The Ultimate Guide to Transcreation

May 17, 2018

Content transcreation guide

Only translators have heard the term, “Transcreation.” Yet they may not have a complete idea of what is transcreation, if they have not actually engaged in it, in the course of their translation work.

While many equate translation and transcreation, there is a difference. Translation involves changing text from one language to another, keeping the meaning the same. Now, in translation, the translator does have to use his/her judgment in rendering the change. This is due to nuances of different languages, idioms, etc. that cannot be translated literally.

The use of judgment in translation can probably best be seen in literature, especially poetry, and in song lyrics. The meaning is rendered but the words will not be the same nor in the same order.

To Define Transcreation

Transcreation actually goes beyond translation. While translation attempts to be as literal as possible, transcreation is used when this is not possible.

Transcreation can involve almost a complete re-write of the source text, keeping the meaning and context the same. The goal is that the reader in the target language will understand the full meaning of the text, even though it is nowhere near a literal translation from the source language.

Most transcreation occurs in marketing and advertising niches, where copywriting, slogans, and other materials must convey the same tone, style, and emotions, but will require very different words and even context.

Here’s an example: A toothpaste marketed in the U.S. may focus on its whitening capabilities first and its cavity-fighting benefits second. This would never go over in Vietnam, though, because whitening of teeth is not something that is valued. The Vietnamese chew betel nuts much like some Westerners chew tobacco. And it turns their teeth brown. This is totally acceptable in that culture. The whitening capabilities of a toothpaste are not important; however, the cavity-fighting capabilities may be – no one wants toothaches and dental visits. A transcreation of marketing copy is in order.

Skill Demands of Transcreators

Transcreators are, first and foremost, writers. They are able to craft copy in the target language that will engage a defined audience and yet get the marketing message across. So, those seeking transcreation jobs must be creative writers, as well as skilled in both source and target languages.

Transcreators often work for ad and marketing agencies that specialize in transcreation work. They are employed as the agency’s clientele are looking to expand their marketing messages to an international audience.

The Option for Freelancing

The other option for Transcreators is to freelance. Once they have some agency experience under their belt, they will have the skills but also an understanding that they are taking a client’s general marketing concepts and transforming them into a new message for a new audience.

As a freelancer, Transcreators will find that freelance transcreation rates are different from those of translators. Translators generally charge by the word, because they are rendering full texts and documents into a target language. Transcreators, on the other hand, usually charge by the hour or project, as word count really does not matter – it’s the creation of a new message that counts.

Translators and Transcreators have very different skills and tasks. If you are a creative writer who can convey a message in a new language that sparks the same emotions and tone, then you may be a good candidate for transcreation jobs.