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How to Transcreate? A Simple Guide to Transcreation

By now you have probably heard about transcreation, but you might be wondering exactly how to transcreate or what steps to follow. We have put together a few tips for you, so you can understand how transcreators work and even approach your first transcreation task with confidence.

How to Transcreate – Step 1: Chew on the Source Text

Before starting the transcreation work per se, you need to read the source text a thousand times. Then, make sure you understand the message completely and take mental notes of its tone and style. Why is all this important when learning how to transcreate? Well, you will need to produce the same effect on the target audience as the source text produced on the original audience. Moreover, you don’t want to leave any concepts out of the transcreated copy.

How to Transcreate – Step 2: Take Notes

Now, it’s time to write down the main concepts you’ve just read. If you are more of a visual person, you could create a few diagrams and charts. Even drawings! Anything that will help you remember the key ideas.

The key is approaching the source paragraph by paragraph. Read the first paragraph in the source language a few times, jot down the main concepts or message, and repeat with every paragraph thereafter.

How to Transcreate – Step 3: Hide the Source Text

Wait, what? Yes, that’s right. You don’t need the source text anymore. Now that you’ve read it a hundred times and understood the main concepts and message, it’s time to work only with your notes. It’s now time to let your creativity do its job! Hiding the source text will help you avoid working sentence by sentence (if you do that, you will be translating, not transcreating, however much you distance yourself from the source text).

Now, start writing from scratch in the target language using the list of concepts you just put together. Try to picture yourself as the original author who’s come up with those ideas and address the ideal reader. The result is a text that reads naturally (because you will have written it from scratch in your native language) and that conveys the same message as the original while appealing to the reader’s culture, emotions, and interests. Which is what transcreation is all about!

While transcreating, you want to adapt names, metaphors, sayings, jokes, and cultural references. You want the target readers to feel they are reading an original text written in their language (i.e., not a translation).

Some More Advice

  • Read a lot
  • Write a lot
  • Familiarise yourself with copywriting techniques
  • Look for reference material in the target language; ideally, texts that are similar to what you are working with. It will help you get a better idea things that works best in the target culture.

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