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What Is The Difference Between Transcreation And Translation?

What is the difference between transcreation and translation?

Translation and transcreation are two distinct terms that are intertwined on various levels, although the processes and outcomes are very different

To understand what exactly the differences between translations and transcreation are, we will need to have a full understanding of what these terms mean independently

What is translation?

Simply put, translation is a process in which you translate written text from one language into another. 

Well I guess most people could have given you this answer if you ask them what a translation is.

But let us dig a little deeper.

The act of translation needs to fulfil three core elements to be considered as just such.

These factors define a translation:

  • The information is presented in written form
  • It involves a transfer of information
  • from one human language to another

Every translation process (except perhaps for the most basic forms) involves the translator adding his or her own judgment and skill to capture and transcribe the essence and meaning of the source text into the target language.

Hence, the more abstract and emotional a text is, the more differences you will find between the work of different translators, even though they would all be considered correct.

E.g. a user guide for headphones will likely have more similarities than a translation of an ancient Chinese poem

A poem will simply need more interpretation and feel, to capture the emotions and messages the author intended to deliver.

An instruction manual, on the other hand, is a type of text which doesn’t give the translator a lot of room for interpretation and so, a literal translation will suffice most of the times.

Nonetheless, a translation will always refer to the transformation of text from one language to another, mostly disregarding any particular translation methods withing the translation process.

What is transcreation?

For extremely creative content pieces and documents, the translation often needs to be taken a step further – this is where transcreation comes into play.

The word transcreation’ is a blend of two terms – 1. translation and 2. re-creation and is commonly referred to as a ‘creative translation’.

A translation focuses mostly on the meaning of every individual word and then tries to find an appropriate interpretation that most closely mirrors the original term.

Transcreation, on the other hand, gives the linguists more freedom for interpretation and transformation.

A transcreation process focuses more on the entire message of a sentence or document rather than on specific words within the text.

Transcreation usually considers several different aspects, such as language, emotions and cultural factors, which are likely to contribute to how the target audience perceives the intended message.

For this reason, transcreation is the most commonly used process to convey marketing messages and materials.

To sum up: Transcreation is the act of identifying concepts and messages in one language and then entirely recreating them into another.

Hence, transcreation can be the ideal process to properly market a product, service or idea to the international markets.

In document fields in which the reader must gain a connection through emotions and language, transcreation is most effective.

The spectrum of translation methods

A transcreation goes beyond grammar and more towards "feel."

Of course, grammatical correctness, to any type of translation and will always require precision, which is why a professional translation service should always be carried out by a native speaker.

However, perfect fluency in one’s mother tongue and in-depth knowledge of one’s language doesn’t automatically translate into excellent transcreation skills.

Transcreation goes beyond language and entails analytical, conceptual and linguistic expertise.

Now you may start to ask yourself the question of why a company would want their documents transcreated in the first place.

Couldn’t they just go ahead and simply hire a team of professional copywriters in their new markets who can produce an exceptional copy from scratch?

The answer is pretty straightforward. Most clients will opt for a transcreation service, as they intend to keep the “feel” of the original text.

To achieve this, it requires someone who has a pristine knowledge base of the source language. This way, the translator can understand why and how the message works and reproduce something new that is specifically optimized for the target language.

Again, the main goal of transcreation is not to copy the same thing in another language.

In a lot of cases, it isn’t even possible to say the exact same thing in another language.

The primary purpose of transcreation is to get the same intended reaction in each language, something that translation in itself won’t necessarily be able to achieve.

Why is transcreation important?

Today most companies are competing in international markets one way or another.

The Internet and digital technologies have made it possible for even small companies to reach a global audience with ease from the very start.


While this shift in the market has allowed companies to reach new customers through multiple channels, international platforms and geographies like never before, it also has brought up a series of new challenges.


It has become imperative for companies to develop a highly internationalized approach.  Thinking and acting both on a global and local scale is now often considered the norm.

Transcreation is an effective process for keeping ones brand consistent throughout its global reach while fully engaging with international audiences at a local level.

difference between translation and transcreation

1. Creative copywriters handle transcreations

While a translation transforms words from one language to another and transcreation specialist is there to write copy that creates a “bond” with the reader, without losing the intended message in the source file.

Because of this, a translator working on a transcreation project has to be creative and have the adequate cultural knowledge to create content that can fully resonate with the audience.

2. Transcreation requires more than just a source text

A translation usually just requires a source text for the translator to start their work.

For a transcreation, you will often find clients providing their translators with clear ideas, concepts and intended reader action, which they would like to incorporate into the copy.

Just like any other creative project, a transcreation demands a creative brief.

3. Transcreation will involve advising on localization aspects

As the way a documents images, colours and numbers are presented can have a significant impact on how copy is accepted in foreign markets, a transcreation specialist will often advise customers on the look and feel of their marketing campaigns.

4. Transcreation optimizes intended messaging

Depending on culture, a written message that has worked on one group may not or only partly resonate with another audience.

While a translation keeps the same message with words from a different language, a transcreation focuses on forming one that is highly optimized for the new target group.

Transcreation will result in a  brand new messaging that is both targeted and localized.


In most cases, people outside of the language services industry believe that translation and transcreation are the same thing – well now you know they’re not.

While translation is perfect for ensuring that information can reach beyond cultural barriers, it rarely leaves room for creative freedom.


Where the original expression might not be able to translate, a successful transcreation will evoke the same emotional response in the reader as in the source text.


Whenever your document is in need for something creative, it’s usually best to get a transcreator involved.


As the world continues to grow together and globalization becomes omnipresent, transcreation will only gain in importance.


Not only will transcreations play a significant role for marketers and advertisers, but to all businesses and brands that are planning to expand beyond their local market.


Transcreation should also be considered an essential part of any successful localization strategy.  

By investing in localization services, you ensure that your companies website is not only accessible around the globe, but also appealing to your worldwide audience.


If you want to learn more about our transcreation services or believe your organization can benefit from website localization then contact us here

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