Transcreation: A Tale of Meaning and Emotion

Transcreation: A Tale of Meaning and EmotionTranslation only converts words from a source language into a target language, but it does pay attention to grammar and syntax. So while the resulting message may end up reading well, there’s a risk of losing its true meaning and emotion, letting escape the opportunity for a brand to create a strong connection with consumers who speak the other language. That’s because translation doesn’t always take cultural nuances into account. For example, if we literally translate an English idiom like “Burn the midnight oil” into Spanish, it would only come across as “experiencing car problems at night”, where as you know, this idiom actually means that someone is pulling an all-nighter.

On the other hand, transcreation not only translates words into another language. It adapts the message to be culturally relevant with the intended target audience. During the transcreation process, the original words of a message could be changed completely in order to achieve this goal. This way, emotion and cultural relevance can be successfully preserved across both markets.

If we take the same English idiom example mentioned above and apply it to the transcreation process, the essence (not words) of “Burn the midnight oil” would be extracted - which is pulling an all-nighter, then wordsmith into a Spanish phrase that captures the same meaning. Like “Quemarse las pestañas”, that literally translates into English as “Burning your eye lashes”. Telling us that someone kept their eyes open past bedtime – whether working or studying - and overheated them, hence making their eyelashes burn due to this extraordinary effort. As you can see, this Spanish phase, just as “Burn the midnight oil”, also communicates that someone worked past regular hours to achieve a goal. The result is a phrase build out of totally different words, but that effectively captures the same meaning of the original message.

As you can see, when we take a creative license like this one to adapt a message to another language, whether is using colloquial words or expressions from the related specific region, changing the tone to formal or informal, or calling out a culturally relevant element, it allows us to deeply connect with the intended target audience on a cultural level. Ending up with a powerful message that will deeply connect with the intended target audience to make the brand have real meaning for them.

If you want to learn more about “Transcreation”, and if it is a good solution for your brand, use those digits (915) 581-7900 or give Gabe Acuña a shout.


Rosa Fierro |
I completely agree and maybe we should not call it translations anymore, but transcreations. We also have different expressions or meanings depending on which country of Latin America or Puerto Rico and Cuba, 等. Great post.

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