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How to do a transcreation
Thread poster: Nick Brisland, BA (Hons), AITI

Nick Brisland, BA (Hons), AITI
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:39
Member (2013)
German to English
Jun 10, 2014

First of all, I have absolutely zero experience in transcreation - so this post may sound completely ignorant, naive and ridiculous - so please bear with me!. Transcreation is something I would like to have a go at though.

I think I've got a pretty good idea of the concept of transcreation, but I'm not quite sure about exactly how to go about doing a transcreation.

I've come up with a couple of ideas:

1) You translate the document as normal, but change, edit and re-word anything which needs it. In doing this you would keep in mind any sort of brief you have been given, and any changes or edits would reflect that brief. I appreciate that this way of doing things may not be appropriate for things like slogans and taglines, which may need to be completely re-created.

2) If you've been given a brief, write your text directly from that, and only look at the original after having written your text, to make sure you have communicated all relevant information and the correct style. I guess this may be more time consuming though.

3) If you have no brief - make your own. Read the source text and make note of the style, tone and message, as well as important points on the content, i.e. content that must be present in the translation. You would then write your text based off this brief.

In essence, my question is: 'transcreators, how does your workflow for transcreation differ from a normal translation?'

Once again, apologies if I am wildly off-course with any thing I have written here - any advice would be greatly appreciated!


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:39
German to Swedish
+ ...
Workflow Jun 10, 2014



In essence, my question is: 'transcreators, how does your workflow for transcreation differ from a normal translation?'


It doesn't differ at all. Why should it? A translation always has a target audience that the style must be adapted to.

Workflow:
1. Write.
2. Rewrite.

In marketing copy, obviously "flow and appeal" is much more important than "does my word choice correspond to the original meaning".


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:39
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
No difference Jun 10, 2014

Every good translation is, or should be, a transcreation.

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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:39
German to Swedish
+ ...
Yes Jun 10, 2014

Tina Vonhof wrote:

Every good translation is, or should be, a transcreation.


Precisely.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Tina. Jun 10, 2014

Even the driest of legal documents is transcreation. Obviously you have to stick closely to the original in (say) a contract, which conveys large amounts of factual information, but you should still be rewriting, rearranging sentences and making the text sound like it was written in your target language. In other cases, such as advertising and marketing, you may have more creative leeway. But the principle is the same, and I don't really accept the translation/transcreation distinction.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hear, hear Jun 10, 2014

Joakim Braun wrote:

Tina Vonhof wrote:

Every good translation is, or should be, a transcreation.


Precisely.


Total agreement.


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xxxxxLecraxx
Germany
Local time: 18:39
French to German
+ ...
transcreation=just another word for translation? Jun 10, 2014

Every good translation is, or should be, a transcreation.


I do not agree. Many translations need to be very close to the original text. But this doesn't mean they're not good. Or is 'transcreation' just another word for 'translation'? Many translators offer 'transcreation' as an additional service.

'Transcreation' as I understand it is more suited to marketing texts etc., where the translator usually has a broad latitude to be creative.


Obviously you have to stick closely to the original in (say) a contract, which conveys large amounts of factual information, but you should still be rewriting, rearranging sentences and making the text sound like it was written in your target language.


Yes, but that's just normal translating.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:39
Russian to English
+ ...
All translation is creation--no matter what type of text you are translating Jun 10, 2014

Even document translation is a creative process. Any product of the translating process is really a brand new text. No matter what you call it--translation or transcreation--it all involves writing the text anew--in another language: just the meaning should stay intact.



[Edited at 2014-06-10 19:07 GMT]


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dropinka  Identity Verified
Italy
English to Italian
+ ...
The way I proceed Jun 10, 2014

Hi Nick,

Nick Brisland wrote:

I think I've got a pretty good idea of the concept of transcreation, but I'm not quite sure about exactly how to go about doing a transcreation.


It always depends on the type of copy. A first major difference can be made between above-the-line copy (TV commercials, print ads, billboards) and below-the-line copy (brochures, newsletters and the like). The former usually requires greater creative effort, but not always.

Nick Brisland wrote:

I've come up with a couple of ideas:

1) You translate the document as normal, but change, edit and re-word anything which needs it. In doing this you would keep in mind any sort of brief you have been given, and any changes or edits would reflect that brief. I appreciate that this way of doing things may not be appropriate for things like slogans and taglines, which may need to be completely re-created.

This may hold true for below-the-line copy, I suppose. But again, it depends -- you may want to change the order of the information contained in the source, merge sentences or even omit some elements altogether. Besides, you may want to take a completely different approach, if the one used in the original is not suitable for the target market and culture.

Nick Brisland wrote:
2) If you've been given a brief, write your text directly from that, and only look at the original after having written your text, to make sure you have communicated all relevant information and the correct style. I guess this may be more time consuming though.

I personally read both the brief and the original copy and take it from there.

Nick Brisland wrote:
3) If you have no brief - make your own. Read the source text and make note of the style, tone and message, as well as important points on the content, i.e. content that must be present in the translation. You would then write your text based off this brief.

I suppose so, but I always get some sort of brief.

Nick Brisland wrote:
In essence, my question is: 'transcreators, how does your workflow for transcreation differ from a normal translation?'

