Skincare Words 101: The Tricky Difference Between ‘Alina’ and ‘Alinta’ in Romanian

Nowhere is aspirational writing more at home than in the fashion and cosmetics industries. Lotions and moisturizers, dresses and accessories will do all sorts of exquisite things to your skin and figure: they hydrate and cleanse, revitalize and smooth, fortify and enliven. They can flatter your silhouette, highlight your natural curves and make you shine. 

From websites to packaging and labels, storytelling reigns supreme and each individual word must fit in with the brief, the co-text and the broader brand image. It must inspire, entertain, sparkle and instruct all at once.

Pesky repetitions must be edited out, the copy must be alluring, lean and impactful. You’ll need a lot of enchanting synonyms for your verbs and adjectives.

But what if you come across words that look similar yet are undoubtedly distinct? Words where a single letter can make a world of difference – or subtly alter the nuance? (a pair of them have crept into this very paragraph – did you catch them?)*

TWINS?! MORE LIKE COUSINS

Take the following two Romanian verbs, for example, which are the bane of language learners and have been known to confuse even advanced speakers (but not natives like YourTranscreator): a alina and a alinta. Both of them very useful in daily life and in product presentations that need a lyrical, melodious appeal.

The first one means to soothe. To alleviate, allay or ease someone’s pain or suffering. To offer solace and relief. To appease. To placate, pacify, mollify.

The second one is a little more difficult to translate and requires more context. It can mean to coddle, pamper, blandish; to address someone using terms of endearment, pet names and affectionate words; but also to indulge. It can function as a transitive or a reflexive verb. “A se alinta” means to act like a spoiled child. And the noun “alint” can even mean hypocorism.

What makes this so confusing is that the Romanian way to appease and placate often goes through indulging, pampering or coddling. Mollifying is often achieved through cosseting. So you see the conundrum. 

THE INDISPENSABLE EYE FOR DETAIL

A similar thing happens in English with the pair coddle cuddle or in German with the pairs erkunden (explore) – erkundigen (make inquiries, ask about something) and gewöhnt (accustomed, used to something) – gewohnt (usual, habitual and – yes… – accustomed).

Which is why you need a linguist trained to pick up on these subtle differences and transcreate them accordingly. For reliable solutions to your linguistic challenges, you need a real word charmer. Someone passionate about source and target languages, cultures and sensibilities. Someone like YourTranscreator.

Are you troubled by similar word pairs? Do homonyms give you a headache? Are you struggling with subtle nuances? YourTranscreator would like to hear from you! Contact me today and let’s discuss (and clarify!) all those tricky passages in your marketing communications!

#translation #transcreation #languageservice

*congrats! the right answer is, of course, word and world.