Losing "Cool" in Translation

In the journal Communication Theory, USC Annenberg Clinical Associate Professor Paolo Sigismondi poses the question, "What is 'cool?'" The word itself is difficult to convey in other languages, presenting a "translation gap." Such gaps are indicative of a global zeitgeist and can be used to analyze broader international communication issues, writes Sigismondi. 

Through in-depth analysis of the meanings of "cool," including the soft power dimensions of a "global cool," the article delves into the term's association with global popular culture and the soft power of English-speaking nations. 

"The creation and international diffusion of cool, illustrated with the translation gap presented by its untranslatability as it crosses national and cultural borders, increases the soft power of the nations in the Anglosphere," Sigismondi notes. "The realm of cool has indeed become a distinctive communication battleground, where nation states create and sustain dimensions of soft power globally."

Read the full article, "Exploring Translation Gaps: The Untranslatability and Global Diffusion of 'Cool,'" in the August 2018 edition of Communication Theory here