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  • Writer's pictureHernán J. Droguett

Translation vs. transcreation



Translation and transcreation are two concepts that are commonly used in the world of language services. While both involve the conversion of text from one language to another, they differ in terms of their approach and objective. In this article, we will explore the differences between translation and transcreation.


Translation is the process of converting a piece of text from one language into another, while preserving the meaning and intent of the original message. Translation requires a deep understanding of both the source and target languages, as well as the cultural nuances and context of the text being translated. The goal of translation is to accurately convey the meaning of the original text in a way that is clear and understandable to the target audience.


Transcreation, on the other hand, is a more creative process that goes beyond translation. It is commonly used in marketing and advertising, where the goal is to create a message that resonates with the target audience IN the language and culture of the audience, rather than simply translating the text word-for-word. It involves taking the essence of a message and recreating it in a way that resonates with the target audience. Transcreation requires not only linguistic skills but also creative thinking and an understanding of cultural nuances and context. Combine language, emotion, and culture and you get transcreation!


Let's take a look at an example of German-to-English translation and transcreation. German sweets maker Haribo has used the slogan Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso” since 1980. It roughly translates to “Haribo makes children happy, and grownups too” in English. Yet, in order to imitate the original German jingle, the English text renders the much catchier “Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo!



The main difference between translation and transcreation is their respective focus. Translation focuses on the accurate transfer of information from one language to another, while transcreation focuses on adapting the message to the target audience. Translation aims to convey the meaning of the original text, while transcreation aims to convey the same message in a way that is culturally appropriate and emotionally resonant with the target audience.


Another difference between translation and transcreation is their level of flexibility. Translation is generally considered to be more rigid, as the translator must adhere to the structure and meaning of the original text as closely as possible. Transcreation, on the other hand, allows for more creative freedom, as the transcreator is not bound by the original structure or wording of the text. Instead, the transcreator can adapt the message in a way that is most effective for the target audience.


In terms of application, translation is typically used for technical or legal documents, where accuracy and precision are paramount. Transcreation, on the other hand, is more commonly used in marketing and advertising, where the goal is to create an emotional connection with the target audience. Just like in the Haribo case above, a company might use transcreation to adapt a slogan or tagline for a new market, in order to create a message that resonates with the local culture and values.


While both translation and transcreation involve the conversion of text from one language to another, they differ in their approach and objective. Translation focuses on the accurate transfer of information, while transcreation focuses on adapting the message to the target audience. Translation is more rigid and focused on accuracy, while transcreation is more flexible and allows for more creative freedom. Ultimately, the choice between translation and transcreation will depend on the specific needs of the client and the intended audience.


Ready to learn more about translation or transcreation? Let's chat!

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