English-German Translations, UK

Transcreation versus Translation

Transcreation refers to the translation of adverts and slogans. The purpose of the translation is not simply to say the same thing in another language, but also to convey the look and feel of the original text so it has the same impact on readers in another country. A visual example would be to use an Asian model to advertise a product sold in Asia, and a black model to sell the same product in African countries.

An advert text for the English market might focus on two women in an office having a conversation about a product or service. If the same text was to be used in Saudi Arabia, it would have to be adapted to feature a conversation between two men.

Will an advert featuring two children playing on their own in the woods evoke emotions of a carefree, happy childhood in adult viewers, or has the culture in a particular country changed so much that the same images evoke feelings of fear and strong criticism of adults who just let their children face dangerous situations unsupervised?

The use and translation of metaphors also require particular attention. In Northern countries, “to use something like water” means to use it liberally. In many dryer countries, the same expression conveys a sense of using something carefully and sparingly.

A transcreation specialist is therefore first and foremost a creative writer who needs to be briefed far more comprehensively than a translator. The transcreator will need to understand the creative concept underpinning the text and the responses it should produce in the reader or viewer.

Clients should provide a brief, describing all the requirements regarding tone, style, target audience, purpose of the text etc. Ideally, it is advisable for clients to work very closely with transcreators. In many cases, the client asks for two or three versions of the target text including literal back‑translations and explanations for the pros and cons of the various options and the reasons they have been chosen.

Transcreation is charged on an hourly basis but some companies have set rates for short ads at £50-£70 per advert.

This article was written by Erika Baker, Iolante director and English-German translator.

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