Transcreation vs Translation: 6 Key Differences You Need to Know 

Published on June 17th, 2022

Transcreation is a specialist type of translation service designed for instances where creative language is lost through direct translation. Not only are these two language services closely related, but they also share many things in common – which also explains why their names look/sound similar.

In this article, we discuss what transcreation and translation are in simple terms and six important differences you need to know about them – so you can choose the right language service for your next project.

Transcreation vs translation: quick definitions

Before we get into the differences between transcreation and translation, let’s quickly define these two language services.

What is translation?

We have previously mentioned in our blog that translation broadly refers to the practice of converting dialogue or content from one language to another. Cambridge Dictionary provides the following as one of its definitions for translation:

“the activity or process of changing the words of one language into the words in another language that have the same meaning”.

The goal in translation is to accurately capture the same or closest possible meaning to the original content in the target language.

What is transcreation?

Transcreation combines translation and copywriting to convert marketing, sales and advertising messaging into other languages. The phrase transcreation derives from the combination of “translation” and “creative” and this language service is sometimes simply referred to as creative translation.

The goal in transcreation is to achieve the desired response from each target audience, even if the specific wording of the message needs changing.

Transcreation vs translation: 6 key differences

Hopefully, these simple definitions of translation and transcreation outlined the most important difference between these two language services: the aim of accurate meaning vs achieving a specific audience response that ideally generates the same emotions as the source language text.

However, the differences between transcreation and translation run deeper than these quick definitions can clarify so let’s take a look at six of the key differences you need to know:

Content vs copy:

Transcreation is essentially the translation of copywriting and marketing messages designed to produce an emotional response from your audience.

Accuracy vs impact:

While translation prioritises accuracy to the source content, transcreation prioritises the emotional impact the translated message has upon its audiences.

Meaning vs perception:

Translators focus on matching the meaning of the original content as closely as possible; transcreation on the other hand is about crafting messages to be perceived in the way you intend.

Wording vs messaging:

Translation simply converts words from one language to another, but transcreation considers the entire message, such as the look and feel of the content, visual elements, tone and style, context and cultural references etc.

Information vs inspiration:

Translated content aims to deliver information to foreign-speaking audiences with the greatest possible accuracy and clarity; transcreation is about inspiring audiences to take action – whether it’s buying a product or giving a donation etc.

Time & cost:

Transcreation can be more time consuming and expensive than translation, especially on particularly creative or lengthy messages due the highly specialised nature of this service.

Generally speaking, on projects where content is simply aiming to convey information with as much accuracy and clarity as possible, translation is probably the service most companies will need. However, if projects involve content with a deeper meaning or creative language or are looking to inspire a specific of emotional response to capture a desired reaction from audiences, transcreation is the answer.

Also Read: Creative Translation: Four Examples of Transcreation (Good & Bad)

Still unsure whether you need translation or transcreation services?

If you have content that is of a highly creative nature, this would require a professional transcreation service. Certain projects may involve content that only includes the occasional use of figurative language so in this case, translation might be enough. Our language experts are here to help you determine which approach you need for your next project.

As part of one of the largest (and oldest) advertising networks, we also have a highly-specialised and experienced transcreation and production department that works daily on creative translation projects, so if you wish to discuss a project that requires transcreation, get in touch.

Call us on +44 (0)20 7324 0950 or fill out the form on our contact page to discuss your next steps.

Posted on: June 17th, 2022