The importance of transcreation

We have all seen many instances of literal translations of slogans into foreign languages that just don’t work. Thankfully, transcreation can take care of this issue.  Transcreation (also referred to as “creative translation”) has been a hot topic in recent years, especially in the global market sector. It has been described as both the process of adapting precise brand content from one language into another and the transformation of an overall message which addresses written content, visual design and imagery. Standard translation and localization services don’t effectively preserve the creative and emotional intent of the content that allows it to best resonate in other languages and cultures.

Although it is a term mainly used by advertising and marketing professionals to refer to the process of adapting a message from one language to another, many localization vendors are now offering it as one of their client services.  In other words, translation is to transcreation what writing is to copyediting.  Simply put, it is a way of conveying the same message put forth by the source text to target audiences in language that the target audiences readily understand.

However, transcreation can be a difficult process. Working on the client-side of localization many years ago, we marketed to a younger audience and words like “phat” were used.  I remember thinking how are we going to convey what “phat” (depending on the source, it means “excellent”, or “very cool” or to others, it is an acronym for “pretty hot and tempting”) means in Sweden.  This is part of the process of transcreation; in this case, finding the equivalent of what “phat” conveys in English in Swedish. Simply using the word “phat” (unless commonly used in English) will just not work and the proper message will not be conveyed.

The well-known slogan for McDonald’s is “I’m loving it”.  This works fine for America where we “love” our shoes, our pets, our husbands, our girlfriends, our favorite movie, etc. The same word is used for the love for all of those things. However, in Chinese, the word “love” is used only for deep, meaningful love so the slogan in Chinese translates as “I just like it”.

Another difficulty faced is that many client logos contain puns and since logos are not to be translated, these puns are not easily understood by the end users.  Clients should keep this in mind (if going global) when creating their logos.

Spiderman India is a well-known example of transcreation and the first of its kind where a Western property is rewritten and rebranded.  The name Peter Parker was changed to the more ethic-sounding Pavitr Prabhakar and instead of chasing the Green Goblin, he chases a demon known as Rahshasa.

To find out more about transcreation and whether your product requires it, please contact ABLE Innovations today to speak to one of our seasoned professionals.


Do you Speak Soccer?

June 13, 2014 by Wadii El Maroudi · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Translation Services 

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup is an international association soccer competition attended by 32 National Soccer teams from all over the globe. Since the inaugural tournament in 1930, the championship takes place every four years.  The current champions are Spain, who won the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

Countries interested in hosting the competition have to submit a proposal to the FIFA which include stadiums, transportation, security capabilities and the like.  The FIFA is responsible for selecting the host country that fits the requirements.  The current World Cup is taking place in Brazil and the next two competitions will be hosted by Russia in 2018 and by Qatar in 2022.

The 19 World Cup tournaments have been won by eight different national teams.  Brazil has won five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament.  The other World Cup winners are Italy, with four titles; Germany, with three titles; Argentina and inaugural winners Uruguay, with two titles each; and England, France, and Spain, with one title each.

The World Cup is the world’s most widely viewed sporting event with an estimated 715.1 million viewers speaking over 100 languages.

For 32 days, Brazil will become one of the most language diverse places in the world. 600,000 foreigners are expected to attend the World Cup in Brazil, where hardly anyone speaks a language besides Portuguese.

Have you ever wondered how more than half a million tourists would find their way around a country they’ve never been to before, where nobody speaks their native language?

A Korean nonprofit company developed a simple but smart solution:  A phone number where foreigners can get real time language assistance in seven languages.

The BBB or Before Babel Brigade service was developed during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan as a way of helping foreigners find their bearings in a country where foreign language expertise is limited — much like Portuguese-speaking Brazil.

It is a simple idea!  Foreigners in need of language help dial a Rio de Janeiro number and select one of seven languages — English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian and Korean. A server automatically connects them to a volunteer translator who can speak directly to the local doctor, waiter, bank teller or taxi driver, passing along the needed message.  The service, known here as Rio Amigo, will be available 24 hour a day during the World Cup, which begins Thursday and runs through July 25.

The service for Brazil’s World Cup is free to the user, except for the price of the Rio telephone call.  The service now even has an app — in response to the growing popularity of translation apps and online services.

Although Interpretation Services is not currently provided by ABLE Innovations, we keep a very close eye on new language technologies that could be incorporated in our production processes to help our clients deliver their messages globally in the most accurate, timely fashion and cost effective ways.



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