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JP

You can’t find meaning in the dictionary.

When I first came to the US, as a student in high school, I played this game with myself where I had to figure out the meaning of at least a new word per week, without ever checking the English-Portuguese dictionary. First I had to recognize the sound in a sentence, and know where the word started and ended was already tough because some people talked so fast that you couldn’t even pick-up where the pauses happened. Then I had to try and imagine the meaning based on the context and only then I would try to guess how to spell it. But sometimes I had to ask for help, and the only rule was that I couldn’t ask for a translation… though I could ask for an explanation or a synonym. This game was how I was able to retain my vocabulary and apply the words and the structure of the sentences in English without first translating from Portuguese in my head. I didn’t realize until later on in my career in advertising how this learning process actually helped me understand this gap between what brands want to say and what their customers need to hear. That’s how I see a copywriter’s job. Someone who is fluent in two languages and has the ability to interpret the codes and keep the conversation between these two strangers going as if they were both speaking the same language.

This concept is simple, and I invite you to dive into it with me in this program I teach called Copywriting as a Second Language, as I’ve mentioned on a few of the previous posts on my blog, and you can find more information on the page Learn on my website. But even if you don’t, I still want you to be able to see how you can communicate your brand’s message using any media in a much more effective way, when you realize your customer doesn’t speak your brand’s language. Play that game and see if you can learn their language, just like I learned English. Listen to them, try to make sense of their noise, and don’t worry about your accent. But if you ever need an interpreter, you know where to find me.

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