For transcreation I am always asked to provide multiple options, backtranslation and comments/rationale to explain my choices, which makes it very different from "plain" translation.

I know I haven't been of much help here, but it's very hard to talk about transcreation without making specific examples.

Claudia


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:39
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Translation practice Jun 10, 2014

Although each translation is a transcreation in the broadest sense, the actual workflow for a transcreation project depends on the wishes of the agency. Some of them want you to work in quite complicated Word or Excel tables and require 3 or 4 different translations of every sentence and comments and ratings for those versions. Most of them want back translations in their own language.

This means that:
- The use of CAT tools is too complicated. This does start to hurt when the same end client comes back for more.
- Charging per source word is too complicated/suicidal.
- I sometimes have to transcreate from e.g. French to Dutch, while having to add English back translations and comments.
- You have to proofread your work again and again.

You always get a brief, only normal translators have to make up their own briefs. Depending on the brief and the actual copy you decide about a strategy to transcreate the text. Sometimes the slogan is very important for your transcreation (auto emoción), sometimes it lingers in the background (Wir leben Autos). The target audience can be very narrow (dentists about to retire, affluent students) or very broad (women, gamers, car drivers).

We are a low-priced link in the transcreation chain. The agency that hires you feeds very expensive professionals with your affordable work. Our transcreations should be at the safe side (although you can always add one zany version), the professionals will give it an edge. Your most important job is to give copy writers a piece of text they can work with and depend on, so they won’t lose precious time.

Good luck transcreating,
Gerard


[Edited at 2014-06-10 23:10 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:39
English to German
+ ...
The term transcreation should not be watered down Jun 11, 2014

and should not turn into a synonym for localization.

Transcreation (aside from slogans or headlines) is much closer to copy writing and often requires information of the source text to be omitted, added or to be completely changed. Technically, transcreation means to recreate and to rewrite a marketing text in a way that goes way beyond localization and the source text will serve as a briefing only. Not every marketing text requires transcreation.

If we start to declare each and every translation to be some sort of transcreation, we will allow prices for this challenging and extremely time-consuming work to be watered down, too - and very soon buyers will believe that a few cents per word are perfectly acceptable for this creative task - after they had paid several thousands to their advertising agency to create the original.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:39
English to German
+ ...
I was curious how Wikipedia might define transcreation Jun 11, 2014

They do indeed use an excellent example:

"To market a contraceptive product for females to two separate populations – U.S. English-speakers and U.S. Latinas, a pharmaceutical company created an advertising campaign that looked and “felt” the same, but appealed in different ways to their targeted audiences. The main thrust for the English version was about convenience and that for the Spanish version was about freedom of choice. These choices reflected the transcreators’ research on what drives women in each demographic to choose contraceptive products."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcreation


Changing the USP in the ad copy - that's real transcreation because the translator has taken on the adaption work for which usually an ad agency in the target country would be hired.


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dropinka  Identity Verified
Italy
English to Italian
+ ...
Not quite, as far as I'm concerned Jun 11, 2014

Gerard de Noord wrote:

We are a low-priced link in the transcreation chain. The agency that hires you feeds very expensive professionals with your affordable work. Our transcreations should be at the safe side (although you can always add one zany version), the professionals will give it an edge. Your most important job is to give copy writers a piece of text they can work with and depend on, so they won’t lose precious time.


In my experience, transcreation is the end product -- the "transcreated" copy becomes a new original for the target market. That's why transcreation requires copywriting skills and not just translation skills (with all due respect to translation, of course).

Claudia


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:39
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
What you're describing is more the work of a competent translator. Jun 11, 2014

Gerard de Noord wrote:

We are a low-priced link in the transcreation chain. The agency that hires you feeds very expensive professionals with your affordable work. Our transcreations should be at the safe side (although you can always add one zany version), the professionals will give it an edge. Your most important job is to give copy writers a piece of text they can work with and depend on, so they won’t lose precious time.


Sorry, I don't agree here. The whole point of transcreation is that the client pays the translator a hefty sum of money to give their text edge, and to ensure it will appeal to the target audience. If edge and appeal require a zany element, my text will feature a zany element. Some clients have had trouble trusting me on that, but I found that it's generally the cost-cutters who have trouble with trust. My reaction is simply to raise my rates as a way of showing them I know what I'm doing.


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:39
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Sorry, no. Jun 11, 2014

LilianNekipelov wrote:

Even document translation is a creative process. Any product of the translating process is really a brand new text. No matter what you call it--translation or transcreation--it all involves writing the text anew--in another language: just the meaning should stay intact.



[Edited at 2014-06-10 19:07 GMT]


No.
If you're translating a manual, you need to keep every bit of information and you only add stuff if you notice something's missing in the original.

If you're translating a contract, you need to stick clearly to the original. You can't go changing the salary according to the going rate in the target language country, or removing a clause that would be illegal there.

What you're describing is just translation.

Transcreation is for marketing and advertising. If a French restaurant is advertising its plump snails from Burgundy and cheese made from raw milk that packs a punch, I'm going to change the pitch, because you can't get an English tourist to try smelly cheese and snails on the strength of them being traditional, local dishes. You have to appeal to their sense of adventure by saying something like "you can't say you've been to Burgundy unless you've tried our snails".


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