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Translation, transcreation and localization


'Dictionary' photo (c) 2004, jwyg - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Today I was asked by a colleague to evaluate a translation that seemed absolutely horrible to the client. As I was reading the translation and the client's remarks, it dawned on me that the client actually needed transcreation, not translation. But since the term "transcreation" is fairly new, not all clients realize that that's what they actually need when they ask for "translation". So would you like to do a little research with me about it? Let's start then :)



So, what is transcreation? Let's see what Wikipedia says:

Transcreation is a term used chiefly by advertising and marketing professionals to refer to the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. A successfully transcreated message evokes the same emotions and carries the same implications in the target language as it does in the source language. Increasingly, transcreation is used in global marketing and advertising campaigns as advertisers seek to transcend the boundaries of culture and language.
Terms with meanings similar to transcreation include ‘creative translation’, ‘cross-market copywriting’, ‘international copy adaptation’, ‘marketing translation’, ‘internationalization’, ‘localization’ and ‘cultural adaptation’. For each of these words and phrases, the thrust is similar: taking the essence of a message and re-creating it in another language or dialect.
Do you see the difference? Of course, translation is also creative work because we don't translate words. We translate meanings. In every language there's a countless number of idioms, slang expressions, concepts which simply can't be translated literally. But transcreation goes even further. A transcreator takes the source text as a basis and "expands upon translation by focusing not so much on the literal text, but on discerning the emotional response by viewers in the source language and working to elicit the same response from viewers in the target market. It is about “taking a concept in one language, and completely recreating it in another." (quote taken from Wikipedia, same article)

It may seem that the term "transcreation" is very close to localization. But localization is a broader concept. You can read the wonderful description of localization in Bunch Translate blog. The difference between them is that localization isn't just about a text, but it's about a product. And of course, when translating small buttons of a website I don't think about emotions that the website users may have when clicking on those buttons ;)

Well, thanks for taking part in this (very) small research tonight! Hope you find it useful.

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