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Translation and Transcreation – What’s the Difference?

Last Updated On: July 10, 2017 by The Migration Translators

Translation and Transcreation – What’s the Difference?
Last updated:December 18th, 2014 by The Migration Translators

When material must be translated to suit a particular market, it needs to be much more than word for word or phrase for phase translation. It has to take into account the local culture. The need for a transcreation service– which is what this type of localisation technique is called – is greatest when a product is being marketed in a new target market. The whole product image – slogans, brand look and feel has to be carefully re-crafted so that it retains the brand message while getting that message across to who it is intended to be sold to.

Very often the need for transcreation services arise because the way the product is described in the home language is itself idiomatic, or involves innuendo or a subtle metaphor which simply won’t work using traditional translation methods elsewhere. The English language, perhaps more than any other language, can have multiple meanings for the same word. It is the context in which a word is used which provides the actual meaning. Take a simple example. The word “shot” could mean something that comes out of the barrel of a gun, a photographic capture, the hitting of a golf ball by a golf player or even a drink. Translate the words “great shot” into Chinese and the possibility for confusion becomes obvious as there may be different words in Chinese for each of the four examples given above.

Transcreation is likely to cost a company more than simple marketing translation as it involves more time and effort on the part of the translators. A translation company that offers transcreation services is likely to have staff that are embedded in both cultures – the home language and culture and the target language and culture. That could mean familiarity with a specific market within a wider target culture too – for instance it may be adjusted and oriented towards a specific age group, gender preference or ethnic group within the wider community.

Transcreation may be just as important when it comes to marketing your products even when the language is the same – companies that have been used to marketing their products in the United Kingdom may need to change their marketing language when targeting a new customer base in the United States, India, South Africa or Australia – all places where theoretically English is an important first or second language.