Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Some marketing advice

Our church has a long name. One of the first things you notice in other countries is just how unwieldy it is. We have been hearing TheChurchofJesusChristofLatter-daySaints so often that the individual words don't really register anymore. I took a sign-language class during my college years (I was trying to expand my dating opportunities (don't ask)) and it taught me that you don't read by seeing each individual letter, you just recognize the shape of the word (this is how you can spell so fast in ASL and still be understood).
In foreign languages, you are back to struggling with individual words. And this is how I came to realize that we have a marketing problem with the name of our church in other languages. In Spanish, it is La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias, or translated literally, The Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints of the Last Days. Sounds a little ominous, no? What if your friend told you he had just joined a great group called the Saints of the Last Days? You'd better start saving up for a de-programmer or at least start practicing what you'll say to CNN.
In English, "latter-day" means simply later days, or the present. So why do we translate this to "last days" in other languages? I agree that "Modern-day Saints" or "Present-day Saints" might sound a little weird but either is surely better than the doom and gloom of the "Last Days Saints." We might have more success attracting Spanish-speaking converts with a less apocalyptic name.


Anonymous said...

German: Die Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzten Tage.

16 syllables. If I ever tried to explain where we were from during a door approach, the door was shut before I got through with the name.

NFlanders said...

Funny. On my mission we tended to mumble through the "Latter-day Saint" part. Sometimes people would seize on the name and ask if we were in the last days.

Mike said...

"We might have more success attracting Spanish-speaking converts with a less apocalyptic name."
We're having trouble attracting Spanish speakers?
I thought the sort of folk wisdom in most missions was "keep working elders- every time you go tracting missionaries in South America baptise."

NFlanders said...

Though the church has had great success in South America, it is easy to forget what a drop in the Catholic bucket it is compared to other churches.
We still have a long ways to go.