Trans-creation, a Translation Activity that Requires Special Skills

A thing will not be easy if it takes an expert to execute. You can take an example from translation activity that has experienced practitioners in certain fields, such as medical and finance translation fields. What about creative texts? Unlike the others, there is a special name for this process called trans-creation. Moreover, the uniqueness also allows translators to apply additional skills to produce the best work.

What is Trans-creation?

It is the application of coinage as a word-formation process created by combining ‘translation’ and ‘creation.’ Maybe you feel that this one will violate the rules. However, there is another thing that is no less important to achieve regarding the similarity of the message in the source language.

Creative texts such as literary works and advertisements have a different purpose than others which tend to be informative. In this case, the writer wants to share the emotional aspect by choosing the appropriate words. Not infrequently, there is cultural content as well which if translated directly will reduce the equality of the message for the target reader.

Trans-Creation in this process refers to the copywriting and market research skills that translators need to have since they have to reconstruct a text in order to produce the same ‘spirit’ as the original language. In short, the value of acceptability plays a higher role than accuracy and this is all valid considering that the goal is reader oriented.

The Difference Between Translation and Trans-creation

The difference between the two starts from the initial process of work where the translation will refer to the source text, while the trans-creation focuses on the creative brief which is closely related to the concept.

There are also considerations that need to be analyzed first in the trans-creation process, namely, “What is the cultural content in the source text” and “What is the background of the readers, so that they can understand the message you want to convey?”

Word or line is a unit to determine the rate that needs to be paid by the client. Meanwhile, trans-creation has a different system since it is determined hourly to get its services.

The trans-creation process will take longer than literal translation since it requires more specific and careful adjustments. For instance, one slogan may be completed within an hour and the average rate is EUR 70 to 120.

In the digital era, the use of trans-creation is increasing and you can easily find it on websites, product catalogs, newsletters, press releases, and social media captions. The advantage that you should consider is that usually the work process involves natives to reach a better equivalent.

The Steps of Trans-creation

There are four essential steps to running the project, namely understanding the client’s desire to obtain creative results, analyzing the source text according to demand, the core process of translation, and adjustments for the target reader.

The thing you need to avoid in the trans-creation is changing the content at the last opportunity. If you do, you will re-face a complex process that starts from the concept. In addition, you should get approval at the beginning from the brand manager in the area or market you are aiming for.

The Example of Trans-creation

There is no doubt that you know McDonald’s slogan, “I’m lovin’ it.” However, did you know that in China it translates to “I just like it” as ‘love’ in the Chinese language has a more profound meaning and is rarely spoken bluntly?

Another brand, KFC, has the slogan “Finger lickin’ good.” In China, trans-creation is applied by changing it to “Eat your fingers off.” You can guess if the decision is influenced by taboo culture.

On the other hand, an enormous beverage producer, Coca-Cola, is trans-creating its products which are marketed to Vietnam. The brand on the packaging eventually changed to three versions of the name commonly used there, they are ‘Oanh,’ ‘Anh,’ and ‘Tiên.’

There are many examples of trans-creation which is influenced by various factors such as language which has negative connotations in other languages. Although it looks similar to localization, there are differences between the two.

All in all, trans-creation is one of the translation activities that require additional skills, namely copywriting and market research. The acceptability aspect plays a salient role since the goal is reader-oriented where the message is presented as similar as possible to the source text with a series of adjustments.

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