Most translators, especially professional ones, will understand the difference between transcreation and translation, but the former is still very much an unknown term outside of translation circles. In reality, transcreation and translation differences are not of great interest except for those who want to get their marketing messages, audio recordings and apps translated. Transcreation is basically translation together with some modification to suit a specific audience. A website that is translated, but not transcreated, might not resonate with potential customers, but why?
The secrets of transcreation
The term ‘translation’ is readily understood by everyone. It is similar in many ways to interpreting, but is restricted to text whereas interpreters deal with the spoken word. In many ways, interpreters have the harder job because they not only have to convey the meaning of what someone is saying in language X, but have to convey that meaning in language Y. A literal word for word interpretation often won’t pass muster as it will come over as stilted and wooden. As for translation vs transcreation, transcreation does to translation in text what interpreting does in speech.
Transcreation is mostly important when wads of text need to be translated for people whose dialect may not be the same as the standard language, or they have particular cultural characteristics or sensitivities. Generally speaking transcreation is unnecessary when translating scientific documents and reports or medical documents. In fact, straightforward, professional translation is fine for most text that needs to be translated. However, anything that is designed to appeal to a particular group without upsetting them or when text can be modified so that it is better understood needs transcreation and not just translation.
Transcreators are specialist translators
Translators are rarely generalists and are much more likely to specialise in a certain branch of translation. There are literary translators, marketing translators, scientific, technical and medical translators, legal translators, video and audio translators and app translators. The translators who would most likely be called upon for transcreation skills would be those who deal with marketing, literary and app projects. Translators who work on transcreation projects must be experienced in converting text so that it appeals and resonates with the intended readership yet still basically conveys the same content.
The term ‘transcreation’ implies that the transcreator has a license to interpret a text in such a way that it can be ‘recreated’ to suit a specific purpose, i.e. making the text more understandable and appealing than it might have been if the modifications had not been made.