What’s the difference between translation, localisation and transcreation?

20th November 2018

We often get asked about the meaning and differences between translation, localisation and transcreation and which one is right for your projects. These terms can be confusing, the look similar and their definitions overlap in one way or another. So let’s clear this up so you know exactly which service you need.

What is translation?

Translation is the process of rendering content from one language to another. Translation focuses on the words, tone of voice and grammar. The text to be translated is called the source text, and the language the text is translated into is called the target language.

It is always advised to use native target speakers, as they not only fully understand the source of the language, but also how to achieve the fluency of meaning. Native speakers are able to adapt and absorb subtle changes in language use, interpret context and capture the same meaning as the source text. They also take into account constraints around grammar, writing conventions and idioms. Translation is never as straight forward as word-for-word interpretation, and as previously stated by Google, your content should not be word-for-word translation.

Read more about translation here: https://www.foreigntongues.co.uk/services/translation 

What is localisation?

Localisation is the process of adapting the content to a specific market. It is one step further than a direct language translation and takes into account other factors influencing the target audience, such as cultural nuances. Localisation can include content modifications to suit the habits of a target market, currency conversion, using local formats for addresses, phone numbers and much more. The end goal of localisation is make the content look and sound like it has been created specifically for a target market, no matter their language, culture, or location.

You can read more about localisation here: https://www.foreigntongues.co.uk/services/localisation

What is transcreation?

Transcreation is a term used chiefly by advertising and marketing professionals to refer to the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context.

Source: Wikipedia

Transreation, often called creative translation, takes a concept in one language and recreates it in another language whilst using a mix of language, visuals and storytelling. This is why transcreation is usually used to market an idea, product or service to international audiences by adapting the message to suit the new audience and its culture. A slogan used in America will not work in China, and may even be found offensive. Recreating a slogan means you will end up with a different wording when you enter a new market, but one that has the same or the closest possible impact. But transcreation isn’t just about slogans, it is often needed in advertising campaigns and branding concepts to ensure your brand is received the way you want it to be in international markets. Imagine taking some existing marketing material and tweaking its message into your mother’s language with creativity in mind whilst maintaining the feel, style and tone of the original text. The end goal of transcreation is catch attention and get a reaction.

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