A Quick Guide to Transcreation



Quick Guide to Transcreation

Guide to Transcreation

It can be a quite fascinating thought that you belong to a world of 7 billion people who can express their opinions, emotions, and preferences about the same thing but in so many different ways. Despite the richness that such diversity imposes, it remains a sensitive process to convey an idea from a culture to another bearing in mind not to step on anybody’s toes.

When trying to take a product from a country to another, culture sensitivity is something that can either make your product win hearts or break them. As a newcomer to the culture, you have to creatively make your way in. Along with the market study, transcreation can let you safely in.

What Is Transcreation?

Transcreation derives from the two words, translation and re-creation.

So, does it mean that it is just about translation? Well, “not really”.

While translation refers to conveying a context from a language to another, trans-creation is conveying a context from a culture to another without losing the essence of the source culture.

However, transcreation is essentially a creative approach to translation by taking the message and the emotional impact of the original text and communicating this in a different way. Transcreation assures that this message resonates with the target audience and doesn’t sound like an outlandish meaningless translation.

A skilled transcreator does that by using;

  • Various tones of voice.
  • Appropriate idiomatic expressions.
  • Cultural references that successfully convey the meaning.
  • Different linguistic techniques.

Transcreation Tips

  • Local market awareness is a MUST!The first step to ensure an effective transcreation process is to have a ‘local market awareness’. Studying the culture of the intended target audience is vitally important to avoid crossing the line regarding cultural sensitivity, i.e. what might be okay in a country or culture could be offensive in another culture.
  • Idiomatic Expressions are tricky!

Any language for sure includes idiomatic expressions that are strongly related to the culture. This could be a bit challenging while transcreating a context, not just because sometimes it is not easy to find a cultural equivalent of an idiom in the target language, but also because if found it can fall into being awkward and strange if not molded cleverly to fit into the target market.

For example; an expression like “I think you are pulling my leg” which means; I think you are joking with me; could be interpreted in different ways. In Italian, it would be “I think you are pulling my nose”, whereas, in French, it would be “I think you are making me walk”.

Moreover, cultural sensitivity can be confusing with something even as simple as colors. While in Western culture ‘red’, is usually linked to love, hearts, and romance. In the Middle East, it might be linked to evilness.

Such simple differences can give the process either a sense of authenticity if taken into consideration or make it sound like an intruder on the culture if it is literally translated. This is why studying the culture of the target market helps make the transcreation process smoother and more natural to the target audience and culture and of course avoid offending others.

  • Linguistic Techniques

    Looking back to our childhood, we could recall so many memories that are linked to some TV commercials which still stick in our heads for having this special rhyme either in a song or even in a simple slogan.Some languages are musical, others are stiff and harsh but that doesn’t exclude the possibility of creating and trans-creating something that would suit each and every culture whetherLet’s take for example McDonald’s – the world’s most famous food brand- that locates in every corner of the world. “I’m lovin’ it”, its popular slogan is adored by almost all people from different cultures, except for the Chinese culture. The Chinese translation of the slogan is “wo hao xihuan”, which has been deemed by some as improper and having negative sounding. 


Missing up with cultures or even sending the wrong message is not something the audience can tolerate. So, in order to ensure a successful process of transcreation, various aspects should be considered as guidelines for the best transcreation outcome.

And here is how it should go:
– Study your targeted market and develop local awareness.
– Make sure you cleverly model the idiomatic expressions to fit into the culture you are targeting.
– And last but not least, never underestimate the power of linguistic excellence which guarantees that your mission is accomplished in a rather professional way.

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