What makes a good transcreator?

Percy Balemans from PB Translations is an English/Dutch translator specialising in the art of transcreation. Here is what she says about transcreation and what makes a good transcreator (Source: Diversification in the Language Industry*):

“Transcreation means recreating a text for the target audience: ‘translating’ and ‘recreating’ the text; hence the term ‘transcreation’. Transcreation is used to make sure the target copy is the same as the source copy in every aspect: the message it conveys, the tone of voice, the images and emotions it evokes and the cultural background. You could say that transcreation is to translation what copywriting is to writing. As with any other area of specialization, transcreation requires specific skills. Some are the same as needed for translation, others are specific to transcreation.”
“First of all, and not surprisingly, a transcreator needs to have excellent creative writing skills: copy needs to be written in the correct style for the target audience and with the intended purpose in mind. This means that sometimes the style should be formal, for example when writing for business clients, and at other times it should be very informal, even leaning towards spoken language, for example when writing for young customers. Often, the transcreator has to work within limitations of space or layout, or according to the requirements of specific media (television or radio commercials, Twitter, etc.), and a lot of creativity is required to write copy that fits within these limitations, but still sounds natural.
In addition to creativity, a transcreator should have an excellent knowledge of both the source language and the target language and a thorough knowledge of cultural backgrounds. This seems obvious for a translator, but advertising material often contains puns or references to local cultural knowledge or current events, and the transcreator has to understand these and know what to do with them in the adaptation: replace them with local puns/references, leave them out altogether or come up with an alternative solution. Some clients go so far as to demand that the transcreator lives in the country for which the target campaign is intended, to make sure that he or she is up to date on both language (which changes all the time!) and local culture.
The transcreator also has to be familiar with the product being advertised and be able to write about it enthusiastically; this is where subject specialization comes in. In addition, it certainly helps if the transcreator can handle stress and is flexible, since the advertising world is a fast-paced world and deadlines and source texts tend to change frequently. Finally, as a transcreator you should ‘dare to be different’: let go of the source text, come up with completely different solutions. In many cases, clients will ask for alternative versions so they can choose which one they like best, so you are free to come up with a couple of alternatives that are truly different and original.”

*Source: Percy Balemans, ‘Transcreation’ in Diversification in the Language Industry, 2013, p. 122

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