The Translation Of Loanwords In Print Advertisements


Malay language has a long history of borrowing words from other languages. English is the main language that contributes towards Malay language vocabulary since lexical interference between both languages increases on a daily basis. In the field of mass media, the translation of English advertisements into Malay has increased the number of loanwords significantly when translators tend to borrow source words into the target language during translation. The practice is largely influenced by the obstacles and challenges which translators need to overcome when translating advertisement texts such as untranslatable words, particularly brand names; language economisation (or linguistic economy), i.e., where loanwords decrease the required space in translated advertisement texts; lack of equivalents in the target language; and the negative connotation that certain words may have if translated into the target language. This study examines the existence of loanwords in the Malay version of print advertisements. The corpus comprises 2064 headlines from the Cosway and Avon product catalogues. Haugen’s definition of loanword together with Heah and Abdul Wahid’s point of view are utilised to identify and analyse the loanwords. This study provides information on six categories of loanwords that exist in print advertisement, namely (i) unassimilated loanword, (ii) partially assimilated loanword, (iii) wholly assimilated loanword, (iv) orthographically assimilated loanword, (v) assimilated compound loanword and (vi) truncated loanword. Indirectly, this study also implies that translation procedures contribute to anglicism in the translated version of Cosway and Avon advertisements.

Keywords: TranslationprocedureloanwordadvertisementAnglicism


English is one of the languages, other than Sanskrit and Arabic, which has significantly influenced Malay language at various levels. Colonisation and the colonial government’s introduction of new concepts in administration, trade, education, culture, politic and technology (Azizah, 2018) has positive and negative influences for Malay language and its users. Some scholars oppose the excessive usage of word originating from the Western World, whereas others posit that this phenomenon is part and parcel of language development. Despite both arguments, the most borrowed words or loanwords in Malay originates from English (Omar, 2008). A recent study by Nathesan (2015) found that the number of borrowed word from English language has exceeded the number of loanwords from Sanskrit or Arabic in the Malay language vocabulary. Many studies such as Núñez Nogueroles (2017), Molotkina (2017) and Abdul Sukur (2018b) have been conducted on the use of loanwords in a variety of texts and its relationship with Anglicism and translation studies.

Loanword and Anglicism

Generally, Anglicism refers to any word in a particular language that is borrowed from English. This concept originates from the 17th century. Anglicism is the concept, idea or object used to refer to Western civilization. However, the word does not necessarily originate from English. Any words related to the English system and considered as English vocabulary may also be defined as Anglicism. Scholars use different terms alternately and sometimes in a slightly different context of meaning when debating about Anglicism. Rogoyska and Zboch (2016), for example, suggest that the concept of Anglicism is almost the same as ‘English borrowing’, ‘loanword’, and ‘any word that originates from English’ and may also ‘be equated with any variants of English dialect’.

Other than Rogoyska and Zboch (2016), Gerding, Fuentes, Gómez, and Kotz, (2014) also differentiate loanword according to the approaches used to analyse it such as ‘loan translation’ or ‘calque’ from the translation viewpoint, ‘loanword’, ‘alien word’, ‘foreign word’, and ‘borrowing’ from the linguistic perspective. Haugen (1972) define loanword as the attempted borrowing (reproduction) of patterns in one language into the target language. The borrowing process usually does not involve any change in word form, pronunciation or meaning. In the Malay language, loanword is known as kata pinjaman whereas Anglicism can be translated to keinggerisan . In this context, loanword refers to a word which originates from English, is considered part of the English vocabulary and not necessarily restricted to the word level. Anglicism on the other hand, may include words, ideas, objects and concepts that are the integral part of the culture and daily life in the United Kingdom.

Loanword in Media Text

The Malaysian advertisement industry has been strongly influenced by the English language. According to Abdul Sukur (2018a), advertisement is one of the earliest medium in Malaysia that promotes Anglicism or loanwords. The reason behind this is that Malay advertisements tend to imitate the West, both in terms of language, as well as advertising content. The same scenario occurs in other countries. For example, in Japan, Western influence is apparent when product advertisers tend to borrow foreign words when naming the local products (Shabudin & Aman, 2012). Transliteration is only used as a guide for consumer to pronounce the product name according to the Japanese phonological system. However, glorifying the Western values through language borrowing, rather than prioritizing local language, may influence the status of the local language and language users’ perception of the language.

