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The History of Transcreation

25th July 2020
Reading time 2 min

The History of Transcreation

The concept of Transcreation is relatively new in the translation industry, gaining its registered trademark in 2000. The term was first used in the 1960s and 1970s in reference to creative translation services. It was later used in the gaming industry during the 1980s in order to make games more entertaining and relevant culturally within different regions. Basically, names, scripts, scenery and characters needed to be more applicable to various countries. Furthermore, transcreation benefits were fully acknowledged in the 1990s when advertising agencies understood that more in-depth translated services were needed for global campaigns.

”Advertising and marketing copy is known as two functions of language, cognitive function and poetic function. Accordingly, the goal of this type of copy is to create a text that resonates with readers and is, likewise, alluring with its words.”

Currently, transcreation has become more mainstream in terms of translation services, becoming increasingly more vital for international suppliers. In fact, as transcreation became ever more popular, new teams were created by advertising agencies, which specialise in providing said services.

In academia, the term transcreation has been used for around 60 years in association with literary texts. In 1957, Indian poet and scholar Purushottama Lal used this word to describe his translation from Sanskrit to English of classical Indian drama. He explained that “the thing to do is to attempt to preserve not only the Sanskrit language but Hindu tradition, which it enshrines”. Lal aimed to portray the “spirit” of the copy and repurpose it in English to another audience, “trying to reflect, somehow, the cultural source”. However, for marketers and advertisers, transcreation copy exclusively refers to marketing and advertising copy.

Advertising and marketing copy is known as two functions of language, cognitive function and poetic function. Accordingly, the goal of this type of copy is to create a text that resonates with readers and is, likewise, alluring with its words. Most descriptions of transcreation focus on the cultural implications and purpose over its creative writing services, making transcreation a mixed bag of translation and copywriting.

Creativity is not the only thing that is vital for effective transcreation. Successful copy adaptations are never word-for-word; they also involve creativity. Referring to transcreation as creative translation does not imply that translation is not creative. However, transcreation and translation should be considered as different services altogether.

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