What we talk about when we talk about translation?
by Federica Fugazzotto
The word transcreation has become very widely used in recent years but there still appears to be some confusion about its meaning. Let’s try to shed some light on it.
What do people mean exactly when they talk about transcreation?
The word is a combination of the words translation and creation, which is partly self-explanatory. Transcreation is in fact a kind of translation which aims not only to translate a text but to create another one that conveys the same message, plucking the same strings as the original message but in a different cultural context.
While every translation is in itself a creative act and never a word for word rendition of the original, there are some texts that require a greater creative effort, in which the form has to be changed in order to reproduce the content.
What kinds of content are more suitable for transcreation?
Transcreation is used primarily in the field of marketing and copywriting, particularly to create advertising campaigns suited to different markets. This is because, in most cases, you cannot simply translate a slogan or tagline: what works in one country might turn out to be a flop in another. Transcreation thoroughly investigates the message the brand wants to convey and looks for a better way to deliver it in another socio-cultural context.
Who is involved in transcreation?
Transcreation professionals have to be translators, copywriters and creative people with an excellent knowledge of the market they are addressing.
Are there any famous examples of transcreation?
Of course! Let’s look at two of the most famous.
Haribo: be honest, how many of you have started humming the jingle “Kids and grown-ups love it so - the happy world of Haribo”? The original slogan, created for the German market, was “Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso”, “Haribo makes children happy, as well as adults”. Clearly a literal translation would not have been very catchy and would not have gripped the audience in the same way, which is why transcreators all over the world worked to make the message appealing, while maintaining the idea that Haribo sweets are good at any age. Examples include the French slogan “Haribo, c'est beau la vie - pour les grands et les petits” and the Italian “Haribo è la bontà che si gusta ad ogni età”.
Swiffer: “When Swiffer’s the one, consider it done” was the original slogan of the well-known dust-catching cloth by Procter & Gamble, an essential phrase that’s easy to remember, particularly thanks to the rhyme. The Italian slogan “La polvere non dura perché Swiffer la cattura” [Dust doesn't last because Swiffer captures it] became an internationally famous example of transcreation because not only does it retain the rhythmic structure of the original but it also has added value: it explains the function of the product, Swiffer eliminates dust by capturing it. If you want to know who had this stroke of genius, his name is Marco Leali.
We have tried to answer the main questions about transcreation, but don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any more queries!
Federica Fugazzotto - Editorial translator from English into Italian and full-time nerd. She loves stories more than anything else on Earth but does not mind a glass of good red wine.
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." Nelson Mandela