Pop and Sim’s (2015) study provides additional information that loanwords and language mixing are accepted in the context of magazine publishing in Romania. Furthermore, English is labelled as a stylish language and is considered prestigious. Rodríguez-Medina (2016) also underlined prestige as a factor that enhances loanword usage in advertising, in addition to factors such as flexibility, linguistic snobbery, and neologisms. However, the ratio between scholars who support loanword and those who oppose it is almost equal (Rogoyska & Zboch, 2016). Borrowing from another language, especially from a language that has higher status and prestige is inevitable considering the dynamic nature of a growing language. From the linguistic and users’ viewpoint, borrowing may enrich the vocabulary of a language and facilitate the exchange of information. However, according to Fischer (2008), opposition to borrowing words from foreign languages stems from the fact that language is considered a symbol of national identity. Since Anglicism embody Anglophone values and culture, it can be regarded as a threat to one’s native language identity.

Loanword and Translation

Borrowing is one of the various translation procedures used in translating and certainly the simplest among them. The translator simply reproduced the source language pattern in the target language accordingly, for example, when translating proper names, brand names, and names of people and company (Dekker, 2014). There are ample studies in translation, especially in Malaysia, that focuses on the effects of borrowing. Omar (2008) notes that many Malay advertisements, especially the translated versions, sound foreign; consequently, consumers may not be able to understand the intended message. Studies by Zhang (2018) on the subtitling of audio-visual contents found that translators who are unacquainted with differences in language systems tend to produce literal subtitles. Naturally, messages in the movies and films would not find their addressees. The fact is, Malay language possesses vast vocabulary and has the capability to be used effectively in any type of medium. Thus, translators are encouraged to adopt the Malay equivalents or use the descriptive translation procedure to explain untranslatable concepts, rather than simply borrowing foreign words, which may lead to confusion.

Basem’s study (2006) on the translation of fast food advertisements from English into Arabic also depicts similar findings where translators prefer the borrowing and transliteration procedures which resulted in incomprehensible messages. Basem argues that although the words are in Arabic, customers find the translated menu difficult to understand as the Western-created concepts do not exist in the Arabic culture. Moreover, acceptance of Anglicism and loanword is not as highly regarded as thought by advertisers. Smith’s study (2002) on the translation of 45 pairs of print advertisements from English to Russian found that foreign elements, i.e., the English language culture and style that exist in the translated versions of the advertisements are regarded as unnatural in Russia.

Problem Statement

Various studies have been carried out on loanwords in general (2015) and loanwords in media text, either in one language or in translation texts which involve two languages (Basem, 2006; Luján-García, 2015; Abdul Sukur, 2018a). These past studies highlight the spread of loanwords in various types of media texts, such as advertisement, television subtitles, and newspaper, through translation activity. The present study also focuses on the translation of advertisement as the research corpus. An advertisement is a type of promotional text, thus, translators are obliged to choose the best translation procedures capable of persuading buyers to buy the advertised product. Every translator, naturally, has his or her own preferences and each translation, for sure, would influence the intended target reader’s action, either, to buy the product or to simply ignore the intended meaning of an advertisement. However, there is little information on what kind of loanwords are translated and what type of translation procedures are applied by translators in translating loanwords. This study, therefore, aims to provide some insights into the translation process, in order to investigate the types of loanwords and the translation procedures used by translators in translating print advertisements.

Research Questions

Taking into account the substantial number of research on loanwords and translation, which reflects the dynamic of both Malay and English languages, the following research questions are proposed:

What type of loanwords are used in the Malay version of print advertisements?

What is the translation procedures opted by translators in translating loanwords into Malay language in print advertisement?

Purpose of the Study

The problem statement indicates the area of concern, i.e., the increasing amount of loanwords in media texts, especially in advertisements. Therefore the first goal of this study is to identify and classify the types of loanwords from English in the Malay version of print advertisements. Since English and Malay are two different languages which represent Western and Eastern cultures as well as language systems, significant changes may be observed and discussed. The second purpose is to determine the type and frequency of translation procedures opted by translators in translating the said loanwords into Malay language.

Research Methods

This section comprises the theoretical framework, overview of research data and methodology.

