Now more than ever it is important to know your audience when translating. In most cases you cannot simply just use “straight translation”. Transcreation or adapting is a fairly new concept and name to some. I often get asked what the difference between translation and transcreation is by many of my clients. Here is a fairly broad overview.

Transcreation involves recreating the text for the final audience. You might ask, “Isn’t that what translation is supposed to do: express the same tone, thoughts and feelings as the source text?” Yes and no. Translators are responsible for translating to the best of their ability with the working knowledge of their field, mother tongue, and locale to ensure the language nuances are correct. Some translators are even more inclined to take creative liberties with their writings. These specific translators might be used for special marketing or advertising projects. However, when it comes time to really establish a creative piece, or you have a very specific market or demographic pinpointed, this is where transcreation comes into play. Take marketing and advertising copy for instance. This is the type of copy to which the term transcreation is usually applied. It contains all the different aspects such as emotion and cultural references, making it difficult to create a straight translation. Translating these texts therefore requires a lot of creativity and the need of a skilled transcreator educated to the highest degree not only in both languages but the industry as well.

One other example for when transcreation is needed is when one needs to adapt a form to a lower reading level. This is common practice with many forms in the medical fields and at hospitals. It is important to transcreate the source text so that someone with a 5th or 6th grade reading level can still get the intended complete meaning without struggling with the complex or unknowing vocabulary, but many times with transcreation the goal is different than it is with translation. It is not always about saying the same thing in both languages as it is to get the same reaction in both languages.