Transcreation: not just translation

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As we say in different parts of our website, we are not just translators, we make transcreations. What is the difference?

If you want to reach diverse markets with diverse cultures, you can’t just translate your websites. The same sentence could not be understandable by other people with another culture even if they speak English very fluently.

It has always been considered that a word-for-word (metaphrasing) translation is a bad translation. An example of direct translation could be: “me voy a ir yendo”. We could translate that to English like “I go to go going”. It has no sense.
A good translation should take into account idioms and meaning while remaining faithful to the text (paraphrasing). The sentence well translated would be something like “I’m leaving”.

Transcreation is more than a good translation

Transcreation is not just trying to make the phrase understandable, is also trying to transmit the same emotional response than the original sentences. Using the same sentence, somebody who says, in Spanish, “me voy a ir yendo” (“I’m leaving”) is trying to say “I’m thinking that I’m gonna go.”

That could sound very abstract, but look these three motor examples adapted to brands:

-Volkswagen Moco. Sound pretty well in English, but Moco, in Spanish, means Bogus. The translation (or just leaving the name) is a bad idea. They changed it to Volkswagen Cube. Much better.

-Mitsubishi Pajero. Is a horrible example of bad naming. In Spanish Pajero means wanker. Is rude and ugly, just like in English.

-Volkswagen Polo GT. Polo is Ok. GT is Ok. Polo GT, all together, sounds like “by the ass”.

A meta-example: saying ass could sound rude in American English. Has not any bad meaning in Spanish. In Spanish could sound even childish.

To create good transcreations copywriters need to know very well the languages and cultures he is working with. And good localizations can’t avoid transcreation. If you need a localization of your web let us know.

Of course, good transcreation is not limited only to words. You have to consider every single cultural difference. As an example: if you are doing a funeral parlour webpage with a predominantly black colour and you want to create the Chinese version, you should consider that the colour associated with death in China is not black, but white.

In conclusion: in order to make a good localization, you need to use transcreation. It could be summed up with the maxim: Think globally, act locally.

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