Theoretical Framework

Haugen’s (1972) definition of loanword, i.e., ‘the attempted borrowing (reproduction) of patterns in one language into the target language’ is used as a starting point to identify loanwords in the source text and the translated version of print advertisements. As translation involves two languages, i.e., the source and target languages, comparison of advertisements in both languages is necessary to list all available loanwords. Since Haugen’s classification of loanwords only consider the English language, Heah (1989) and Abdul Wahid’s (2012) point of view are also utilized and modified to identify and analyse loanwords from the perspective of Malay language. Loanwords that exist in print advertisements are classified into six categories, namely (i) unassimilated loanword, (ii) partially assimilated loanword, (iii) wholly assimilated loanword, (iv) orthographically assimilated loanword, (v) assimilated compound loanword and (vi) truncated loanword. Each category is analysed to determine the translator’s preference in translating the loanwords.

Overview of Research Data

The research data consists of Cosway and Avon products print catalogues. The catalogues are selected as research data because they are accessible in both Malay and English languages. In addition, Mateescu (2017) states that the print media plays a very important role in lexical borrowing and assimilation. Although advertisement consists of various components such as headline, body, slogan, subtitle and illustration, this study focuses on loanwords in advertisement headlines only. According to Pan (2015), headline is the most important component of an advertisement and it is the first thing that attracts readers. Audiences generally do not read the entire advertisement and tend to only read the headlines. Details of the research data are as in Table 01 :

Table 1 -
See Full Size >


The research procedures consist of literature review, data analysis, discussion of findings and overall review. A thorough literature review was made to ensure that this research does not repeat previous studies and in order to find a starting point for formulating the research questions. Based on the two research questions, headlines in the Cosway and Avon catalogues were collected during the three month data collection period. The selected data were then analysed. Haugen’s (1972) definition of loanword is used to identify the loanwords. The selected words were also rechecked in the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary (2015) to ensure that each word exists as an entry in the English language vocabulary. The English and Malay versions were compared and later classified into six categories following Heah (1989) and Abdul Wahid’s (2012) loanword classifications. Translation procedures used by the translators were outlined and populated for its tendency. An in-depth analysis of the findings was made to discuss the implication of loanwords in the Malay language and the consequences of certain translation procedures chosen by translators. Lastly, in the conclusion stage, the research questions were reviewed to assess whether they have been answered or otherwise, based on the data analyses and findings.


Based on the data analysis, a loanword is found to consist of a single word, for example acid or more than one word, eg., acid hydrochloric . In addition, changes do happen to the loanwords when translators absorbed them into the Malay language. This is due to the fact that translators need to consider the linguistic norms of the Malay language, either in terms of pronunciation, spelling, or grammar. A summary of the number of loanwords listed by category can be seen in Table 02 below.

Table 2 -
See Full Size >
Figure 1: Loanwords in Cosway and Avon catalogues
Loanwords in Cosway and Avon catalogues
See Full Size >

Data analysis

Unassimilated loanword is the highest loanword found in the corpus, i.e., 168 in the Cosway catalogue and 75 in the Avon catalogue. The data analysis provides information that this first category of loanword consists of (i) terminology, neologism and jargon, e.g., echinacea and melanin (ii) acronyms e.g., BPA and EPO, (iii) food and plant names e.g., bergamot and muesli, (iv) country names and places e.g., New Zealand and Paris, and (v) brand names e.g., Sweet Honesty and Stock Pot . In these examples, translators simply borrow the source word into Malay without changing the spelling or meaning. Therefore, the source patterns are reproduced in the target language without any change, as highlighted by Haugen (1972) (Figure 01 ).

The second category of loanword is partially assimilated loanword. Only 6 data are found in the Avon catalogue, while more than twice the amount, i.e., 15 are found in the Cosway catalogue. Partially assimilated loanword is a type of loanword that is borrowed without being fully assimilated in the target language system, i.e., in terms of its spelling. According to Abdul Wahid (2012), this loanword is recognizable through foreign syllables such as tl, pr, tr, sk, pl and st in the Malay language. Based on the data analysis, examples of partially assimilated loanwords are prebiotic, where the (syllable pr) is translated as prebiotik, cartridge (syllable tr) is translated as kartrij and scrub (syllable sc) is translated as skrub. In this second loanword example, minor spelling changes occur when the word is translated into Malay.

The third type of loanword is wholly assimilated loanword. A total of 5 loanwords are found in the Cosway catalogue while there are only 4 in the Avon catalogue. Wholly assimilated loanword is a loanword that is fully assimilated and used in the Malay language and culture. Except for linguists who study the historical development of loanwords, even native language users might not be able to recognise it as a loanword. Examples of wholly assimilated loanwords are mesin (from machine), produk (product) and teknologi (technology).

