What is the Difference Between Creative Translation and Literal Translation?

Last Updated On: September 17, 2019

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When any type of document is translated, typically the requirement is that an accurate translation becomes the end product. This is what the client pays for. Sometimes, however, translators are asked to produce a creative translation. This word means using your translation skills to create something that is new.

Generally speaking, translation refers to the transferring of both words and phrases from a source text into a second language emphasizing the importance of retaining the original text’s meaning. Creative translation isn’t seen as just substituting the words in language A into the words of language B but the approach to a creative and flexible translation. For example, creative translations include adverts with taglines that quickly attract attention because certain language is used. If the marketing material in one language was translated literally or word for word into the 2nd language it may not come out with successful results.

Difficulties with creative translations

Creative translations require the ability of the translator to comprehend the text and translate it to suit the targeted market. For example, when considering a new product that needs to be translated from English to Japanese, it is important for the translator to gain a grasp of the attributes of the product. He or she then needs to be able to write an attention-grabbing copy in another language. This requires an imaginative mind.

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The benefits of a creative translation

In a creative translation, high priority is put on conveying information effectively while using innovative wording and expressions in the targeted language. If this has been done well, the targeted audience will gain as they will get a clearer understanding of the product targeted.

A creative translation is tougher than a typical translation

The words ‘creative translation’ might describe what the client wants but this does not mean the source text is ignored. Attention has to be given to the source text gist and tone as well. Sometimes it is better for the translator to forget the source text and just write a new text in the required language which emphasizes what the client has requested in the right sort of language.

So, in the end, a true creative translation is quite different from a traditional translation as it is better for the translator to begin from scratch to create a text in a different language.

A language is a creative tool

Language is without a doubt creative. Translators resemble artists in the way that an artist makes use of colours to define their work while translators will produce unique text using language as their tool. Because translators are extremely familiar with at least two languages, this adds to their ability to be creative. Their skills rest in their ability to be able to produce a creative translation that enhances its use in a specific area and aids understanding.

In the end, whatever time is spent on the translation the original text just cannot be ignored. A creative translation just makes sure the original text is translated into fits precisely the same tone and meaning of the original text so that people who read it can relate to the product in the same way whatever the language it is written in. Of course, this involves quite a bit of research and creativity because cultural differences often determine how someone understands a document so a creative translation needs to be adapted to match this.

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