Translation, Localization and Transcreation – What‘s the difference?

Translation, Localization and Transcreation are terms you have probably heard if you ever dug into language services. But where are the differences?

Translation operates in the most literal way. During translation there will be some stylistic changes needed in order to ensure good textual fluency and accurate understanding in the target language. However, translators try to stick to the source text wherever possible.

Localization aims to improve the translation linguistically and the translator makes creative choices to convey the content most suitably for the target language and culture.

Let’s exemplify: in the USA we say ‘elevator’ and in the UK we say ‘lift’ – both are English but a US audience would maybe be confused by the inaccurate word ‘lift’ in the translation and vice versa.

Transcreation detaches itself from the literal source and instead aims to maintain message and tone in a new wording that fits better in the target language and culture.

This can particularly be useful for creative works such as slogans or humorous content such as jokes.


All three of these forms often blend in together – a translator will often encounter elements that they have to localize or transcreate and they should be prepared for it.

The likelihood of encountering elements that require stylistic choices by the translator increases with the amount of creativity in a work or the extent to which they function to be entertaining or linguistically clever, such as marketing texts, films or literary translation.

Daniel Jelis

Daniel Jelis

Head of Marketing

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