Transcreation & Adaptation: what's that all about?

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In about an hour and a half, I’m going to be meeting with Catherine Jan, one of this blog’s faithful readers and author of the new blog

Catherine has been wanting for some time to delve into the realm of “transcreation”. How do I define it? What does it mean to me? What makes for a good transcreator? These are some of the questions Catherine wants to explore.

Trying to gather my thoughts for this interview has forced me to think about a number of questions.

So I’ll put them to you, dear readers, to get your views to spur a debate that will go on for some time. To encourage you to think in greater detail about what you do, how you do it, or what you might want to be doing in the future. To get some “meat” behind what sometimes appears as marketing mumbo-jumbo.

  • What are transcreation and adaptation?
  • Is there a difference between the two?
  • They are often sold as specific services for marketing and advertising. Should they be limited to those fields?
  • Among stellar translations, localizations, transcreations, and adaptations, where do you put the cursor? Do you define each service differently, and if so, how?

Over to you. Enrich the debate! Please share your views.


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  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Catherine Jan and Patricia Lane, La Rassegna. La Rassegna said: ► Transcreation & Adaptation: what’s that all about?: In about an hour and a half, I’m going to be meeting with … […]

  • Good questions. I don’t know if localization means the same thing it used to (mostly for software nowadays?). One of my clients, a pioneer in the field (for marcomms) explained what they did way back when as “globalizing” to then “localize” (rendering a creative concept universal to then adapt it into different local versions for the different countries involved).

    I find that tradaptation, adaptation, transcreation are used pretty much interchangeably. For me they are just ways of expressing what I consider a good translation (in my fields)! Take something that @anglocom just tweeted about moving the topic sentence from end to beginning of paragraph when translating from FR to EN…that’s something I’d naturally do when I “translate” but is considered “adaptation” by many!

    I also think that just plain old translation has a bad name, and unjustly so. A satisfied client once told me “Yeah, but what you do isn’t translation, it’s like creating a whole new text in English.” For the kind of document involved (plain old employee magazine, not too much creative leeway there) I maintain that I do “just” translate…so you can see how hard it is to get two people to agree on what these terms actually mean!

    • Unsurprisingly, what you mention is about 10% of the points I raised with Catherine this morning.

      Namely, that what many call transcreation or adaptation is just doing a normal professional job on a translation — flipping sentences to get rid of the passive voice, reorganizing paragraphs, restructuring an argumentation, using the right punctuation and typographic rules, and so on. Any less than that, IMHO, makes for a substandard translation, and in the worst case “un calque”.

      Which is probably why I tend to view much of this labeling as “marketing mumbo-jumbo”, not to say smokescreen.

      Transcreation, adaptation, tradaptation, or whatever other name is going to pop out of the woodwork, does exist and it requires and implies quite a bit more than delivering a stellar translation that is fit-for-purpose. But I’ll let Catherine tell us about that 🙂

  • Look forward to reading Catherine’s post, then!

  • […] announced last week here, Catherine and I met up to chew the fat about explore what trancreation, adaptation or tradaptation […]