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Transcreation – Translating language and culture

We wrote in our blog recently that translation involves more than just translating. It takes more than just linguistic competence paired with technical subject knowledge: the translator must also consider the cultural context of the respective target country, since this can have a strong impact on the translation. Therefore, it is appropriate to use the term transcreation instead of just translation to describe what we do. But what exactly do we mean by transcreation?


What is transcreation?

The word "transcreation" is a portmanteau of translation and creation, and it describes a particular kind of translation practice. Advertising texts that are intended to convey certain messages and emotions must not simply be translated into another language. Rather, they also need to fit into the cultural context of the target group or the target country. In doing so, translators can ensure that texts take account of the sensitivities, expectations, and needs of the target group. Translators must be particularly careful when translating puns and proverbs, since these kinds of expressions are full of subtle nuances. 

In medicine and pharmacy, for example, transcreation is applicable for slogans and product claims. The importance of the transcreation approach is also apparent when translating copy for websites, when translators must be aware of the specific terms that various target groups use to search online. Therefore, international medical SEO is also an important part of transcreation. Translators must also be aware of the legal regulations governing medical advertising that can vary from country to country, since these can differ significantly depending on jurisdiction.

However, this translation approach is not suitable for all texts, including those that must receive approval in accordance with regulatory requirements, such as documents for medicinal product authorization, package leaflets, or medical technology usage instructions.


The many facets of transcreation

There are many terms that describe the same processes that go into transcreation, but they all express the same thing: the need to adapt the source text to suit the cultural practices and conventions of the target country in a way that goes beyond exact translation. Some of these other terms include marketing translation, free translation, and creative translation

Translation or copywriting?

Even if transcreation is regarded as a type of translation, a translator still needs other skills in order to practice it. While pure translation merely conveys the information content of the source text in the target language, transcreation focuses more on recreating its impact and message. So here we must ask the question: is transcreation closer to translation or copywriting?

The answer is that it takes something from both. Transcreation is a type of translation, but some aspects of it transcend mere translation. Transcreation requires a high degree of creativity, linguistic but also intercultural competence, as well as experience in writing advertising copy. At mt-g, we therefore only select translators to complete our transcreation projects who, depending on the customer's requirements, may also have experience as medical writers, who are native speakers of the target language, and who live in the country or region of our customer's target group. In addition to possessing linguistic and cultural competence, our translators are also experts in the field of medical and pharmaceutical communication and its associated technical terms.

From initial inquiry to delivery

As with all our projects, we at mt-g also follow certain processes for carrying out transcreation orders in in order to guarantee our customers a high level of quality. The process for transcreation projects still basically follows the usual process for translations in the marketing and communication field, but with crucial differences, which are highlighted in light blue in the following graphic.

Transcreation at mt-g

Together with our Marketing & Communication team, our qualified project managers are at our customers' side. They not only advise on how to make each project a reality, they work to help you achieve the best possible result. The team is very familiar with customer-specific terminologies and requirements, and they always find the right translator or medical writer for the project.

You can learn more about the team and the contact details of team leader Isabel Schenker on the team page.