The Language of Luxury: Content, Translation, & Culture In Between

Sara White Wilson, independent writer in luxury brand communications, examines the nuances of translation when it comes to luxury marketing and media

As a luxury consumer, beauty products are my péché mignon (a French phrase meaning ‘weakness’, though I greatly prefer the literal translation: ‘cute sin’). As a luxury professional, language is my métier (also a French word, meaning ‘trade’, though the term carries greater weight than ‘occupation’).

Little surprise then that each time I spend a healthy degree of cash on some beauty potion, I thoroughly – studiously – read the product insert, and often in each language to, say, brush up on my German. It is charming when a French beauty product, for example, makes a harmless fault in their English translation and one that only a French translator would make.
It indicates that the copy and its translation were produced by locals and in the native language of the region where the product was conceived. It suggests the product is artisanal, the company perhaps family-owned, and that the brand is, in short, authentic.

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