05 September 2012

Transcreation explained

Creative translators serving discerning customers, sometimes referred to as 'transcreators' -- in addition to translators specialising in advertising and 'corporate image' documents, the community also includes translators of technical journalism -- have long found it surprisingly difficult to present their services and explain how they work concisely and convincingly. The August/September issue of The Linguist, published by the UK-based Chartered Institute of Linguists, contains a ground-breaking article entitled Making it ad up (go to page 20) by friend and colleague Bill Maslen, owner-manager of and chief transcreator at The Word Gym.

The lead line reads: "Bill Maslen offers an inside account of advertising transcreation". While Bill focuses essentially on the advertising industry, most of the article is equally applicable to any translator-customer relationship in which both parties believe that the only way to achieve the greatest impact on the translation customer's customers is through mutual trust based on sustained dialogue.

The good news, for translators aiming to work for the most discerning customers, is that such relationships are increasingly seen as essential in advertising, finance and banking.
The bad news is that in other industries this type of relationship is less common and more difficult to both establish and maintain.
And once such a relationship has been established, there is the risk that a purchasing  executive might decide that intellectual services like translation are a commodity, like nuts and bolts, and that prices must be driven down.

For yours truly, one lesson is that these industries have something to learn not only from Bill's ground-breaking article, but also from the advertising, finance and banking industries where more people appear to know what words are worth. And where purchasing department are not responsible for buying in intellectual services.

The Word Gym page on transcreation closes with the comment:
"If your copy is going to work well in another language, in another culture, you need additional creative input."
We couldn't agree more...

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