In the translation laboratory

I will provide insight into this parallel world of the translation industry, and together we will do a bloodless analysis of how transcreation can be successfully implemented in practice. Let's open the door to the translation lab and take a look over Dr. Faust's shoulders.

What is transcreation?

Transcreation is a term that was derived from the English words "translation" and "creation". It refers to a translation that takes into account the different linguistic and cultural conditions as well as relationships in the target country. Transcreation is used especially in marketing and all areas of advertising. In particular, it prevents the text from being interpreted as a "translation" and ensures precise conformity with the target culture.

Where is the difference?

While we have to stay very close to the source text when translating a contract or technical documentation (even if it does not necessarily sound beautiful), a website, an image brochure, or a sales brochure should be linguistically and stylistically tailored to the reader while adhering to the objective of the text.

The importance of the target culture is frequently underestimated, because something that is decisive for a German (let's say the technical quality of a car) is not necessarily impressive for an Italian who loves vivacity. For example, one prefers to drive a Mercedes and the other an Alfa Romeo.

This is also why some customers are mystified: "I don't understand: our marketing efforts are successful in Germany and in some foreign markets, but we cannot gain ground in other countries. Why is that?"

It's probably because we are dealing with a "translation" that does not consider the cultural or emotional context. Marketing psychologists know that purchases are not based on the intellectual mind but on emotions. And when emotions speak against it, the seller has no chance.

What does creativity have to do with it?

This is where the creative part comes into play. Although accuracy is very important in transcreation, the target-language text often has nothing in common with the source text. At least not when one compares words and sentences. Yet the intention and the basic statement underlying the text are the same.

This challenging and exciting task of the copywriter can be very time-consuming. In any case, it requires an accurate knowledge of the market, comprehensive specifications of the customer, and a lot of experience and linguistic intuition. Not every translator is a good copywriter (and vice versa). 

What can you do to make your transcreation projects successful?

  • In a first step, you should select the copywriter that best suits you, your product, and your target market. Get samples from three or four copywriters and decide after you examine them closely. The initial effort will quickly pay off.
  • Give your copywriter all the information he or she needs. Preferably, you will look for a long-term collaboration that ensures that your copywriter gets to know your company and your products better over time.
  • Provide the copywriter with a responsible contact person to clarify questions and for consultation. The ICR is an important additional step to ensure that you reach your goal.
  • Make sure that you do not obstruct the transcreation process with specifications that don't work in the target market (especially imagery, but also puns, irony, jokes, etc.).
  • Last but not least, there is no catch-all solution. Each customer has different specifications and different requirements. I recommend: Let us advise you! And then choose the solution that suits you best.

Stay with me 

Christian Faust

 Follow us on twitter: @ FaustT9ns 


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