Language is foundational to the human experience. Every sentence has meaning, and every expression has nuance. That’s why we believe it’s so important to be precise with language. The problem is, crossing language barriers can sometimes pose difficulties. 

No two languages are exactly alike. Phrasing, grammatical structure, and the words themselves fit together like parts of a puzzle. A mislaid piece can cause fundamental confusion, especially when it comes to business. 

To foster and facilitate good communication, we want to clarify the difference between translation, transcreation, and localization.

What is Translation?

We all understand the concept of translation at its most basic level. Translation is taking information in one language and rendering it into another language. This straightforward process is the basic function of apps like Google Translate.

But when we think of Google Translate, another issue immediately becomes apparent. Translating a piece of text word-for-word through this type of application yields sentences that are often garbled, ridiculous, or completely unintelligible. 

You see, translation is more than just a word-for-word exchange. It involves skill and judgment that often only a real person can provide. This is why literary texts are translated by professionals who understand both linguistic interchange and contextual flow. 

A novel translated by Google might get the point across, but there’s no nuance and no musicality. It would sound like it was written by a robot, because, in effect, it would be. Translation is about capturing the essence of a text. It is more of an art than a science.

As we get into more abstract language and colloquialisms, the need for human intervention becomes more pronounced. An automated translation app might render a relatively accurate copy of a math textbook, but translating a book of poetry would be another matter entirely. Even different translators can produce significantly varied translations of an identical text based on their own knowledge and writing style.

Translation vs. Transcreation

Transcreation is a portmanteau of ‘translation’ and ‘recreation.’ Transcreation entails rendering the text in a different language while maintaining the fundamental integrity of the passage. It’s about adapting, while also ensuring that the new version communicates the original’s goals and context. 

Transcreation requires a thorough understanding of what the new text intends to communicate. This is because the linguist will not just be doing a direct translation; they will be given creative license to make significant changes to the text. Ultimately though, a completed transcreation should preserve the core intent of the original while also considering cultural and linguistic perceptions.

Transcreation vs. Localization

Transcreation focuses on the adaption of textual content, often in the context of video games, web apps, and marketing strategies. Meanwhile, localization refers to the translation of both the text and its accompanying technical features to make content accessible to international users.

For example, sending a joke to a friend on Facebook would not work for someone living in China, because it’s banned there. Instead, you could send the localized joke via a WhatsApp message. Different medium, different language – but the same message!  

Now that you understand the similarities and differences between translation, transcreation, and localization, you can apply them to improve your business model. Don’t let a language barrier stop you in your tracks! Think of it as an opportunity to think outside the box and give your audience something they will understand. Reach out today to request a quote.

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