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?

This post was published for the first time 8 August 2013.


  1. Alex Marsh - February 17, 2020 1:25 pm

    I believe that a content delivering the right meaning is very important than content just having good grammar and punctuation. I would always prefer transcreation over translation as it focuses on the right purpose of the translation.

    • Virvey - February 17, 2020 3:52 pm

      That is exactly the idea of translation. Bad translation does not provide that. The point was not to let bad translation dominate the market and make people call good translation transcreation.

  2. David Rainey - March 6, 2020 9:04 am

    I believe that a good translation and an interpretation can be more effective over transcreation and this way it becomes easier to connect with the target audience and this could end up with effective results.

  3. Charlie Bavister - May 11, 2020 4:01 pm

    Transcreation is going to be a very deciding factor for the translation industry. This is going to make a translation a lot better than before.

    • Virvey - June 24, 2020 2:14 pm

      No Charlie. Good translation is good translation, and transcreation is something else 🙂


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