What's the meaning of Transcreation?

Since I started with this blog and business website, many friends have asked me about the meaning of the name: what is transcreativity? What is trancreation? That’s why I decided to write this post, where I talk about the meaning of transcreation or the creative translation.

Transcreation began to be used around ten years ago and always in the field of marketing and advertising. As it own names says, it is a mix of translation and creativity: it’s when you use your creativity in order to transfer something from one language to another.

However, in the last few years, this word has been used in terms of audiovisual translation and videogames localization. The kind of texts we find in these products belong to artistic projects and, therefore, creativity plays an important role. For instance, think in a videogame for children, where the characters are vegetables with puns. The character in English is called Mollyflower and it’s a housewife cauliflower. The literal translation in Spanish would be Mollyflor and it would lose part of the joke. One transcreative solution would be Mariflor.

Some examples of the creative translation are best known, because we find them in TV or movies. For example, in the serie The Bing Bang Theory, Sheldon uses a word all the time: Bazinga! This word has no meaning in Spanish and it was translated for: ¡Zas, en toda la boca!, which was previously used in Family Guy and the audience remembered.

Another example, where we can hear multiples of transcreations is in the serie Two Broke Girls, because it has a lot of puns that require an additional creationist effort in order to create a fluent Spanish version. Check this out:

HAN: That’s why I never wear overalls, because you would be…

CAROLINE:  …overall…

MAX: …disgusted.

HAN:  Por eso nunca llevo un peto, porque me diríais…

CAROLINE:  …te lo…

MAX: …peto.

In English, they made a pun with two words that mean the same: overall, as clothing item; and overall, as adverb. As you can see, the translator had to forget all about the original and find a new word game that sounds natural and can also be synchronized with the lips.

Hard, isn’t it? Have you seen or heard other transcreative examples? Do you think it there are better solutions? Don’t forget to comment and share!


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