Creative translation, or transcreation, is the art of adapting and recreating original content in order to appeal to your target audience.
Therefore, transcreation is more than a simple translation of text, as creative copy needs to replicate the style, message, and imagery evoked by the source text. Creative translation is particularly useful when localising marketing material for a foreign audience.
While creativity is a standard pre-requisite for transcreation, excellent creative translators also need:
A thorough comprehension of both source and target language.
- An extensive knowledge of cultural backgrounds.
- Familiarity with the company, industry, and the product or service that is being promoted.
Cultural Issues in Transcreation
Cultural boundaries are one of the most difficult issues that creative translators need to overcome. The translated text not only needs to make sense but also needs appeal to your target markets cultural sensibilities.
As an experiment, Laura Bohannan translated Hamlet for a group of West African tribal elders. The purpose of this test was to discover whether the play would convey shared human values. Consequently, her first task was to consider the different cultural constructs of the West African society and had to modify some of the plot to comply with her audience’s expectations.
One of Bohannan’s first changes was to omit the ghost from the script, as the tribe did not believe in the post-death survival of the individual. Similarly, Bohannan felt the need to replace the scholar with a witch-doctor, while Laertes and Hamlet fought with machetes as opposed to swords.
Yet, in spite of all of these changes, the revised Hamlet could not transcend all cultural boundaries. For instance, the West African tribal elders argued that as the son, Hamlet had no business in investigating his dad’s death. This, they believe, is the job of his uncle.
Secondly, Ophelia’s chastity, or lack of it, was irrelevant. This is because the loss of her bride price for being Hamlet’s mistress would have been countered by the social prestige and patronage opportunities associated by her position.
So, why effectively localise?
There is little doubt that an effective localised marketing campaign or website will add value to the perception of a brand abroad. This is particularly important as global companies receive approximately 60% of their revenues outside of their core domestic market.
As is apparent from the case study, localised, products, services, or promotional material will be more accessible and be appealing to local audiences. This will only serve to boost regional awareness and interest.