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Transcreation – new name for quality translation?

I’ve been reminded of the term transcreation quite a few times lately as international agencies specialized in it have approached me through online professional listings. Which is a good thing, absolutely. I couldn’t be happier about working on this type of projects because they are exactly in what I have interest, experience and training.

It’s just that some of the work offered, in my view, is translation, or what I think translation should be when done right, not transcreation.

Let me explain. Through my education majoring in translation studies in the university, I have learned that a good translation should always take into account the vocabulary, grammar, syntax, idiom, communication purpose and context of the target culture while remaining faithful to the original message. If a translation does not achieve this, it is a translation of poor quality, not something that needs to be transcreated in addition to translation.

It should be made clear in both the translation industry as well as the marketing field, and by all means to anyone interested, that transcreation “expands upon translation,” as defined in Wikipedia, by trying to evoke the same emotional response in the target market as in the source market. In addition to linguistic skills and deep knowledge of the target culture, transcreation requires commercial expertise in marketing and understanding of the target market. It is important to remember that transcreation mainly refers to advertising and marketing content as well as the computer game industry. Transcreation is not a synonym for any translation done creatively enough to serve its communication purpose.

The main reason why I think it’s important to make this difference is that if we start to accept translations as something less useful and functional than transcreations, we are letting go of the original profession to make even more room and profit for the thousands of amateurs currently entering the translation business through various online opportunities. What do you think?


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