June 13, 2011

By Ofer Tirosh

The New Kid in Professional Translation Service

Transcreation. The new buzzword that's popping up all over LSP blogs, translation sites and various media, sounds like something only God or Zeus or Mother Earth could do, at first impression. While “transcreative services” or even “transmarketing” might be a little more clear, it's actually just another term for creative marketing translation – hence, transcreation, for short. And, regardless of how grandiose or presumptuous this newly coined term may sound, it looks like transcreation service will soon be as much a standard among language service providers as French or German translation service.

If you are a translator who specializes in marketing translation service, you're probably thinking the same thing we did when we first came across this “new” translation service. Hasn't marketing translation been around for decades? Why is marketing and advertising translation suddenly getting a new name? Why the sudden boatload of attention, and even industry market reports that officialize it as the “fastest growing translation service?”

Well, you could argue that it's simply a recipe for clever new translation industry marketing: Draw in translation business from companies, advertising agencies and marketing firms with a spectacular “new” service that translates not merely just words, but concepts and creative ideas! Then come up with a nifty new term that singles out creative and conceptual material for professional translation service - and customers will pour in. Yet, in effect, this is exactly what transcreation does.

This service involves more than a few paragraphs of Spanish to English translation for marketing copy or a print advertisement. Japanese ads and commercials have a different way of presenting information and marketing messages than western cultures. Transcreation adjusts the language to fit the market, while keeping the central creativity and concept the same.

Creative Language Translation and Global Marketing

Conceptual or creative language translation is a bit harder than you may think at first, even if a translator knows a culture and its language inside and out. Why? Because it is used for subjective content – and subjective content may not make sense to another culture in even a loose translation. This is especially true for humor-based content or advertising that appeals to particular social values. An expert transcreation translator may find they have to adjust not only the language, but the subjective parts of the content – while still being sure to revise the language in such a way that is conceptually or creatively equivalent to the source.

Though transcreation is a term that has been floating around for a while, several blogs and articles about it have recently popped up from prominent LSP professionals and translation company founders. Even recent industry reports show that transcreation is one of the fastest growing services being offered in translation. As market globalization becomes more and more the standard, marketing divisions become more competitive, looking for newer, better ways to reach global audiences. Transcreation is a solution to this demand, which means leading translation agencies are even more valuable now.

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