Translation vs. Transcreation


A few days ago, a friend of mine mentioned I work as a translator. When I said no “I am a transcreator” she looked at me astonished and asked me what “transcreation” is.


So what is transcreation?

“Transcreation” is a combination of the words “translation” and “creation”. It is sometimes called “creative translation”.

We can use “transcreation” to describe the process of adapting a message from one language to a different one while maintaining the intent, style, tone and context.

When a message is transcreated, it should evoke the same emotions and implications to the reader: it does not only translate words but feelings, reactions and content. Transcreation is focused on conveying the same message and concept in a new language.

Therefore, it is not translating word by word of the source language but adapting a translated text for the target audience.  And, by doing so, it needs to engage that audience.


The difference between transcreation and translation

The translation is about providing and idiomatic and accurate transcription of an original text. A translator has to stay true to the original text and has no creative license.

On the other hand, transcreation implies translating with an artistic license, producing a new text which causes the same display of emotions on a reader using its own language and meaningful images for him.

A translation focuses on the words, it will only change these words into the new language. When transcreating, we can modify the words to create a new text and images and videos can also be adjusted in order to create a meaningful message to the new audience. It tailors the whole message to ensure relevance.


Transcreation in the real world

Developing content that suits multiple markets, languages and cultures involve several techniques and skills. An audience in China will digest content in a completely different manner to one in Spain.

Hence, the purpose of transcreation, is to produce an adequate translation of a message from the original language to the targeted one. Hence, the purpose of transcreation, is to produce and adequate translation of a message from the original language to the targeted one.

In our globalized world, companies want to be relevant everywhere. And here is where texts, websites and marketing campaigns need transcreation.

The goal of transcreation is to keep the meaning and emotion of text while adapting to a new audience’s culture.

Thus, a trancreator should have some particular skills in order to be successful:

  • Knowledge about the local values and beliefs, a transcreator should have shared, lived and breathed the language, humour, trends of the language and they need to be up-to-date on the cultural and sociopolitical news and events of the market.
  • Creativity, as they have an artistic license to play with words, rhythm, proverbs and emotions in order to make them work creatively and accurately in the target market.
  • Expertise in marketing, a good transcreation provider will research and understand the target market and the best way to reach them.
  • Empathy and sensibility must understand the desired outcome, it must evoke the same emotional response in the targeted language as it did in the source one.
  • Adaptability as some content calls for a cool, professional tone but other pieces require a much conversational style. Transcreators need to be able to roll with these sudden changes in voice and tone.

Passion or otherwise the text in the targeted language will be boring and meaningless for the new audience.

And what is transcreation used for?

Transcreation is used for a wide range of purposes. Recently, we tend to think in one use: marketing strategies, but that is far from being its only use.

Advertising and Marketing

Companies must deliver a global proposition in a way that resonates locally. Each culture frames its implicit presumption about what life is and about what is desirable.

Therefore, these professions make heavy use of transcreation when it comes to selling products and build up brands in different countries.

Social Media Content

Transcreation is also used for videos and for social media content. That content needs to grab people’s attention at a glance or else it will not stand out from the rest of the social information we all filter. The message has to capture the attention in order for it to be read and acted on.


Televisual Content

Artistic transcreation can also apply to televisual content.

There are a few examples of TV series and movies on which settings and characters were altered significantly when they were presented to the new viewers.

Spots and TV commercials require also transcreation works. Not only on language terms, but switching out text titles and images, re-doing the spot’s color palette or even re-editing entire sequences.


Mobile Apps

When digital content is not localized to a market it will be translated by Google when viewed from a foreign IP address and so it will not connect to the new users.

Mobile users want their smart phone to be personalized and unique, thus it needs to speak their own language.  And mobile apps, even if they have low content volumes require a high level of transcreation.


Video Games

By connecting with players, a game can dramatically increase its profits. And transcreation in video games improves the overall gamer experience.

At the end of the day, video games are supposed to be fun and the gamer should be immersed in the world created by game developers.


Do you have any question about transcreation? Contact us, we love to talk about transcreation and will give you all answers you need.

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