Translation v.s. Transcreation

Let us see what exactly translation means.

Generally speaking, this is the process of translating what is being said in one language into another. It’s quite obvious and almost anyone would give you that answer. What’s not too obvious is that the translator adds their own skill, judgement and interpretation of the original document.

Unlike mathematics, where there is usually a right and a wrong answer, language is much more subtle and nuanced, and that is why no two translators will produce exactly the same finished texts though both would be equally accurate and correct.

This applies particularly for texts loaded with emotion, cultural and artistic value. For instance, there will be much more variance in the translation of a poem than there will be in the translation of a set of operating instructions for a toaster.

We don’t want to sound pretentious, but we know one thing for sure: that translations can almost be thought of as being closer to works of art than to mechanical mappings from one language to another.


So much for translations. Now, what exactly is transcreation and how is it different from translation?

Transcreation means ‘translating’ and ‘recreating’ the original text in a new language whilst making sure it is still appropriate in the context for which it is intended.

The linguist producing the transcreation must understand the desired outcome. On the other hand, he or she must be given the freedom not only to translate the original but also to make changes to it, as he or she deems appropriate.

Most transcreation projects are undertaken when working with marketing teams.

If we had to give a definition, here is how it would sound like: Transcreation is a process creating content for a particular location or culture. The adapted content is unique to the public it was intended for.


When is transcreation used?

One thing is certain – this is a service which cannot be used for any purpose. It is an expensive process which is often time-consuming. As a whole, transcreation is an exception to the rule. “Rule” refers to the fact that first comes localization, followed by translation of the content. Localization and translation are large-scale processes intended to process large quantities of content. Transcreation, on the other hand, is a specialized content.


When is transcreation used?

– If you need something special intended for a particular location or language.

– If you need unique content intended for a particular market.

– If the message to be “transcreated” is emotional and needs adaptation in order to sound adequate and natural.



Here are a couple of examples for transcreation.

Coca Cola is among the top brands using transcreation actively and effectively.


And here is a BMW ad, created exclusively for Germany.