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Everyone knows what translation is. But things get a little more complicated when we refer to localization, even more so with the mention of transcreation.

Are you sure you understand the difference between translation, localization and transcreation? As far as translation is concerned, it’s about conveying a message from one language into another.

Localization is the same as translation, but it also takes into account cultural differences to find the equivalent in another language, which conveys the same message. It’s often used in software, apps and video games.

Transcreation involves going one step further and adding creative flare. The word itself is explicit. Transcreation is the sum of translating and creating.

Transcreation is somewhere in between translation and marketing. It’s used for marketing and advertising texts, and the transcreation process has the following stages:

  1. Reading the content.
  2. Understanding the message (beyond a literal reading).
  3. Digesting the message.
  4. Adding creative flare to the translation to make it sound original and natural.
  5. Revising the text by a marketing expert.

The key consideration here is knowing what degree of creativity a translator can use for the translation. In other words, how much freedom does a translator have in putting forward their version?

The freedom of expression a translator has for transcreation depends on the information given to them. It depends on the following points.

  • The target audience for which the text is intended. Is it aimed at:
    • company managers;
    • families;
    • a particular group, such as people who do sport, single mothers or 7 to 10-year-olds? The more information the better.
  • The text’s aim. Is it for:
    • raising awareness;
    • educational purposes;
    • increasing sales;
    • networking;
    • creating an emotional response;
    • entertainment purposes?
  • The type of text. Is it:
    • an advert for an online publication, the printed press or the television;
    • the title of a book or TV series;
    • for a product brochure – digital/printed?
  • The customer’s preferences (any information that helps the translator to use the correct amount of creative flare the customer wants). Style guides can help in this case.

The more information about the text’s purpose and the customer’s expectations, the better.

This information will also help decide whether localization or transcreation is needed. Once the translator doing the transcreation has this information, they will use their culture-specific and idiomatic knowledge to find the words that best adapt to the target audience and that most suit the text’s purpose.

In all three cases (translation, localization and transcreation), using term glossaries and style guides is essential. That will ensure that, although creative, the text is consistent with other documents by the same brand or company, because the customer’s terms and the general style requirements (correct degree of formality) are used.

When a non-literal translation is required, it’s challenging to know the exact amount of creativity to apply. That’s why it’s crucial to do background research and pull together as much information as possible before starting. The more information available before starting, the fewer changes and additional drafts will be needed later.

If you need help with a translation or you’re unsure whether you need a translation or a transcreation, drop us a line. We’ll be happy to help.

Written by LocalizationLab
Photo “all we have is words” by Alexandra on Unsplash