What Does a Transcreation Service Look Like for a Freelance Translator?

Freelance translator sitting at desk thinking about her transcreation service

Written by Gwenydd Jones

Translator, translator trainer and copywriter

Transcreation is a hot topic at the moment. This is, in part, because artificial intelligence is improving. So, creativity in the translation process is a way for humans to differentiate themselves from machines. This article explores what a transcreation service might look like for a freelance translator.

Transcreation is a combination of translation and copywriting (see my article “What is Transcreation?“). But, in our daily work, a transcreation service covers a broad spectrum of activities. Sometimes this means donning our translator’s hat. Other times, we switch into the copywriter’s seat.

Lucy recently explored price as one way of differentiating between transcreation and translation. She said that part of a transcreator’s job may involve creating a text based on a Spanish brief or notes. This is controversial because a strict definition of transcreation might require there to be a finished source text.

The real world seems uninterested in rules. A practical example of what Lucy describes is SEO blogging to target a specific customer base. E.g. a legal blog targeting British retirees in Spain. The lawyer will know what content they want. But, if the target client is British, why would they go to the trouble and expense of producing a final version in Spanish? And who better than a transcreator specialising in law and SEO copywriting to create a sales blog based on the lawyer’s brief and notes?

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Further controversy lies in whether there is a difference between transcreation and creative translation. In her article on transcreation services for the creative industries, Lucy focuses on transcreation in marketing. But she also describes how she used transcreation when translating subtitles for the Lucky Fred cartoon. Some may argue that creative translation would be the term to use there. I can see how this works as a way of breaking things down academically. But, on a real job, will the customer care what you call it as long as you do it well?

If a literary translator spends months trying to get into the head of an author, to produce a creative translation for the title of a novel, how different is the thinking process from a transcreator researching a client’s brand strategy to transcreate their slogan? Both are destined to sell.

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