Transcreation on a daily basis

When the routine of everyday life becomes a burden for us, and fatigue does not let up, we persistently seek a means of getting away from the mundane reality. Due to the fact that not everyone has a fondness for physical activity, turning on Netflix and lying sprawled out lazily on the couch seems to be the most comfortable option. At this point, an important question arises – what to watch? Action films overwhelm us with their lack of realism, romances feed us with the idealistic and rarely found form of love, and horror movies offer more laughter than scares. This is when rewatching cinematic classics such as Shrek is particularly tempting.

The 2001 fairytale debut is regarded as a mine of humour; both linguistic and cultural jokes permeate the characters’ utterances. Thus, hankering to learn their secrets, we commence to notice that a large part of the characters’ lines in English were completely altered for the Polish audience. For example, instead of a reference to The Muffin Man (the famous English fairy tale), we hear about a romantic interest between Żwirek and Muchomorek (characters from a Czechoslovakian production broadcasted in Poland) in one of Gingerbread Man’s utterances. Now, this change is in question – what contributed to it and why? The only correct answer is transcreation.

What is transcreation?

The name was created by combining two English words: ‘translation’ and ‘creation’. At first glance you may notice that transcreation is a far cry from an ordinary, standard translation. It involves an unusual approach to the source text – delving into all its layers, understanding its emotions and humour and translating it into another language or rewriting it while preserving its original character. Therefore, a very good knowledge of languages is not sufficient; transcreation requires creativity and familiarity with the culture of the countries and social groups to which the translated text is addressed.

Transcreation as an indispensable marketing weapon

This process, combining elements of translation and copywriting, turns out to be crucial not only in cinematography, but also in promoting products and services on the global market. In order to make an advertising campaign successful, a transcreator needs to be familiar with the cultural realities of a particular country – from popular wordplays to colour psychology. It goes without saying that a catchy advertising slogan and a well-chosen set of colours for the logo are integral to achieving the main goal of transcreation – to evoke the same reaction in the recipient that the original product does.

Transcreation in films, marketing and… computer games?

The computer games industry is increasingly showing interest in skilled transcreators; they are essential in the process of releasing virtual items to the foreign markets, where certain elements, such as violence or nudity, may not be accepted. Consequently, their knowledge of a culture of the given country will allow them to spot the unacceptable excerpts and replace them with more appropriate ones, so that the original character of the game is anything but impaired.

Surrounded by transcreation

Television, radio, billboards, films or computer games – everywhere one looks, they are confronted with transcreation. Despite its ubiquity, this process requires a high level of linguistic and creative skills, which can appear to be no mean feat for ordinary translators or copywriters. Therefore, this process of message adaptation is widely used in the various industries, whose products or services, after hiring a transcreator, are able to enthuse the customer.

(translation M.C.)

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