SIGNEWORDS offers a wide host of language services, including transcreation. Transcreation, which is also referred to as ‘creative translation’ or ‘cross-market copywriting’, is a relatively new service which has become increasingly popular over the past decade, particularly amongst advertising and marketing companies targeting cross-cultural audiences.
The word ‘transcreation’ combines translation and creativity and consists in taking a given text in a source language and using the content of the source as inspiration for the creation of a brand-new text in the target language. Transcreation considers the emotional intention of the message rather than the structure of the message itself. Remaining faithful to the source text in terms of vocabulary, grammar, syntax and idiom is less important than replicating the same emotional response in target readers.
This result is achieved by creating content that focuses on the target culture, linguistic variations, humour, religion, geographical context, to name but a few aspects. Transcreation is particularly useful for companies who need to create businesses slogans or devise advertising campaigns, branding concepts or product names in the language(s) of the countries they target. The aim of companies who generally request transcreation is to sell products or services: in order to do so, they must attract consumers and appeal to them on an emotional level. Failure to connect will result in failure to sell, and thus to achieve the company’s global market strategy.
At SIGNEWORDS, we only work with copywriters who have sound knowledge both source and target languages and cultures living in any country. We screen and vet all our resources and liaise with them and the client constantly throughout the transcreation process to ensure we create the best product tailored to the client’s specific needs.
Transcreation is not to be confused with localisation, another buzz word in the translation industry (and a service SIGNEWORDS also provides). The terminology can be confusing, and people often believe the two overlap, but while localisation shifts beyond the words to consider the cultural expectations of an audience, transcreation takes a step further towards creative freedom.
Localization is the process of culturally adapting a product (e.g. a web page, a mobile app, a software, a video game, food, a program). A good example of this is the popular cartoon show ‘The Simpsons’, which has been localised into many languages. In its original American-English version, Homer Simpson, the father in the family, is known for his love of food and alcohol. In Muslim-speaking countries, all references to beer and pork have been substituted with soda and other meat in order to respect the religious beliefs of the viewers.
Transcreation, on the other hand, blends language with culture and emotions, adding a layer of creativity. This can be seen, for example, in film titles: the 2007 film Knocked Up was translated as ‘Ligeramente embarazada’ (lit. ‘Slightly Pregnant’) in Catholic Peru, but as 弊傢伙…搞大咗 (lit. ‘One Night, Big Belly’) in Communist China. It was therefore creatively tailored to the target audience’s language, culture and emotions.
However, sometimes transcreators get it wrong: the 2004 Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet movie ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ in Spanish became ‘¡Olvídate de mí!’ (lit. Forget about me!), drastically altering the feel and intention of the original title. The result? Movie-goers were dissuaded from buying tickets, thinking that it sounded more like a chick-flick or a slapstick rom-com than the complex, dark, layered drama that it actually is.
This single example highlights the importance of putting your transcreation projects in the hands of experts. At SIGNEWORDS, our team is made up of only native speakers who know the culture of their source and target countries inside out and can convey the same emotional intention of the source text to its target audience.
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