We should embrace neural machine translation as a historic opportunity to re-instate visibility for the expertise and added value that human translators and transcreators offer their clients. It is up to all of us to make intelligent use of that opportunity, with support from strong and active professional associations around the world.
Over the years, I have been approached by academics telling me that what I present as transcreation is really nothing else than what they teach as translation. What they do is basically tack the translation label onto any type of work that in some way includes a source and a target-language text. Which, in my experience, is not a good idea. “Why? What’s the problem?” you ask.
My workshops may be more business-focused than some expect when they sign up. Yet I often get feedback, sometimes even months or years after a workshop, where participants tell me they still use the material they got in my workshop, and how helpful it has proved over time. They have come to realize that the business side of transcreation is much more complex than they originally thought.
I bet that you have read somewhere that transcreation is a kind of “creative translation.” In fact, judging by Google results, “creative translation” appears to be the most commonly used term to describe transcreation.
Yet “creative translation” is a misnomer. Misleading at best.
Just as we often have to dare to “condense” the target copy (see separate blog post), we sometimes have to dare to “expand” – weave in new information to convey something that is not well-known in the target-market culture.
It took me a long time – decades, that is – to come up with a good and easy-to-grasp definition of what transcreation is. And why we should it treat it as a category in its own right rather than as a sub-category of translation.
If you want corporate communication, public relations, or advertising material to make a (positive!) impact in other languages, a translation is most likely not the best solution. Better get a transcreation instead.
Why? What’s the difference?
In this blog series, I am planning to post a variety of transcreative techniques over time. This is one of them. I call it:
Dare to condense
In transcreation, the draft translation process often leaves the target copy longer or a lot more convoluted than the source text, sometimes significantly so, especially when you translate from English into other languages. Consequently, we need to make an extra effort to cut, condense, and rewrite where possible and necessary.
The book that I hope you will read (or have already read) is all about ways to render high-quality transcreation services. It is important to stress, however, that there may be situations in which transcreations are necessary, but won’t be possible. That is the case when:
Some people seem to think that transcreation is a ploy to sell translation by a fancier name, that is, a way to make more money by selling the same product with another wrapping. These people haven’t understood what transcreation is about.
The book will help you get that understanding. If you don’t feel like reading the book just yet, here’s the big-profit making gist: