Insights May 15, 2020

Can translation tools be used to cut transcreation costs?

Living Word
By Living Word

As an agency that specialises in multilingual copywriting, also known as transcreation, we’re asked on a regular basis if translation tools (CAT tools) can be used to save on time and costs, in the same way they can be used on standard translation. Our answer? Possibly – possibly not.

Translation software is highly beneficial where large volumes of copy and specialist texts are involved – such as catalogues, technical manuals and information-heavy websites. Using tools leads to increased productivity and a consistency in quality.

But what about transcreation? Can these tools be used when it comes to creatively written texts? Well, it depends.

How creative is the text itself?

There is sometimes a misconception that a standard translation treatment can make a text too literal and dry. A skilled translator, however, will always look at what makes sense for the local market and provide a suitable solution. In the case of reasonably straight-forward marketing texts, creative transcreation might not be needed at all.

A more technical text, on the other hand, might contain creative elements such as puns, snappy headlines or taglines that require separate transcreation. In other words, a campaign, or even a single piece of content, could potentially both contain elements suitable for translation with tools and require transcreation for which the tools won’t be useful.

Keeping it consistent 

We often talk about consistency as an important quality factor in translation, where many expressions are to be translated in the same way throughout a document. This is an instance where translation tools can cause problems if not handled properly. If a misjudged translation is added, for instance, it can have a knock-on effect throughout the entire document, causing repeated inaccuracies and confusion for the reader.

CAT tools need to be constantly managed and updated, which can in and of itself be time-consuming and costly. Luckily, translation memories and glossaries aimed at specific creative slogans, puns and other playful language can be created, aiding the linguist in the aim for consistency. These might not make for a faster and cheaper translation – but they will ensure that everything remains consistent.

Keeping it dynamic

In a busy world of tight deadlines and squeezed budgets, we are always trying to simplify the services we offer with foolproof processes. But when it comes to rewriting highly creative content in other languages, the reality is that it’s not always simple.

Language is dynamic, personal and constantly evolving – and that’s the beauty of it. But what this means is that, on many occasions, you simply have to leave it up to the linguist and their creative talent to work their magic on the copy. A lot of the time, the price you pay for attempting to cut time and costs by giving the job to machines simply won’t be worth it.