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What’s the Difference Between Translation, Localization, & Transcreation? (Video)


In our latest “Quick answers to your translation questions” video, we tackle one of the first questions that people usually ask us when they first starting looking to release their content in other languages. “What is the difference between Translation, Localization, and Transcreation?”.

All three services are describing strategies to make content accessible in a language other than it was originally created in.  But the process, as well as the results, can be quite different.

Let’s take a closer look.

Translation has always existed as a way to transfer meaning from one language to another. For example, if I say “What is your name?” in English, the translation in Japanese would be “O namae wa?”.

The final meaning is the same but how it’s expressed in each language s different. There shouldn’t be deviations from what’s said in the source content with translation.

Pretty simple. Let’s move on to Localization

Localization comes from a background in software translation. It was born out of the necessity for products and services to be functional across linguistic and cultural barriers.

On the linguistic side, it’s things like spelling. As in, color in the US becomes colour in the UK.

Localization also translates the meaning or words in a way that’s culturally appropriate. To take the same example, elevator in the US would be lift, in the UK.

Then localization goes beyond the text itself. We’re talking about currency units, paper size, date, formats, text length, etc. For instance, German takes a lot more space than Chinese to say the same thing.

Any changes made to meet local expectation and product need are covered under the umbrella of localization.

Now we know what translation and localization are, what about the third of the trifecta, transcreation?

Well, transcreation originated in marketing and the need to engage with foreign audiences on an emotional level. Transcreated content uses locally appropriate cultural references and language to convey brand messages.

A transcreation project will often start out with a creative brief to make sure that the transcreator knows exactly what the goals and meaning behind the text are so that they can recreate content with the same impact and effectiveness in another language. This may mean changing the letter of the text quite a bit.

Transcreation is often used in marketing campaigns and branding as these need to create an emotional connection with target markets.

If you are still unsure which of these three services you should use for your international product or service we would be happy to talk.