Orthographically assimilated loanword is the second highest type of loanword found in this research data, i.e., 20 in the Cosway catalogue and 5 in the Avon catalogue. This fourth type of loanword is identified through the preservation of source language pronunciation. Examples of orthographically assimilated loanword are bacteria, diet and lotions and the translated words (bakteria, diet, losen, respectively) are pronounced the same as the pronunciation in English.

The fifth loanword is assimilated compound loanword where a total of 7 data is found in the Cosway and Avon catalogue. Assimilated compound loanword is a compound word where both word components originated from English. For example, citric acid is made up of the word citric and acid and both words are translated into the Malay language through the borrowing procedure. The target language grammar is also considered where the loanword is restructured and the spelling is modified to asid sitrik in accordance with the Malay language system.

The last type of loanword is truncated loanword. In this example, the number of syllables in the target language is fewer compared to that of the source text. Only one example is found, i.e., the loanword sensitive which appears in the Avon catalogue. This data shows that the word sensitivity (sen-si-tiv-i-ty, five syllables) is translated to sensitif (sen-si-tif, three syllables). Changes in the number of syllables is due to the difference in the source text and target text pronunciation and spelling as well as adaptation of the word meaning according to the sentence context.


This study demonstrates that print advertisements which are translated into Malay may contain anglicised words or phrases. The finding shows that English words which are borrowed by the Malay language can be classified into six categories. In addition to factors such as colonization and history of the local advertising industry that is associated with the Western world, translation activities also contribute towards the phenomenon of loanword and Anglicism. In the context of translating advertisement texts, word borrowing occurs because of the diversity of the advertised product. The Cosway and Avon catalogues are divided into sections such as cosmetic product, food and beverage, clothing, health supplement, accessories, perfumes, toys, electric and electronic product, slimming product, car accessories and etc. Indirectly, health supplement product section contributes towards term borrowing and acronym in various fields, for example, UVA, UVB, lecithin, hyaluronic acid, viruses, and bacteria. In addition, English words such as effective, modern, exotic, classic, and hipster are often borrowed into the Malay language to promote makeup, perfumes and clothing products.

Loanwords in Malay language occur in two situations. First, the translator simply borrows a foreign word or terminology without changing the spelling or restructuring the word order. This borrowing procedure is chosen as there is no existing concept in the Malay language that is able to convey the meaning of the source language. Foreign products advertised in the local product catalogue has also resulted in the use of Anglicism. Borrowed words and terminologies can be categorised into (i) terminology, neologism and jargon, (ii) acronyms, (iii) food and plant names, (iv) country names and places, and (v) brand names. The number of unassimilated loanword is 243, suggesting that translators in this study tend to use the borrowing or transference procedure in translating headlines from English into Malay. Second, through the naturalisation procedure, the translators borrow and modify the spelling of English words according to the pronunciation, word order and spelling of the Malay language. However, the amount of naturalisation procedure is only 63 (the sum of five categories of loanword). In general, the results of this study indicate a clear preference for the use of Anglicism or loanword in the Avon and Cosway catalogues, whereas assimilated loanword (partially or totally adapted to Malay language) are irrelevant in the corpus.


Media text conventions influence the increase of foreign words in the local advertising medium. The reason may be due to the fact that media texts, particularly in print catalogues, promote local and international products. International products are embedded with the manufacturers and advertisers culture and language systems. Additionally, this study has listed and categorised borrowed English words in the local advertising language. The English loan terms can be categorized into (i) unassimilated loanword, (ii) partially assimilated loanword, (iii) wholly assimilated loanword, (iv) orthographically assimilated loanword, (v) assimilated compound loanword and (vi) truncated loanword. Translators’ preferences also play an important role in the loanword phenomenon in the translated version of Malay language advertisements. Other than translators’ preferences, borrowing also occur because there is a lack of native words in naming or designating particular products in the Malay language advertisements. In this study, the transference procedure (borrowing and retaining the source language pattern) and naturalisation (borrowing with spelling change) are applied in translating loanword.


The authors would like to extend their gratitude to Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia, for providing them with the Short Term Grant (no: 304/PHUMANITI/6315017) which support this research.


