Vox pop – June 2010

Should foreign language entries be accepted in D&AD Writing For Design?

Tim Rich

No tengo ni idea como los altavoces ingleses se suponen para juzgar si un pedazo escrito en otra lengua es un ejemplo bien escrito de la escritura de diseño. ¿Usted puede tomar una vista en la disposició n y tipografía, pero cámo sabría usted si fue maravillosamente escrito o picado de viruelas por jerga o ideas absurdas? ¿Puede usted contar si esta respuesta haya sido traducida en el español por un traductor principal o simplemente plonked en un robot de traducció n de Internet libre?

Jim Davies

D&AD are caught in the horns of a dilemma here. They have set out their stall as an international awards scheme, so of course they have to welcome entries in any tongue. But even with a translation, it is totally impossible to judge writing in another language – you just don’t get the craft and nuance. I know I’m in danger of discriminating here, but unless you can pull together a multi-lingual jury, I think Writing for Design should be for for entries in English only.

Roger Horberry

Yes. If it’s any good the quality should come through loud and clear (as with this year’s Spanish entries). The more the merrier I say.

Helen Baker

This is an interesting topic, especially as I live in Spain and am subjected (really, it does feel like torture at times!) to things in two or more languages most days.

My initial feeling was how can you judge the quality (encompassing flow, rhythm, nuances and so on) of an original piece in a different language based on a translation?

I feel that most translations, even excellent ones, lose some of the original feeling and add something of the translator’s own style. A much lower-brow example is when I watch English programmes dubbed into Spanish – the translation is good, but so much related to the original language and cultural style is lost.

But I also agree that great concepts should be rewarded. Then again… surely there were some entries that had wonderful ideas but lost out because the writing just wasn’t, well, up to scratch? I think it either has to be a combination of the two (both the concept and the writing must be judged together) or each needs to be considered separately. Which sort of defeats the point, doesn’t it?

Editor’s note:

The background to this is that D&AD currently accepts foreign language entries, as long as a translation is supplied. The judges are asked to assess the work based on the translation. This year, for the first time, there were entries in Spanish, one of which made it into the annual.

John Simmons, chair of judges, has written about the category in general here:

Nick Asbury, one of the judges, has written about the issue here:

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