Our specialist in Transcreation, José Gervilla, answers a few common questions on this technique:
You may have heard of transcreation as it relates to businesses and their internationalization. But, why is this technique needed in translation?
Transcreation translates ideas, concepts, feelings, and reactions in an effort to provoke the same impact on all people, regardless of their culture.
What makes it different from translation? How is a translator different from a transcreator?
I would say the most significant difference lies in the perspective from which they take on one task or another.
Transcreators do no limit themselves to translating a message from one language to another, rather they look to ensure that the target audience — which can be highly different from the original audience — receives the same message in the most effective way possible. This often involves setting the source text aside, starting from scratch, and finding the most “local” way to express an idea. Other times it requires exactly the opposite: impressing the reader with something new that they're not used to seeing.
While translation is not a creative pursuit, per se, transcreation very much is, as the source material is nothing more than context: the themes at play, the message to be conveyed, the target audience, etc. By evaluating all these factors together, the transcreator creates the “translated” text: copy, a slogan, a landing page, etc.
What content is suitable for translation?
I don’t think there is any content that cannot be translated; when it comes to advertising content that requires fine tuning the message as much as possible for the target audience, the same is true. While it may sound counterintuitive, there is always some other way to tell the same story to a different audience, even using a completely different story.
On the other hand, English is often used as a lingua franca in advertising. It works a lot of the time, but not with all messages nor with all audiences.
The transcreator may determine that the best way to convey the message is in English. Nevertheless, as a fundamental part of transcreation, it is crucial to evaluate the path and not jump directly into English without consulting a professional who knows the target culture in depth..
Why is the focus on the message?
I believe that focusing on the message is what truly separates transcreation from translation, as well as that extra bit of creativity.
When translating, you need to consider the subtext so as not to lose any nuance; in transcreation, you need to read between the lines and create completely new content using the subtext as the springboard. The text is thrown away, but the message is retained.
What benefits does this technique provide? What is the goal?
Out of ignorance, often times we expect completely unique content from a general translation. Translation helps us to understand a message.
Transcreation goes one step further: whether starting from an advertisement text or from something more abstract, we are able to connect with the specific audience we are addressing.