  1. Abdul Sukur, A. S. (2018a). Unsur Keinggerisan dalam Tajuk Utama Katalog Bercetak Versi Terjemahan Berbahasa Melayu. KEMANUSIAAN The Asian Journal of Humanities. 25(1), 95-114.
  2. Abdul Sukur, A. S. (2018b). Penterjemahan Bahasa Kreatif dalam Tajuk Utama Katalog Bercetak. Jurnal Penterjemah. XX (1&2), 119-135.
  3. Abdul Wahid, P. R. (2012). Menelusuri Peristilahan bahasa Melayu. Kuala Lumpur: Penerbit Universiti Malaya.
  4. Azizah, N. (2018). Anglicism in Indonesian. Journal of Language Teaching and Literature, 5(1), 61-71.
  5. Basem A. A. A. (2006). The translation of fast-food advertising texts from English into Arabic. (Master’s thesis). University of South Africa. Retrieved May 7, 2013 from
  6. Dekker, B. (2014). Anglicisms in translation: An analysis of English loans in Dutch original and translated cookbooks. (Master’s thesis. Leiden University). Retrieved May 28, 2018 from
  8. Fischer, R. (2008). Introduction: Studying anglicisms. In Fischer, R. & Pułaczewska, H. (Eds.), Anglicisms in Europe (p. 1-15). New Castle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  9. Gerding, C., Fuentes, M., Gómez, L., & Kotz, G. (2014). Anglicisms: An Active Word-formation Mechanism in Spanish. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 16(1). 40-54.
  10. Luján-García, C. (2015). Lexical Anglicisms: An Analysis of Commercials Addressed to Young Children on Four Television Channels in Spain. Onomázein (32), 288-304.
  11. Haugen, E. I. (1972). The Ecology of Language: Essays by Einar Haugen. (Anwar S. Dil., Ed.). Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  12. Heah, C. L. H. (1989). The Influence of English on the Lexical Expansion of bahasa Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
  13. Mateescu, M. (2017). Anglicisms in American Spanish. Special View On The Media. Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, 9(2), 423-434.
  14. Molotkina, Y. O. (2017). Usage of Anglicisms in the Context of Current Language Situation in Ukraine. Психолінгвістика, 21(2), 89-99.
  15. Nathesan, S. (2015). Etimologi bahasa Melayu. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
  16. Núñez Nogueroles, E. E. (2017). Typographical, Orthographic and Morphological Variation of Anglicisms in a Corpus of Spanish Newspaper Texts. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 75, 175-190.
  17. Omar, A. (2008). Bahasa Iklan Perniagaan. Satu Kajian Bahasa Retorik. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka & Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia.
  18. Oxford Advanced Learners’s Dictionary. (2015). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
  19. Pan, L. (2015). Multimodality and Contextualisation in Advertisement Translation: A Case Study of Billboards in Hong Kong. Journal of Specialised Translation, (23), 205-222.
  20. Pop, A. M., & Sim, M. A. (2015). Anglicisms in Romanian Fashion Magazines. Case Study – ELLE, HARPER"S BAZAAR, MARIE CLAIRE. Journal of Languages for Specific Purposes (2), 21-34.
  21. Rodríguez-Medina, M. J. (2016). An Approach to the Study of the Use of English in the Activities of Spanish Gyms. Spanish in Context, 13(1), 129-148.
  22. Rogoyska, A. C., & Zboch, M. (2016). Anglicisms In Online German Newspapers And Magazines. A Quantitative And Qualitative Analysis Of Articles In ‘Die Welt’ ‘Der Spiegel’, And ‘Der Stern’ In February 2016. Social Communication, 2(1), 25-58.
  23. Shabudin, M., & Aman, I. (2012). Wacana dan Ideologi Iklan Produk Kecantikan Berbahasa Jepun. GEMA Online™ Journal of Language Studies, 12(3), 789-816.
  24. Smith, K. L. (2002). The translation of advertising texts. A study of English-language print advertisements and their translations in Russian. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Sheffield. Retrieved 30 May, 2018 from
  25. Zhang, J. (2018). Audiovisual Translation:A Critical Review on Sino-western Perspectives of Film Subtitle Translation. International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies 6(1), 58.

Copyright information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

About this article

Publication Date

23 September 2019

eBook ISBN



Future Academy



Print ISBN (optional)


Edition Number

1st Edition




Sociolinguistics, linguistics, literary theory, political science, political theory

Cite this article as:

Sukur*, A. S. A., & Awang, R. (2019). The Translation Of Loanwords In Print Advertisements. In N. S. Mat Akhir, J. Sulong, M. A. Wan Harun, S. Muhammad, A. L. Wei Lin, N. F. Low Abdullah, & M. Pourya Asl (Eds.), Role(s) and Relevance of Humanities for Sustainable Development, vol 68. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 428-437). Future Academy.