Have you heard of the word transcreation? It is a blend of translation and creation and has become incredibly popular in the marketing and advertising sectors. Transcreation highlights the linguist's creative role and how they must be not only translators, but also creative writers. In this blog article we will explain what transcreation is, when to use it and the challenges it presents.
While translation is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “the process of translating something from one language to another”, transcreation translates concepts, feelings, reactions and ideas. It adapts a text to make it culturally appropriate for the target audience and is therefore not usually a word for word translation but rather quite different from the original, whilst still retaining the essential message needing to be transmitted.
Independent of the country or culture from which it originates, transcreations ensure a message has the same impact and evokes the same emotions in the new target audience. It is the task of adapting a translation whilst taking into account the cultural aspects and the text’s intended purpose (i.e. marketing, advertising etc.) so that the message conveyed in the target text is culturally sensitive and relevant for that particular market.
When you need a more creative translation
In a world where globalisation is constantly growing, transcreation has become essential when adapting the translation of different products, not only to a different language but also to a different culture. Transcreation is typically used in the translation of advertising and business texts, slogans, videogames, audio-visual texts and poetry.
As previously mentioned, transcreation contains the word creation and indeed, creativity is the most challenging aspect in this process. The translator needs to make important creative decisions, not only needing an in-depth knowledge of the target language and culture, but also the knowledge of how to write creatively. In transcreation, the linguist has more freedom and therefore they will need to be more imaginative. The translator will need to distance themselves from the original text somewhat, sometimes even completely, to achieve the same reaction in the target audience through new cultural references and expressions.
Take the example of Dany Boon’s 2008 French film Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis. The local inhabitants are known for pronouncing ‘s’ with an ‘sh’ sound, which leads to multiple comic misunderstandings. However, this proves tricky when translated for subtitling purposes, as different markets would naturally use different words, that would not be affected by this sound in the same way. In one particular scene, a local is explaining that the furniture of a room is missing as it belonged to someone else (les siens) which the main character hears as the dogs (les chiens). In the English subtitles, the confusion is instead over office (written ‘offish’) and a fish. In the Spanish subtitles, the confusion is over yours (suyos written ‘shuyos’) which is heard as bargains (chollos). Even the name of the film (loosely translated as Welcome to the land of Ch’tis [Ch’ti being the Northern dialect of France]) presented transcreation challenges. The English title settled on Welcome to the Sticks, owing to the remote feel of the town, situated far in the North of France that the main character finds himself in, whereas the Spanish went with Bienvenidos al Norte, simply meaning Welcome to the North.
At GlobaLexicon, we know in the importance of transcreation. When called upon, we make sure to use all our creative writing skills to ensure your message will be adapted for your target audience and delivered to the highest quality.