Creation, creation, creation – is translation really a creative art?

With the world getting smaller and international business growing bigger by the day, it’s no wonder the translation industry is booming. As translation encompasses pretty much everything from complex medical documents to classic literature, it’s never long at some point before a translator is faced with a more creative text. Creative translations require a special touch – but, as LSPs or translation buyers, are we really within our rights to expect every translator to be creative?

Should every translator be creative?

To be honest, that’s a tough one. When translators learn their craft, part of their studies focus on the fine line between source text and target text. It’s up to the translator to decide which they should be more faithful to. So, to answer that question, if you look at it one way, the answer is yes. Every translator will need to be a little bit creative to successfully convey the meaning of the source text in the target language. But, if you’re wondering if every translator needs to be a copywriter, the answer is probably no.

Creativity + specialism = a tough combination

When it comes to handling creative translations, it’s good to remember that not all creative texts are going to be the same. You may have some marketing materials aimed at medical professionals which will surely end up including some pretty specific medical terms. And this is where creative translations can get a bit problematic. Do you opt for a marketing specialist with little or no prior industry knowledge? Or do you select a highly specialised translator, who’s not all that familiar with copywriting? It’s a tough call. So… what’s the solution?

Set some goals

If you ever find yourself faced with the above conundrum, the best thing to do would be to set some goals. What’s more important to you? Being creative? Or would you prefer to place an emphasis on terminology? If you’re not sure, consider your target audience. Is this translation going to be read by the general public? Or is it going out to doctors, for example? If you’re targeting a wider group, you need to be as inclusive as possible, as too much industry jargon might alienate your potential customers. If, on the other hand, you’re targeting professionals, you’re best off going with terminology. While you need an element of creativity in there, the most important thing is to make sure the translations are perfect, as you don’t want to appear unprofessional in the eyes of highly skilled and knowledgeable experts.

What if I really do need a mix?

If, in the end, you need to combine your creative translation with terminological excellence, don’t worry. A reliable translation provider will be able to help. What they’ll do is put a team together to work on your texts, including a subject matter expert and a more creatively minded linguist. In this case, the subject matter expert will work on the text to ensure that everything is accurate, while the more creative one in the team will “spice” the translation up. This is a tried and tested approach that really works.

As you can see, there’s a lot more to creative translations than may first meet the eye. If you’d like some advice on how best to handle your texts, feel free to get in touch. We’re always happy to help!

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