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 treat it as a category in its own right rather than as a sub-category of translation.
When I wrote my first book, in 2015, I decided to apply the term “transcreation” whenever a text qualified as contributing to a company’s or brand’s reputation and consequently, its sales. I found that definition to be a reliable way to differentiate between texts that required translation as opposed to transcreation, by asking a simple question: “Does this text contribute to enhancing the brand’s reputation and sales“?
If the answer was yes, the text would qualify for transcreation. We could argue, of course, that any kind of text (even a user manual!) reflects back on the company and hence, contributes to its reputation. So, to further fine-tune that question, you would ask for the purpose of the text. If the purpose is to inform, a translation would be the right choice. That’s because a translation (if done properly) is a text that gives the reader the full picture of the source text, with every detail accurately rendered. Think sales agreeements, court documents, medical reports, etc. If the purpose is to emotionally connect, engage, and motivate readers to some kind of action, however, you want a transcreation. Examples: brochures, press releases, landing pages of websites.
I have also recommended the formula “transcreation = translation + copywriting,” which really grasps the essence of transcreation. However, many misunderstood this to mean that the process would consist in having a translator prepare a regular translation, and then have a copywriter embellish that translation. THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEAN. The idea is that a transcreation be done by ONE person: the transcreator.
Because I’ve been there. The translator-copywriter tandem usually doesn’t work well – or if it does, then only because the copywriter does the entire work all over, including all the research. As a result, the buyer of that job will have to pay doubly. When you have a transcreator do the transcreation from scratch all you have to add is a target-language copywriter for final quality assurance.
Doesn’t that sound more efficient and effective? What’s your experience? Let me know.