When translation becomes transcreation
Posted on July 4, 2013 by Chris
Put at its simplest, transcreation means the adaptation of a message from one language to another without dramatically changing its intent, style, tone and context; it involves taking the essence of a message and recreating it in another language.
Many would argue that all good translations are also works of transcreation, as any good translator always attempts to consider the images and emotions a text evokes. A technical or legal text, however, requires sticking faithfully to the original text, as small deviations could have dire consequences: nor do these kind of texts deal with the conveyance of emotions.
Transcreation is therefore used almost exclusively in sales and marketing, where a direct translation is often inadequate, from brochures and posters to websites and TV commercials. The translation of marketing texts requires large amounts of creativity: A successfully transcreated message creates an identical set of emotions and brings the same implications in the new language as was intended by the source message.
Transcreation is not the same as translation, as the translator receives no brief requiring them to remain faithful to the original text. The concept, message and emotion evoked in the reader/listener must be the same, but how this is achieved depends on the skill and imagination of the transcreator.
The many cultural differences that exist across the global market mean that eliciting the same emotional reaction in the target audience can require major changes to the context of the message, from steering clear of offensive terms to finding new puns and slogans, both visually and in writing.
Transcreators will often be asked to provide a few alternative translations, especially within the construction of taglines. They will also provide a back translation to the end client, who may not understand the target language, to help them get a good picture of what the translated text may sound like. If necessary, transcreators should also provide relevant cultural background information to explain what changes were made and why.
In sales and marketing, transcreation is intended – and chosen over straight-forward translation – as a way of avoiding the pitfalls of cross-cultural marketing. These include puns, which rarely work in translation, a brand name that is inappropriate or even offensive in another country, as well as cultural differences.
Finding the balance between global and local is never simple, especially when planning an international brand campaign; transcreation allows local marketers to take the essence of a global marketing message and tailor it to their market.
What kind of skills must a good transcreator have? A transcreator must be gifted both as copywriter and translator: he or she must possess excellent understanding of both source language and target language, as well as a knowledge of both cultural backgrounds and the product being advertised.
Good transcreators are Marketing Translation Specialists. They will often be asked to reference the company imagery and find a pun in limited space, maintaining the same fixed layout as in the source text.
For a guarantee of expert transcreation with in-house quality assurance, always ensure your translation, transcreation or localisation service is UKAS accredited or similar.