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Translation, Interpreting,Transcreation: What’s the Difference?

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How do you communicate with someone, say a potential client, if you don’t speak each other’s language? Suppose you attend a conference with international speakers. How do you understand what they’re saying? Have you ever wondered why the same products have different names in different countries? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to these questions because there is a specialized language service for each of these situations: translation, interpretation, transcreation, localization.


First, translations are written, and to translate is to communicate meaning in a different language using equivalent words.

One of the pitfalls are the literal translations, whether written or oral. They don’t always make sense in the target language and may cause a problem. Or, with luck, make everyone laugh. Take the Spanish phrase “tomar el pelo”.  If you say, “I’m just drinking your hair!” your listener will be confused. Hair is not for drinking! You meant to say you’re poking fun at them.

There are many translation tools and software available online powered by artificial intelligence. Basically, machine translation automates the translation process. It may look like translators will soon be out of a job. Not so fast. The human touch is irreplaceable to understand and translate nuance in the pre- and post-editing stages and avoid costly mistakes.


Interpreting is the oral version of translation facilitated by an interpreter in real time. For example, an interpreter may be needed at a business meeting, or an international conference.

There are different types of interpreting. In consecutive interpreting, the speaker talks for a few minutes and then allows the interpreter to translate. In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter converts the speech into the target language over microphones and headsets with a 30-second delay. The professional can be in the same room or work remotely via Zoom, for example.

In the whispered interpreting modality, the interpreter sits next to an individual or group and whispers the translation. This is more common in business or diplomatic meetings.

Phone-based interpreting can be simultaneous or consecutive, although simultaneous can be less accurate over the phone. This type of service can be arranged quickly, and the interpreter can be located anywhere else.


Localization is a form of translation in which a language professional adapts a piece of content for a new region and includes cultural elements and nuance. The idea is that the content flows seamlessly and sounds natural and not stilted and translated. The text may be technically correct, but it must resonate with the target audience as well. There are many examples in advertising where the brand name wasn’t localized, and the target audience was either offended or amused. There are some hilarious fails in this link! Don’t be that company, hire a localization specialist.


Transcreation is a sort of creative translation and is used in marketing and advertising. The content or copy is translated in such a way that it is relevant and coherent in the new language. It’s especially useful when translating slogans or taglines, or even rebranding. Besides being proficient in the language, a good transcreator must know cultural nuances and slang, be trained in creative writing, know about sociopolitical events of the target culture, be creative, and have copywriting skills.

The team of experts at English Services offer interpreting, translation, localization, and transcreation services, as well as language training. After all, we’re here to help people communicate better!