Japanese transcreation is translation combined with editing, adaptation or copywriting. An accurate, natural and relatively literal translation is enough for most documents. But in some cases – notably the localization of marketing materials – it is vital that a translation is creatively adapted to the context.
For example, because Japanese uses a complex range of politeness levels, a business document that is simply clear and friendly in English could easily come across as over-familiar or rude in Japanese. Likewise, when humour is translated literally it can be unfunny, incomprehensible, or even offensive. Many notorious marketing translation bloopers come into this category.
The transcreation process
Similarly to copywriting, the translator often makes use of a brief from the client as a guide to how the text should be adapted for the target audience. The translator may then provide a number of transcreation suggestions with explanations of how the adapted text is different to the original. As part of that process “back translations” can be used. These are very-literal translations only for information. For example, if a humorous element is translated creatively into Japanese a literal back-translation into English will explain that (even if the Japanese humour might not translate!)
Transcreation can range from lightly editing a translated text to make it more natural and appropriate, to wholesale re-writing using the original text only as a general guide. Due to the research and review process involved in transcreation, it typically requires a higher budget than translation. Depending on the specific process appropriate to your text, we may either suggest a price by the word or by the hour.
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