explanation

The use of hyphens to enclose an explanation also works as a form of emphasising in tourist promotion campaigns. In the example below, the combination of italicised exoticisation and hyphenated explanation clarifies the obscure meaning of “Neocueva,” the name of the Altamira’s cave, transparent enough for a Spanish reader but which requires some explanation for an English one (Example 10):

Example 10

ST12: En España también hay caminos que conducen a Roma. A la antigua Hispania Romana, por supuesto. La Ruta Vía de la Plata es una auténtica calzada que, de norte a sur, une ciudades tan majestuosas como Gijón, Astorga, Salamanca, Cáceres, Mérida o Sevilla. Ven a recorrerla y pasarás por puentes, arcos y teatros romanos. Entrarás en murallas y ciudades medievales. Admirarás lo mejor de los estilos Románico, Gótico o Modernista. Y entre montañas, valles y cañadas de espectacular belleza, descubrirás la herencia cultural de un país que fue la provincia más importante de un antiguo imperio.
TT12: Spain still has Roman roads, just like in ancient Roman Hispania. The Ruta Via of the Plata is an authentic calzada that winds its way from north to south, linking such majestic cities as Gijón, Astorga, Salamanca, Cáceres, Mérida and Seville. Travel this road and pass Roman bridges, arches and theatres. Go through ancient city walls and enter into mediaeval cities. Admire the best Roman, Gothic and Modern architecture. Gaze at mountains, valleys and ravines of spectacular beauty. Discover the heritage of a country that once was one of the most important parts of an ancient empire. 
5.2.3. Adjectivised Explanation

As far as cuisine is concerned, CSIs regarding dishes or eating habits are appealing topics. In those cases, translators generally combine italicised exoticisation with adjectivised explanation such as “Spanish tortilla,” “Iberian cured ham” or with hyphenated explanation of the typically Spanish eating habits such as tapas (Example 11):

Example 11

ST 13: En España, comer es un placer tan variado que elegir siempre supone renunciar. Quizá por eso, hace ya varios siglos, los españoles inventaron las tapas, pequeños y deliciosos bocados, pensados para compartir entre amigos. En cualquier parte encontrarás bares y tabernas donde la risa de la gente se mezcla con la famosa tortilla de patatas, los langostinos o el exquisito jamón ibérico. Siempre acompañados de buen vino de la tierra. Deja que los diferentes sabores se fundan en tu paladar. Y disfruta, sin renuncias. 
TT 13: Eating in Spain is so deliciously varied that to choose one dish means missing the exquisite pleasure of another. Perhaps with this in mind, several centuries ago the Spanish thought up tapas -small tasty morsels to be enjoyed among friends. All across Spain you will find bars and taverns where laughter mingles with the aroma of the famous Spanish tortilla, succulent prawns or sensational Iberian cured ham. To be washed down always with the splendid local wines. Enjoy yourself, with no regrets!

Figure 4. Percentages of explanation  translation procedures.

5.3. Assimilation

The last group of translation procedures includes CSIs that are replaced by another target culture reference with the result that the text is partially rewritten in a target culture setting. The original CSI is generally replaced by another CSI that belongs to the target culture to cater to a bigger need for information.

5.3.1. Pure Assimilation

As we can see in the following example, the measures are adapted to the target culture. However, there seems to be a mechanical error: “siete mil kilómetros de costa” is translated as “two thousand and five hundred miles.” The exact figure should be 4,375 miles which could be rendered as “over four thousand miles” (example 12):

Example 12


ST 14: Dos Mares y un Océano. Siete mil kilómetros de costa. Cuatrocientas cuarenta y cinco playas con bandera azul. Trescientos días de sol al año. Y la mejor oferta hotelera de Europa. Ven a fundirte, en cuerpo y alma, con el sol, la naturaleza y la alegría de vivir. Una experiencia que no se va con el bronceado. 
TT 14: Two seas and one ocean. 2,500 miles of coastline. 445 blue flag beaches. 300 days of sun a year. And the best hotels in Europe. Come and immerse yourself in the sun, the nature and the joy of life. Your tan might fade but the experience will last forever.

