Translating and transcreating: what are the differences? Many new businesses are looking into expanding into the world market. One of the biggest challenges that they face is advertising their brand in a way that appeals to the local demographic. You may be thinking that you only need to hire a translator to get the job done. This will not get you the results you are looking for, you need transcreation. I decided to interview one of our professional transcreators, Celia G., to show you why they are an essential part of any global company.
Many new businesses are looking into expanding into the world market. One of the biggest challenges that they face is advertising their brand in a way that appeals to the local demographic. You may be thinking that you only need to hire a translator to get the job done. This will not get you the results you are looking for, you need transcreation. I decided to interview one of our professional transcreators, Celia G., to show you why they are an essential part of any global company.
Before you convey the correct message, you need to understand it properly.
Q: Are there any notable mistakes that translators tend to make when translating copyright material?
A: As a translator, your job is to translate from one language to the other. It isn’t your job to adapt or change anything in the source document. So, when translating copyright material, most of the time they just translate and that’s it. For some copyright material that would not be enough, sometimes to make it easier to understand in the target language some changes need to be made. This is due to the differences in the ways of expressions between the two languages. In fact, that’s not really a mistake but a need to go the extra mile when copywriting. So translating and transcreating are two different things.
Q: When people hear about translating and transcreating they might think they are the same thing, tell me what sets them apart from each other?
A: There is always a confusion when we talk about translating and transcreating. When we are talking about translating, we care more about the translation from one language to another, however when we are talking about transcreating we care more about how the final copy or translation feels to the audience or reader. While transcreating you need to take into account cultural differences, advertising limits, or other conflicts. You need to adapt your translations in order to avoid these things. As a translator, your main role would be telling people what the source means in a readable, precious manner. However, a copywriter + a translator equals a transcreator. Transcreators use the source as reference material including brand assets, target consumers, what image the brand wants to project, and what the main idea of the campaign is. His or her main role is to write the copy in the target language to reflect the main idea and adapt to the source based on cultural differences and advertising limits. Transcreating is usually used for marketing and would be read by a large audience to show parts of the brand or image.
Q: When you receive a project that requires you to transcreate something, what is that process usually like? How about for translating copywrite material?
A: Let’s take the brand tagline as an example. Usually a brand tagline is quite short and abstract. What we do is not only understanding what the tagline means in the source language, but we also try to understand everything about the brand. (We are not telling people what the tagline means but what the brand means). First, we need to write down every keyword you can think of when you are reading the material, then you choose the ones which are most appropriate. These keywords are just like the ingredients for a delicious dish for the customer. You use these keywords and your understanding of the brand plus your imagination and creativity to make the final copies. You usually come up with two or more final copies to show the customer. Before we do copywrite material, we need to determine whether it’s necessary to transcreate it. Since some copywrite documents are very abstract they need to be transcreated to make sense. After all this, we let the customer know.
Q: What was your reasoning behind becoming a professional transcreator/copywriter?
A: At the very beginning I was just a translator working with technical and marketing material. I worked in the industry for many years, and in Hi-Com team, I got a chance to work with some great advertising agencies who offered translation requests for their marketing material. However, sometimes clients requested more than just a translation, they needed an extra work on style of translations. That’s the point when we introduced “transcreation”, not a direct translation, but a work of a copywriter and a translator together. So, I learned to do those jobs from the angle of the customer or target consumer. I took more elements of their background and brands into account and made a number of marketing modifications. That’s a lot more than just a translation. So to sum up, Transcreator = Copywriter + Translator.
Q: With the evolution of artificial intelligence, do you think computers will ever be able to replace humans regarding transcreating different documents/material?
A: First, I’m sure that computers will be able to replace humans regarding simple translation in the near future. However, I don’t think a human can be replaced regarding transcreation. As the artificial intelligence rapidly growing, I believe that one day they will be able to think like a man much like they do in Sci-Fi movies. Until this point they will never replace humans because transcreation needs creativity and imagination. You need to be able to consider multiple background elements and use your imagination to shape them into something that is adaptive and easily understandable, this is something that computers cannot currently do.
Q: Is it difficult to convey the correct message when transcreating a project for a foreign market?
A: Before you convey the correct message, you need to understand it properly. In fact, when its comes to translating and transcreating, it isn’t difficult to understand and convey the message. The difficulty comes when figuring out whether it is attractive and reflective of the intended message. That’s what transcreation does.
Q: Do you enjoy working on copywriting or transcreating more and why?
A: Translating and transcreating, copywriting and transcreating are closely related and I enjoy doing all. I had been a translator for many years before I began to do copywriting and transcreating. When you do transcreating less creativity is required since all you are doing is translating from one language to another. Doing this for years on end can get a bit boring. I like being in the “Chief” role and being in charge of transcreating. This work is often very time-consuming and tedious, usually requiring many edits and modifications. You always have to listen to the customer for feedback such as, “make it more involved”, “make it more attractive”, “make it feel different”, “make it outstanding.” This process usually goes on until the customer is fully satisfied.
Interested in learning more about uses of transcription? Check out our Transcreation Concept.