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Translation, Localisation, and Transcreation

Translation is an act through which the content of a text is transferred from the source language into the target language (Foster, 1958). For example: if you have a text in English and you want it in Spanish, English would be the source language and Spanish would be the target language.

Localisation involves going one step further than simple translation. In localisation, we translate the source content in such a way that it acknowledges the target culture. In other words, we adapt the content for local consumption so it will have a global reach with a local feel. This way, it resonates in the target audience. For this reason, localisation might involve changing colours, cultural references, names of people, names of places, etc. We frequently use it for evocative content aimed at eliciting an emotional response in the reader. It is the case of websites, hotel descriptions, recipes, etc.

Transcreation (or creative translation) is a blend between “translation” and “creation”. It focuses on the intended impact of your message. The goal is maintaining this message in the target language. In other words, transcreation goes one step further than localisation: it’s not just tweaking the cultural references in the text to make it resonate locally. Rather, transcreation involves creating a new text from scratch that will maintain the intent, style, and tone of the original. That’s why transcreation is common for marketing collateral such as blog posts, slogans, or ads, and for creative texts such as comics.

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