Translation vs Transcription: Similarities and Differences

One of the distinct features of humans is that they have many forms of communication which allows speakers and listeners from different cultures and languages to communicate effectively without any misinterpretation.

Translation and transcription are some of the tools used to ensure the ease of communication. While both the term may look and sound quite similar but they describe two totally distinct practices. Both these terms stand alone; however, they are often used in combination.

Let’s look at each other and find out the use for each, their differences and similarities and how they work together.

What is Translation?

Translation is the process of converting text files from one language to another. Suppose, you have an English file but you want to convert it into French, this conversion is called Translation. A translator must be the native speaker of the target language, as well as extremely proficient in both the languages.  

Translation is very helpful in a variety of contexts such as medical documents, legal documents, and informational flyers. It is also very popular in literary works and news organizations who wish to reuse the stories originally written in a different language.

It is great to use translation service when you want to expand the current market, create bigger footholds or enter a new market. Visit for accurate and affordable translation services.

What is transcription? 

Transcription is the process of writing down from audio/video file or spoken words in their original language and for word-to-word accuracy. If you have an audio or video file with the source language as English, then the transcribed text will also be in English. 

Transcription is used for a variety of purposes and one of the prime reasons for transcribing is for the added availability of a searchable content. If an original video is of 30 minutes then the transcribed text will help the user to find the exact time of a particular subject being mentioned. 

It is widely used in journalistic and academic context in order to turn audio/video interviews into text documents that can be quoted and cited wherever necessary. Medical and legal contexts are also common in transcription; when a doctor or patient needs all the information in writing from a complex meeting or when a court case requires transcripts of witness statements. Hire a transcriptionist from India and save up to 70%.

Similarities between translation and transcription 

Translation and transcription frequently work together, with transcription being the first step before the text file goes on for the second step, that is, translation. Let’s say we have a brilliant new French movie which you want to watch but all the dialogues are spoken in French and you obviously do not understand it. So, the first step will be to transcribe the file into texts word by word. These texts can now be used as subtitles for the deaf or hard of hearing viewers. Now, these texts can be translated into any language and can be used as subtitles or scripts.

They both aim to ensure a high degree of accuracy and maintaining the information contained in the content to the best of their ability. That being said, the major similarity between the two is that both of them are used for an ease of communication and seamless experience for every user. Additionally, they both involve written documents as outputs.

Difference between translation and transcription 

Translation and transcription are two different concepts and are used for different purposes. The primary difference between the two is that translation involves converting the source language in to another language while transcription involves only the source language.  

While a translator must be well-versed in both the languages, it is not important for a transcriptionist. A transcriptionist can only know the source language and the work can be done. Hire a transcriptionist from India to save up to 70%.

Moreover, translation is far more complex than transcription. Translation not only involves writing down what is being said but it also involves the precise sentiments to be translated in different language. Sometimes, word-to-word translation does not have the essence of the sentiments and can be extremely off the track.  So, it requires a critical amount of thinking and expertise which makes it far more challenging. Whereas, a transcriptionist just have to write down what is being said rather than how it is being said. 

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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