Centre for Translation Studies


Multimodality, translation and transcreation: Negotiating definitions

5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, 08 May 2019

Anne Ketola

Event Information

Open to



Mara Benetti


G01 Lankester LT
Medawar Building
Gower Street

Translating multimodal texts can be a highly creative process: translations need to adhere to the messages created by various non-verbal modes as well as to possible space constraints caused by the multimodal layout. This process may therefore require translation solutions that radically diverge from the traditional standards of translation practice. It has been suggested that the term translation does not always fully account for the transfer of multimodal messages from one language and culture to another. Therefore, some translation scholars now employ the term transcreation – merging translation and (re)creation – to describe processes of transfer that call for extensive adaptations of verbal material in order to create multimodally coherent products for a new target audience.

Transcreation is, however, a highly debatable concept: Discussing creative translation practices as transcreation instead of translation can easily downplay the creativity required in all translation. During my talk, I will introduce arguments in favor of and against the use of this concept, and invite the audience to reflect on this with the help of empirical examples. I begin the talk by introducing how the concept of transcreation has traditionally been employed in Translation Studies, tracing it back to the Brazilian translator Haroldo de Campos’ poetics of transcreation in the 1960s. I then discuss how the concept has reemerged in recent years, particularly in regard to the translation of multimodal artifacts. Building on a corpus of children’s picturebooks and their translations, I then move on to introduce empirical examples of the radical transformations that may take place when multimodal texts are conveyed to new target audiences. In other words, I will present examples that could be considered as instances of transcreation. The presentation hopes to spark conversation about whether transcreation is a useful concept in Translation Studies.

This seminar is free – no registration required.

About the Speaker

Dr Anne Ketola

Anne Ketola, PhD, is a University Lecturer in Translation Studies at Tampere University, Finland. Her research examines multimodality in translation as well as the translation of children’s literature, especially children’s picturebooks. She is the author of Translating Picturebooks. Revoicing the Verbal, the Visual and the Aural or a Child Audience (Routledge, 2018; together with Riitta Oittinen and Melissa Garavini). Ketola is also the initiator and a board member of the Aarresaari (“Treasure Island”) Children’s Book Translation Award, awarded in Finland biennially for an outstanding translation of a book aimed primarily for a child audience.