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To transcreate is more than to simply translate

On a recent trip to Canada I realized just how important transcreation really is. Canada has two official languages, namely English and French, but having previously met Canadians raised in one language or the other, I quickly learned that the majority of them are not perfectly bilingual – not even close in most cases. So I wasn’t sure what it would be like once I got there.


It was really cool to see that most information was available in both languages, with the most explicit examples (in my case as a tourist) occurring in museums – all of their signs were invariably in both English and French. The only thing that was different was the order the languages were presented, meaning in Ontario, English came first, whereas in Québec, French was first.


Okay, so everything is in two languages, which would mean the texts were exactly the same, only one is in English and the other was in French, right? Hm, not quite. For, you see, the people in charge of writing these texts were clearly well-versed in the art of transcreation and I was amazed to see what an exceptional job they had done.


Transcreation goes beyond merely translating something; it actually means to rewrite something so that the essence of a text and its essential information are included, but the writing style follows the norms of the language the text is being translated into. The result is not a simple “word-for-word” translation. This is never more blatantly clear than when it comes to titles.


Here is one example – I was at a special exhibition about photographer William Notman at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Québec, when I noticed these two information panels.




It is clear that even though the information conveyed and the facts mentioned are indeed 100% the same, the text was not translated word-for-word.


At Teksto, we always try to transcreate, rather than translate. We have profound knowledge of the languages we work with, and are therefore capable of ensuring that your texts will always be written in the way that works best in the chosen language.

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