In the case of folklore and traditions like Holy Week which is celebrated in Spain in a different way, the translated version provides necessary information for tourists that would like to know that this religious celebration is taking place during Easter holidays, Easter celebrations. Besides, the CSI, saeta, has received no explanation. Maintaining it in Spanish may reinforce the Spanish deep-rooted and heartfelt celebration but may also be lost on English speaker (Example 13 below):

Example 13

ST 15: No hace falta ser creyente para vibrar con la Semana Santa española. En Sevilla, en Valladolid, y en otras muchas ciudades y pueblos, no podrás quedarte al margen de tanta devoción, de tanto arte. Ven a sentir, en cuerpo y alma, el efecto de una saeta rompiendo el silencio. Quizás descubras porqué aquí, a esta fiesta, le llamamos Pasión.
TT 15: You don't have to be a “believer” to take part in the Easter celebrations in Spain. In Seville, Valladolid and many other towns and villages, the devotion and art will draw you in. You have to experience a saeta breaking the silence to appreciate its effect on your body and your soul. And you might just discover why in Spain, we call it The Passion.
5.3.2. Italicised Assimilation 

As showed before, many exoticisations are italicised, here is another example: Paradores de España. Besides, the CSI Don Quixote is difficult to classify. In fact, the title Don, as part of the source language culture, enhances the noble hidalgo and ”increases its comprehensibility by offering a target language version which can still be recognised as belonging to the cultural system of the source text.” (Franco Aixelà 1996:61-4).

ST16: Abandona el estrés y las preocupaciones. En los Paradores de España aprenderás a relajarte y a vivir como un rey. Exactamente en los mismos lugares en que ellos lo hicieron hace siglos. Despertarás en antiguos palacios y conventos, en castillos y caserones medievales. Pasearás por los más extraordinarios parajes. Te sorprenderás degustando recetas que aparecen en las páginas del Quijote. Reserva tu plaza en un viaje a través de la historia, la cultura y la belleza natural de nuestro país. Vivirás un sueño del que no querrás despertar nunca.
TT16: Leave your cares behind. At Paradores de España, learn to relax and live like a king, in the very places they've been doing the same thing for centuries. Wake up in ancient palaces and convents, castles and grand mediaeval houses. Visit the most extraordinary places. Be amazed to taste dishes that you've only seen in the pages of Don Quixote. Reserve your place on a journey through the historical, cultural and natural beauty of our country. Live a dream you won't want to wake up from.  

Figure 5: Percentages of assimilation TP

The analysis of CSIs translation procedures found in the tourist promotion campaign Spain marks allows us to make the following assertions (see Figure 3): within a scale from adequacy to acceptability, the most outstanding and frequent procedures found in our corpus are exoticisation procedures (79%) that give a deliberate and attractive ‘foreign’ appearance to the translated text as it leaves the original CSI untouched to promote Spain as a tourist destination. It provides a local colour effect aiming to increase tourists’ motivation to travel to Spain. We can observe that exoticisation procedures are frequently combined with other procedures (italicised exoticisation combined with hyphenated explanation or with adjectivised explanation, for instance). In the second place, we have assimilation procedures (14%) that appear less foreign and then closer to the target culture in order to meet audience expectations. In third place, we find explanation procedures (7%) that provide the tourist with some extra information that s/he could need.


Figure 6: Translation procedures(Publicis)

6. Standard of translations into English

A short survey of 10 mother-tongue English speakers was carried out in order to assess the degree of success of Spain marks campaign by Turespaña. Participants consisted of eight British citizens between the ages of 20 to 58 years (Richard, Elizabeth, John, Ann, Natalie, Bridget, Pawl and Sonia), one Irish (Rory) and one American citizen (Kenneth). First, we asked the interviewees to look at the slogan and the images, use the keys (Positive, Strange, Mediocre and Negative) and give their overall impression on visuals. Then, we asked them to read the texts, use the keys (Reads Well, Reads Badly) and add some comments. Finally, we asked them to focus on 70 translated CSIs and to indicate their preferred translation procedure.

To begin with, we asked the Anglophones to examine the slogan of the campaign more closely. In common with Fuentes Luque (2005:79-84), none of the interviewees was convinced by the slogan and they all agree that if “mark” is used as a verb, it holds negative connotations. Here are some possible solutions given by them:

– Spain leaves a lasting impression on you. – Spain leaves a mark on you. – Spain leaves its mark. – Be touched by Spain. – Touched by Spain. – Spanish touch. – Spanish marks.

Concerning the visuals (see Figure 7), in general, the interviewees found them rather appealing and even some definitely stirred their interest like Dalí or Tattoo.


