Translators face various tasks – some are quite straightforward and demand more additional knowledge in a given industry (finance, accounting, engineering, medicine, etc.) such as the translation of documents, while others are more creative – e-learning localization or translation of books and poetry.

In most of the cases, the translation is done into the mother tongue and there aren’t many translators who translate into a foreign language. This is done to ensure that the linguistic nuances of the text are respected, which is achieved better when working in your native language. Nevertheless, there are no two translators who will render the source text into the target language in exactly the same way. Naturally, there will be more differences in the translation of a poem compared to a translation of a machine manual due to the essence of the texts.

There is yet another field, however, where translation is very specific. This is the area of marketing, where various slogans and ads are rendered from one language into another. As the process is a bit different than the usual translation, this service is called transcreation. Below you will find more details about transcreation and how it differs from translation.

What is Translation?

As per the definition given by the Oxford dictionary, translation is The process of translating words or text from one language into another” and also “A written or spoken rendering of the meaning of a word or text in another language.” Accuracy and grammatical correctness are one of the most important attributes of a good translation. While it is expected from translators to be creative in choosing the best words and phrases that best transfer the text in their mother tongue, they should be very cautious in rendering the message the same way it sounds in the source language.

Literary translations give much more space for creativeness when it comes to descriptions or translation of rhymed verses. The most creative jobs in translation remains the rendering of slogans and advertisements from one language into another.  Here comes transcreation with all its demands and challenges.

What is Transcreation?

Trascreation is a relatively young term and its meaning is still being clarified. As per the MacMillan Dictionary, transcreation is “a distinct translation process that is mainly used to describe the adaptation of advertising and marketing copy.” 

Transcreation was registered as UK Trademark No. 2222617 by United Publicity Services Plc in 2000 and expired in February 2010.

The idea of transcreation, however, dates back to the 1960s and 1970s when it was used for the translation of creative ad copy. At a later stage, the term was used to denote a specific and separate process related to the translation of creative language.

The aim of transcreation is not to simply transfer the meaning from the source into the target language but to convey its look and feel. As an example, a model advertising clothes in an European country will be of European origin, while the model for Asian countries will be of Asian origin. Or if the company is referring to its most notable clients it will list Facebook or Virgin America if targeting American clients and Yamaha or ANA for the Japanese auditorium. The purpose of the transcreation is to make the slogan or ad have the same impact on the public from different countries.

Quite often, the experts dealing with transcreation are also copywriters. The reason not to use only copywriters but translators is to make sure that the experts can sense the subtle nuances of the slogan or ad in the source language in order to recreate the same feeling in the target language. Using merely copywriters, who do not have that profound knowledge of the source language and culture, will not do the trick.

How do Translation and Transcreation Differ?

Having said all of the above, it is obvious that translation and transcreation differ in many ways. Here are a few of the most notable differences:

  1. Translation is usually done by one person, while transcreation is created by a team of experts.
    Usually one translator works on a given document, or if it is too long it can be split between two or more colleagues depending on the deadline. They all work fairly independently though, and finally the text is checked by a proofreader. In transcreation a team of experts, including copywriters work together to create the perfect slogan or ad for a given language or market. Besides, there is constant communication with the client, who initially receives a brief on the proposed task and approves it.
  2. The payment for translation is by word, while transcreation is billed by the hour.
    Similarly to other creative services, such as copywriting, video production or graphic design, transcreation is billed by the hour or by the project.
  3. Translation renders exactly the same message, while transcreation results in a new, more creative messaging.
    The message created specifically for one audience might not resonate with people from other cultures and locations. Therefore, unlike translation where the message is simple rendered in another language, here the message is created a new. It should have the same impact and influence on the target group but should not necessarily use the same words.
  4. Translation focusses on accuracy and grammar, while transcreation is focused on look and feel.
    The look and feel of a creative campaign are of high importance in transcreation. Language accuracy and grammar should by all means be taken into account as well, but they are not the main focus of the task.

The people dealing with transcreation should be creative writers in their mother tongue, who are very well aware of the source language and can sense the cultural nuances the message bears. The job of these specialists is quite attractive and challenging at the same time, as often they need to deal with specific jargon or play with the words in a particular way in order to achieve the desired effect.

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