Posts Tagged ‘The Little Book of Transcreation’

The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #29

People may share a language, but be divided by cultural factors that stop communications from working.

For example, Northern Ireland has a strong sectarian divide between Catholics and Protestants that does not exist elsewhere in the UK.

In 1690, Protestant King William of Orange defeated a Catholic army.

Ever since, orange has been a symbol of Protestantism.

Mobile network Orange had great success with the tagline “The future’s bright, the future’s Orange” on the UK mainland, but this would not have gone down well with the Catholic population in Northern Ireland.

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The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #28

Idioms should be handled with caution. If translated literally, they often make little sense!

Take the English phrase “to kill two birds with one stone”. In other languages, the equivalent idioms are rather different.

Germans “hit two flies with one blow”.

Chinese “shoot two hawks with one arrow”.

Burmese “get two pieces with one cut”.

Koreans “catch a pheasant and its eggs as well”.

And Italians “snare two pigeons with one bean”.

The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #27

Brand names too sometimes need transcreation.

The Mitsubishi Pajero SUV was named after the Pampas Cat of Argentina (scientific name: Leopardus pajeros).

However, in Spain and Latin America, it is called the Montero (meaning “mountain warrior”).

Why? Because “pajero” is a derogatory sexual term in Spanish.

177_LBOT #27_montero 177_LBOT #27_pajero

The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #26

Analogies should be handled with care. What is common in one country might be inappropriate or irrelevant in another. It is therefore important to use analogies that your target market is familiar with.

Walt Disney is an excellent example of how this can be done successfully. In the US, the Walt Disney World Resort is described as “half the size of Rhode Island”. But the analogy requires some knowledge of US geography.

So in Japan, the park is said to be “the size of the Tokyo subway system”, and in the UK, “the size of greater Manchester”. This makes the audience feel more included – and the copy more effective.

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The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #25

Since 1969, BMW has used the tagline “Freude am Fahren” in Germany. The English translation of this is “Pleasure in driving”.

Would that be as effective as “The Ultimate Driving Machine”?

Same idea, different words – this is what transcreation is all about.

165_LBOT #25 The Ultimate Driving Machine



The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #23

No Comments » Written on February 25th, 2014 by
Categories: UK, USA
Tags: , , , , ,

The Harry Potter books have been translated into over 60 languages. But the US editions shed perhaps the most light on the transcreation process. Famously, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was renamed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. But the changes go deeper.

To give just one example, in the US a “jumper” is not a pullover, but a kind of dress. By changing it to “sweater”, the meaning came across in the US, but a British “feel” was retained.

The books’ US publisher says. “I wasn’t trying to ‘Americanize’ them … I wanted to make sure that an American kid would have the same literary experience as a British kid.”

This principle of recreating the reader experience is where the magic of transcreation resides.

163_LBOT #23 sorcerer's stone 163_LBOT #23 philospher's stone

The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #22

No Comments » Written on February 17th, 2014 by
Categories: Argentina
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161_LBOT #22

Different pronunciations in different languages can be a problem – or an opportunity.

In 2009, PepsiCo found out that almost 25% of people in Argentina could not pronounce the “ps” sound. They were calling the drink “Pecsi”.

Rather than fight this local idiosyncrasy, Pepsi chose to embrace it.

It ran a campaign in which its familiar branding elements were recreated using the phonetic spelling.

The message was, whether you say “Pepsi” or “Pecsi”, it still tastes better than Coke.

As a result, brand recognition increased 23%. Proof of what happens when multinational brands work with local culture.


The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #19

Transcreating jingles is not just about finding the right words – they also have to fit the tune.

Gillette’s German version of “The best a man can get” failed on both counts.

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“Für das Beste im Mann” (“For the best inside a man”) didn’t really make sense – facial hair is on the outside.

Plus, the line was too short, so each word had to be dragged out longer than sounds natural.

And it doesn’t even rhyme with “Gillette”!

The “Für das Be-e-e-est-e-e im Ma-a-an” jingle has therefore become something of a national laughing stock.

The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #17

One of the best-selling novels of recent years is Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But did you know its original Swedish title, Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, means “Men that hate women”?

In liberal, social-democratic Sweden, the overt gender politics of the original name were no barrier to success. But the English publishers reportedly felt that a literal translation was equivalent to “Books that don’t sell”.

So they used a transcreation instead. And with over a million copies sold last year in the UK alone, it’s hard to argue that they made the wrong decision.

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The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #1

Transcreation takes into account the difference in contexts between the source and target versions. This often means making cultural adjustments.

In the biblical phrase “The Lamb of God”, the lamb symbolizes innocence.

But in the Inuit (Eskimo) version of the bible, this expression is translated as “The Seal of God”.

This is because seals represent innocence in Eskimo culture.

After all, you don’t find many lambs running around on the Arctic ice cap …

The Seal of God