Transcreation VS translation

8 octobre 2020

What we know as transcreation is a portmanteau of ‘translation’ and ‘creation’. It is a concept of translation studies that is not only a fusion of two words, but also the fusion of concepts, translating and copywriting. While translation requires the translator to adapt to the structure, style, and tone of the source text, transcreation explores the creativity of translation. This does not mean that translation is not creative. In fact, the inherent change of sentence structure, expressions, synonyms when a document is translated is also creative, except when a word for word translation is expected, which is rarely the case. Unlike Translation, translator beyond transposing the source text in the target language, they can tweak and creatively add details to reach a target audience. That does not mean that the translator is given total freedom to create as they go, they have a source text which serves a  reference for style, tone, intention, and context.

Certain texts need transcreation, especially in Marketing and advertising. International marketing is one of the fields that paved the way for transcreation, the need to adapt to a market with a different cultural context. Transcreation is strategic and its aim is to sell to a different culture using the same idea, engagement, mechanisms etc. It involves the introduction of new meaning and contexts that adapts to the target culture. Used mostly in advertising, video games, blog articles, slogans, branding,  and mobile apps, it goes beyond translation to make the original message worthy of appreciation by an intended audience in different language. A very practical example is adapting slogans to different cultures; the fact that a slogan is understood and appreciated in a culture does not mean that would be the case in another. Transcreation helps avoid cultural blunders, which can be harmful to a communication campaign.

Though transcreation has become quite popular today in the relevant field, it is not totally independent of translation, it is as the name implies, creative translation. As valuable as transcreation is in advertising and marketing, the same cannot be said for certain types of translation, e.g. technical translation, where the translator can neither stray from the original text nor add changes to the text. Technical texts remain as they are in every language. Other types of translation like literary translation require a little bit creativity, but probably not as bold as in transcreation for marketing.

Professionally, a translator does not automatically make a transcreator , and a copywriter does not necessarily make a translator. Both  require education, experience, and skills in their respective fields. However, a translator may also possess copywriting skills, and a copywriter may possess the same linguistic skills as the translator. Both need an extensive knowledge of the source and target languages. Though a transcreator  needs the brainpower to research and analyse the target market from a cultural and business perspective.  Therefore, it is important for clients to clearly understand and specify the services they need when they have a content to translate. Who is it intended for? Would they like to have the same style and emotional resonance in the target language?

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