What is Transcreation?


There are times where straightforward translation can’t adequately convey an intended message to its target audience. When a message is aimed at users whose language and culture is completely different from the place it originally came from, it must be adapted using the process called ‘localisation’. The challenge faced by translators is to get the original message across to its target audience in ways they can completely understand, without losing or altering its original meaning. In some cases this may entail extensive copy editing or re-writing by someone who belongs to the same culture and speaks in the same language as the target audience, but who at the same time must be familiar with the originating language and culture. This is where the word TRANSCREATION fits.


Transcreation, even more than localisation, is sometimes described as the act of using the original text as a ‘brief ’ for writing completely new copy in the language of the target audience, in ways they can easily relate to, and as if it was originally written for them. Transcreation becomes especially important in the case of complex marketing campaigns where products are being launched into completely new and different markets. Transcreation can involve even removing or adding content, provided that the client is aware of this and has approved.


Meanwhile, back at NZTC, our objective is always to produce natural-sounding text that does not seem like a translation. Editorial director Patrick King explains, “This is what we aim to achieve in the promotional, marketing and similar texts we are asked to translate.” In addition, all NZTC translations incorporate our standard quality assurance procedures:

• First have the document translated by an experienced translator who must be a native speaker of the target language and also be completely conversant with the culture in which it is spoken. • Second, have that translation checked and edited by another experienced linguist with a solid command of both languages. • Any suggestions or corrections required are discussed between the editor and original translator, if necessary in consultation with the client.

So NZTC often already does what is called transcreation, in the course of our normal work. Perhaps leave the last word to the company’s Senior Translator, John Jamieson, who does top quality translations into English for nearly 30 languages. John says that much of his work involves “reading a chunk of text then putting it aside and writing the same thing in your own words, in your own language.”


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