Figure 7. Interviewees' responses (visuals)

However, in many cases, the interviewees found that visuals and texts did not match very well (Mediocre). In the case of Museums,for example, they reported “strange imagery” since they did not understand the relation between the visual and the text that is the relation between the lady’s hairstyle and the painting Las Meninas by Velazquez. Besides, the interviewees found that some visuals appeal to particular groups and would not appeal to a broad range of people, for example, San Fermin would appeal to people which like bullfighting or Pirineo, since the text seems  belowaimed at adventure sports people (rock climbing) and the photo is more for young partiers. In the case of Beach, the photo could also promote a sport (skiing) in another country (Switzerland for example). For some interviewees, it even conveyed a negative image, as they found sun and children to be a bad combination. A few participants commented that the Easter advertisement should express emotion depending on religious beliefs. Many Anglophones found the visuals repelling rather than attractive, for instance, the Camino de Santiago that shows a bandaged foot which might send a negative image (pain, displeasure, etc .).

As far as the texts are concerned, many interviewees think that while not linguistically inaccurate, they have not been written by a native speaker of English (see Figure 8). According to the interviewees, target texts do not always meet the standards of translation into English and the target culture stylistic conventions.

Figure 8. Interviewees' responses (texts)

The interviewees commented that a great number of target texts “reads badly” because they detected linguistic errors, awkward turn-of-phrases or strange collocations. We asked them to give alternative options that we have reproduced below (Figure 9 below):

Target text

Published translation

Alternative option

1. Lego

“Enter the city walls and walk into history”
“Acueduct of Segovia”

“Enter the city and walk into history”

“Aqueduct of Segovia”

3. San Fermin

4. Generic

"where the fiesta takes over the streets"

“dream by day”
“wake up at night”

"where fiesta takes over the streets"

“sleep by day”
“party by night”

7. Foot

“People you won’t be able to forget”

“People you will never forget”

9. Piercing

“immerse yourself in the streets”

“immerse yourself in the culture”

10. Plata

“Pass Roman bridges”

“Pass over Roman bridges”

11. Pirineo

“a land in Spain that’s so wild it challenges the sky”

“There’ s a land in Spain that’s so wild it is a challenge to explore it”

13. Tapas

“to choose one dish”
“with no regrets”

“choosing one dish”
“Don’t feel guilty”

14. Beach

“Joy of life”
"best hotels"

“Joy of living”
“some of the best hotels"

16. Paradores

“Be amazed to taste”

“Taste the amazing dishes”

Figure 9. Interviewees' alternative options

Many participants mentioned that target texts hold a certain level of pretentiousness. The Dalí ad particularly attracted their attraction since the sentence "Goya, Dalí, Picasso and Miró: names from the past, creators of the avant-garde", is not quite accurate as French artists really create the avant-garde movement. An alternative option could be "main characters of the avant-garde."

Most of the target texts show a worrying lack of coherence: “Seville” is translated as well as “Basque country,” however, “Andalucía” remains unchanged. The same occurs in the linguistic paratexts accompanying the colour photos, some proper names of cities or touristic sites are translated while others are left in Spanish without any consistency: Macarena, Sevilla Easter, Cantabria, Acueduct of Segovia, San Fermin Feast, Pamplona, Navarra, Altamira Cave, Santillana del Mar, Roman arch, Caparra, Cáceres, Feria de Abril, Sevilla, Salvador Dalí, "The specter of sex-appeal”, Theater-Museum, Figueras, Velazquez’s “Meninas” Del Prado Museum, Madrid, Cabo de San Antonio Beach, Javea, Alicante, Students at Alcalá de Henares University, Madrid, Cross of the Pilgrim, Roncesvalles, Navarra, etc.

Concerning the translation procedures applied to CSIs, interviewees preferred the pre-established translation “Andalusia.” The same occurs with “Pirineo” left in Spanish as the Anglophones prefer the French ‘Pyrenees.’ While fiesta and siesta are well accepted, interviewees do not particularly agree with the CSI "Spanish tortilla" and they found ‘Spanish omelette’ more appropriated. All the Anglophones found some CSIs obscure or unknown, for example, saeta and calzada. They manifested a need of explanation, giving possible solutions as “saeta, flamenco sacred song” and “calzada, Roman road.” In general, all mother-tongue English speakers agree that a short and descriptive explanation should be welcomed.


