In my last post I dealt with the global idea of the closing lecture at the Sixth Latin American Translation and Interpreting Congress held in Buenos Aires last month, and although I loved the whole Congress, there was one lecture that caught my complete attention. This lecture was about a new type of translation, which I actually consider a combination of copywriting and literary translation and here I will explain to you why.

The process of translation is basically the same for most types of translations. For instance, there are four macro-skills that are the basis of all translators’ knowledge, which include reading comprehension, researching, analyzing and composing skills[1]. However, the skills and abilities needed for translating a legal document and a novel are completely different. Therefore, we must be oriented to what our professional practice is going to be like[2].

Having said that, literary translation –also known as “free translation”­– actually allows the translator to be creative when remaking the message (although the message is kept the same), but the form and organization of the Original Text (OT) is not kept[3]. Basically, this method implies a “meaning for meaning” translation, instead of a “word for word”.

On the other hand, copywriting is the art of creating persuasive messages to generate a given action. It can be said that copywriters are marketing specialists, psychologists and salesmen –all in one – but above all, they are what the client wants them to be. This means that they adapt their writing style and tone “depending on who they are speaking as and who they are speaking to.”[4]

In comparison to literary translation, when we talk about transcreation, we talk about a completely new message. And comparison to copywriting, if we consider the three levels of communication suggested by Witte ­(object – communicative –interaction), transcreation only keeps the communicative level, or the purpose and intention of the message[5].

According to Rosario Ocampo, transcreation is the “process in which meaning, intention and power of the OT are kept” in order to recreate the same impact on the target audience. There are many factors that influence this process, such as marketing, cultural adaptation, advertisement, etc., which makes it impossible to be carried out by machine translation or TMs.

Creativity is the main ability of transcreation and this is why I consider it a combination of literary translation and copywriting. There is no literature available about this field of translation, but in summary, I can say that a transcreator is a translator who has the permission to recreate a new message by translating into a new language in order to achieve a client’s objective.

[1] Abdellah, A. S. (2002) What Every Novice Translator Should Know. Translation Journal. Volume 6, Number 3.

[2] Vega Cernuda, M. A. (n/d) Hacia una recalificación del perfil del traductor. Centro Virtual Cervantes. Number 3.

[3] Newmark, Peter. A textbook of translation. London: Prentice Hall, 1988. Print.


[5] Witte, K. (1992) Putting the fear back into fear appeals: The extended parallel process model. Communication Monographs. Volume 59, 329 – 349

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