12 Mar /12

Comic translations – transferring humor across 20 languages

One work stream we are involved in is the transcreation of explanatory medical comics for children. We localise these into 20+ languages; providing a transcreation service which entails content adaptation rather than translation. We ensure that, whilst staying true to the original message the local culture is reflected, allowing customers to achieve maximum impact in each locale.

Highly creative linguists are used in this process who specialise in ensuring the same impact is made on the target audience as the original source text intended.

Probably the most difficult, but most important content adaptation involves humorous content. What one culture finds amusing may in fact be offensive in another; or the meaning simply ‘lost in translation’ if literally translated. Fitting different languages into the same size bubble is also a challenge as often graphically these adaptations cannot be made. Cultural sensitivity plays also a role. Are the characters and words applicable and does how the action is portrayed fit into the cultural setting? Instead of just translating the original version the creators chose to do a reinvention instead. A deep emotional connection has to be established. Comic translation is not focused on just the translation of words but to create a culturally appropriate version.

Transcreation is only a part of the translation process. It takes culture customs, slang, vernacular, colloquialisms, and connotations into consideration when creating translations.

So instead of transferrinf word for word, creativity is used to make sure that that target audience is able to relate to the translation.

Its not just about Comics: Transcreation is often used for marketing and advertising purposes. A brochure, an advertisement or a commercial relate to a foreign audience and therefore cannot be literally translated.

Transcreation is an extremely demanding, but profoundly rewarding form of localization – the benefits of choosing transcreation over standard translation for customers can be enormous and should form part of a company’s global strategy discussion at its outset.