Figure 10. Translation procedures (survey)

As we can see in figure 10 above, pure exoticisation is the most frequent procedure (47%) then we find pure assimilation (13%) and italicised exoticisation (13%). The main difference between the TP by Publicis and the TP preferred by Anglophones is that 27% are combined ones: we have italicised exoticisation combined with explanation (8%), italicised exoticisation combined with assimilation (7%), italicised exoticisation combined with adjectivised explanation (6%) and italicised exoticisation combined with hyphenated explanation (6%)

7. Conclusions

The results of the small survey indicate that the Spain marks promotion campaign did not convey its message nor persuade sufficient readers to visit Spain. Not only are the visuals not culturally appropriate, but the texts also contain linguistic errors and lack information. The survey has also shed light on the preference of Anglophones for combined translation procedures. When texts do not bring a sufficient understanding of the CSI, translators need to balance the amount of information needed in a functional way. At the same time, they have to try to engage their readers and keep their attention.

Our research project initially aimed at identifying the different CSIs translation procedures in Spain marks campaign as well as their frequency. At the end of the study, our findings led us to a point that in spite of tending towards one pole or the other, exoticisation or assimilation, CSIs translation procedures, at least in the case of Spain marks campaign, show a general tendency towards combining each other revealing a balance between the informative and appellative functions of tourist texts. This trend was confirmed by the results of the survey of mother-tongue English speakers that assessed the campaign. Previous empirical studies on tourist texts, Nord (1991), Kelly (1997), Zaro Vera (2002), Nobs Federer (2003/2006), (Valdeón García, 2009) and Soto Almela (2013) confirm that translations should be adapted to the target culture expectations. Analysing the priorities of a group of Anglophone users with regard to the translation of cultural terms in tourist brochures in a recent article, Soto Almela rightly make the following comments:

The linguistic and cultural mediation within the tourist industry does not often reach acceptable levels, mainly due to the fact that the specialised translation skills required are usually underes­timated. In fact, the majority of tourist translations published in Spain result in a lack of com­prehension when reading, do not bring a sufficient understanding of the culture to the tourists and contain linguistic errors. We must consider tourist translations as an element of mediation and relationship between the tourists and the places that they visit and we must reflect on the necessity of quality tourism translations in Spain (2013:235).

Finally, as many scholars such as Kelly (1997), Snell-Hornby (1999), Durán Muñoz (2008) and Agorni (2012) have demonstrated, translation in the tourism sector needs a more professional involvement regarding the overall poor quality of publications in this field.

8. Final considerations

The international promotion campaigns developed by Turespaña were considered by translation studies and marketing researchers such as Fuentes Luque (2005), Bernabeu López and Rocamora Abellán (2010), Mariottini (2012). However, we did not find studies focused on the translation of culture-specific items in tourist promotion campaigns that could provide guidelines for translators working in this difficult area. In this paper, we carried out a small-scale empirical study with the aim of demonstrating the challenge of translating the CSIs in tourist promotion campaigns. It was not our intention to question the choices made by translators for this tourist promotion campaign in particular, as these choices involved external and internal constraints. In the tourist promotion sector, the translator’s task is to find the more adequate translation procedure to cope with the target cultures’ expectations. In order to achieve successful promotion campaigns, translators should follow Séguinot (1995:63-69) recommendations:

Translators need to understand the basics of marketing: they need to know how cultural differences affect marketing; they must be aware of constraints placed by the form and functions of the source text, and they must be able to interpret the visual elements which are of key importance in advertising Séguinot (1995:63-69).

In any case, it should be clear by now that quality should be the major preoccupation for translators concerning tourist promotion material as the goal of promotion campaigns is to produce optimal informative and persuasive effects on potential tourists. If Spain wants to be certain of making its “mark” on the global tourism map, then the future institutional tourist promotion campaigns have to be translated to capture a larger public arena.


We would like to thank the Spanish Tourist Board, Turespaña, and especially
Dolores Alvarez Riesta from Sub Directorate General for Tourism Innovation and Quality for her kind cooperation.
We are also very grateful to Daniel Calamonte, Account Director of Publicis Madrid office, for providing us the source texts and visuals as well as the English version of the Spain Marks campaign.


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Description: Comitre
Isabel Mª Cómitre Narváez holds a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics and Trade (English/Spanish) from the University of Toulouse (France) and a Ph.D. in Translation Studies from University of Málaga where she has taught translation theory and practice since 1994 in the Department of Translation and Interpretation. She has published articles on foreign languages and translation, translation of advertising and audiovisual translation. Contact:

Description: foto bibliografia2 (1)

Jose Mª Valverde Zambrana is an expert anglicist and teacher trainer at the University of Málaga (Department of Translation and Interpretation). He teaches EFL at Secondary level and has worked extensively in the field of Translation Studies during his professional career. His main research interests include cultural aspects of translation. Contact: