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Translation vs Transcription: The Definitive Comparison

By: Admin Posted on Mon, 19-02-2024

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When dealing with multilingual languages, it is always best to seek help from professionals as they are well aware of the task. Now the main question arises, what do you need in this multilingual situation, is it translation, or transcription? This is why help from professionals is important as they give expert solutions for your task at hand. It is a common misconception that translation and transcription are very much similar to each other. However, there is a direct and much bigger difference between the two. One can say that both facilitate communication but their goals are very much distinct from each other.

So let's find out what this difference is. But first, let's discuss the importance of these two. Of course, both translation and transcription arise in the context of facilitating communication between audiences. In translation, it is the difference of languages that raises the importance of creating a solution where all of the multilingual speakers can understand each other. Now translation and transcription both have their strong suits.

Table of Content

  1. Beginning With the Basic - What is Translation?
  2. Components of Translation
    1. Importance of Source Language or Text
    2. Language Proficiency
    3. Main Element - Target Audience
    4. Use of Industry Specific Terminologies
    5. The Concept of Creativity
    6. Confidentiality of Documents
  3. Types of Translation
  4. Importance of Translation
  5. What is Transcription?
  6. Components of Transcription
  7. Transcription - Types
    1. Verbatim Transcription
    2. Non-Verbatim Transcription
    3. Intelligent Transcription
    4. Edited Transcription
  8. Differences between Transcription and Translation?
  9. Transcription vs. Translation: What Do You Need for Your Business?
  10. Challenges of Translation and Transcription
    1. Accuracy
    2. Translation of Idioms & Expressions
    3. Accents & Dialects
    4. Identification of Speakers
  11. Final Words!

Want to know more about translation and transcription in detail? Well, this article is specially crafted for you. So let's delve into it.

Beginning With the Basic - What is Translation?

Let's start with translation. You are probably aware of what translation is. In simple words, it is the process of conversion of text from one language to another. And yes, this process is to facilitate the communication between two different language speakers. Translation not only helps people at a personal level but also comes in handy at the professional level. Nowadays, it is very common for businesses and different firms to adopt translation practices in order to cater to global audiences.

But translation is not just the conversion of one language to another. There are multiple types and components of translation. The type of translation varies according to the audience. For example, if you are a business dealing with a global audience, you need to adapt your content according to the demands and preferences of the target audience.

Translation makes your content not only easy to read but also caters to the needs of your audience. Just imagine, you are a person from any bank. You need to translate your financial reports and documents in order to deal with an international customer. You, of course, know that you need to translate your documents. But do you know that you particularly need financial translation?

See, this is the beauty of translation, that it coincides with your every need. And it is translators who tell you about the complexities and the benefits that you get from translation. From our perspective, translation is itself a strong arsenal for global businesses. But don't worry, because we will describe this point in detail. For now, you know where translation is needed the most.

Components of Translation

It is the components of translation that make it suitable for your use. These components enhance the importance of translation solutions. Following are some of the components of translation, and without these, translation solutions won't be able to appeal to your target audience. One thing to add here is that translation is not only the conversion of words from one language to another.

This conversion can also be of any document, transcript, or even a video. Hence, the input doesn't matter as long as we get the desired product, which is the translated text.

Importance of Source Language or Text

The language from which we translate text is the source language. Of course, for a translator, knowledge of the source as well as the target language is important. This knowledge helps the translator to understand the intricacies of both languages in order to minimize the chances of mistranslations. Now the analysis of these source languages is important because in this way the translator will come to know the tone, meaning, and context of the languages that require translation. The most important thing here is to keep the intent and context of the source language in the target language.

It is solely the job of a translator to integrate the tone and intent very carefully. If the meaning of the source text is present in the translation, congratulations because you have achieved your goal.

Language Proficiency

Accuracy and language proficiency are the key components of translation. Without these, one can’t be sure whether the other person is getting the message or not. For instance, you are a Chinese clothing brand launching your brand in the United States. You definitely need English translation services in order to attract the general audience. If your translations are not accurate how can Americans understand what your business is and how are you supposed to generate revenue?

This is why language proficiency is a must element for translations as it guarantees that the target audience will grasp the concept that you intend to give them.

Main Element - Target Audience

Knowing the needs of your target audience is also a very necessary component. It helps brands to devise their translation plan. Let’s make you understand this crucial point with an example, and then we will direct it to translation.

Let's say that for a clothing brand, getting the attention of the audience is the top priority. When you are introducing your Western clothing business to a market where the audience is interested in Eastern outfits, your business won't make much of an impact on the audience. It is because you forgot the main element, which is introducing something that coincides with the interest of the audience. If you had introduced your Western clothing with a touch of Eastern ideas, your business would definitely have made an impact.

Similarly, if you translate your brand’s website for the understanding of the target audience in their native language, they will be tempted to at least see what you are selling. This is why we exert pressure on comprehending the needs of the audience.

Use of Industry-Specific Terminologies

When you seek professionals and native translators for the task of translation, your translation solutions are not only accurate but also contain industry-specific terms. The use of this industry-specific terminology makes your translated text authentic. And also, the audience is more likely to believe what your brand is saying. This process depends on the previous knowledge as well as the research skills of the translators.

Hence, if you want all translation components to be part of your translation solutions, you should look out for a professional translation company.

The Concept of Creativity

Word-to-word translations are not part of every translation process. Yes, there are certain areas or fields where word-to-word translation is mandatory. But there are also some areas where creativity is a necessary part of translations. This component makes your translation solutions unique from others. As we are talking about global audiences, creativity in translations makes your content unique and helps your business stand out among the swarm of other businesses in the global market. This gives your brand a competitive edge in the global market.

Confidentiality of Documents

This component is not an explicit component of translation but more of the job of a translator. Translation is not only sought for professional reasons but also for personal ones. This makes the confidentiality of these personal documents very necessary.

Types of Translation

There are multiple types of translation that vary according to the text that needs to be translated. For example, if the text consists of financial reports, you need a financial translation. If the text consists of business proposals, business translation is what you need. All you need to do is to determine and completely know about the type of text for which you need translation. And later hire a professional native translator.

Following are some of the types of translations that you should know about:

  • Legal Translation
  • Financial Translation
  • Medical and Healthcare Translation
  • Literary Translation
  • Machine Translation
  • Patent Translation
  • Nonprofit Translation
  • Media Translation
  • Life Sciences Translation
  • Technical and Engineering Translation
  • Audio & visual Translation, etc.

Importance of Translation

So we have discussed the types and the components of translation. Now let's talk about its importance in detail. The greater use of translation is needed in the global market where businesses are competing with each other in the race to generate greater revenue. With translation, you can be sure that your documents are accurately converted into a different language. It facilitates communication not only among languages but also among cultures.

For a global business, one of the best investments is translation. It helps them to raise awareness about their business and attract a large audience via multilingual translations. It also makes it easy for individuals to access information.

The reason why we know so much about other cultures and civilizations is because of the translation of the classic languages. Those languages surely don't exist today, nor do their speakers. It is only and only because of translation that classic literature is actively translated into numerous languages.

What is Transcription?

So by now, you know everything about translation, right? But what do you know about transcription? You have probably heard the word “transcription” through YouTube. Simply speaking, transcription is the process of converting the speech into a text format. This process enhances the reach of the videos because not everybody is interested in listening to videos. Some people like to read the transcript in order to skim it.

It increases the accessibility of your video content. It means that you provide the choice of either listening or reading, to your audience. Efficiently transcribed content helps your content reach places. It also means that people with hearing impairments can also understand your content.

Other than that it also helps people locate or search for certain words from the text. It is quite hard to find a certain piece of information from a video than from a written text.

Importance of Translation

One of the things that people often misunderstand about transcription is that this process deals with different languages. In other words, transcribing just involves recording the audio content in words. It is the representation of spoken language into words. As this process deals with only one language, the concept of multilingual audiences doesn't stand here.

For further clarification, let's start with a simple example. Imagine you are watching an informational video, but you don't have enough time, so you want to skim the details. This is where you will need the transcript of the video in order to glance over the important information.

Components of Transcription

A transcriptionist, transcription software, audio content, etc., are all important components of transcription. The importance of timecodes or timestamps is a debatable topic. Some critics are of the opinion that they should be a necessary part of transcription. However, some think of the opposite.

The importance of timestamps depends on whether the reader is reading transcriptions while watching the video or not. If you are reading the transcript while watching the video, these timestamps will synchronize the text with the audio. Hence, making it easier for a reader to track the text to the corresponding video on the screen. Accurate addition of punctuation marks in the transcripts is another important component.

Main Types of Transcription

There are multiple types of transcription, and we have explained the important ones for you.

Verbatim Transcription

This type of transcription is the most accurate representation of the written words. It contains all the fillers, stops, non-verbal expressions, and even the hesitation words like umm, hmm, etc. You must have seen transcripts that contain sounds like someone is sneezing or coughing in the video, the transcript contains words “(sneezing)”, “(shrieking)” etc. It gives the reader a better understanding of the video. Also, there are some videos that demand a verbatim transcript, for instance, legal interviews or market research videos.

Non-Verbatim Transcription

It focuses on conveying only the important information. The emotional content of the videos is not part of non-verbatim transcription. This type of transcript is more clear and concise and explains only the main part of the video. Hence, saving the time of the reader. For example, educational or product demonstration videos.

Intelligent Transcription

Just like non-verbatim transcription, intelligent transcription also focuses on providing the true intent of the spoken words in the text by omitting unnecessary elements. It omits a majority of filler words and adds only the ones that are directly related to the intent of the message. You will not find unnecessary words like non-verbal expressions in an intelligent transcript. Transcripts of e-learning modules and workshop videos fall under the category of this type of transcription.

Edited Transcription

The name suggests what this one means. Changes are made deliberately in transcripts to enhance their readability score. It helps the audience to get a better grasp of the content in case they miss any point from the video. Transcripts of tutorial videos and podcasts are the most valid and accurate examples of edited transcription.

The omission of grammatical errors and filler words is a necessary part of this type of transcription. Slangs and unnecessary words are also not included in this transcription.

Differences between Transcription and Translation?

As translation and transcription are both taken in the context of language, they are often related and compared with each other. The fact that they both aid in the easy understanding of the target audience is one thing that links them together. If you want to transcribe any audio or video content in the same language, what you need is transcription. For example, you can transcribe as well as translate an audiobook but you can only translate a novel as it is already in the text format.

With the following table, it will become easier for you to understand the difference between the two.

Translation Transcription  
Conversion of words from one language to another. Conversion of speech into text format.
The multilingual aspect of language is involved. The language remains the same.
Input content can be a video or text. Input content is only a video or audio
Output material is in the form of a document. Same as translation.
Proficiency in both target and source languages is necessary. Proficiency in the same language is important.
Translators try very hard to keep the intent of the message the same in translation solutions. According to the type of the video, the transcription is altered e.g., edited transcriptions omit the filler and hesitation words.
Technological interventions are quite common in translation, such as machine translation. Despite technological interventions like the use of software, human intervention is very important in transcription.
The use of industry-specific terminologies is very important in translation. Listening skills are considered more important for transcription.

Transcription vs. Translation: What Do You Need for Your Business?

In the language industry, you will hear all about translation, transcription, localization, transcreation, and so many other terms. As in this article, we are talking about translation and transcription, so let's see what you need, the former or the latter. If you need conversion of text from one language to another, you should look for a translation service. And if you need text format for your audiovisual content, transcription is your destination. You need to align your goals and then think of the strategy that suits you the best.

For global businesses, translation and transcription both hold special and equal importance. Both of these elements help them to enhance their reach in the global market. With the help of translation, you can tap into different markets but accurately translate your online content. Transcription of your videos will allow the audience the freedom of either reading or listening to what you sell. This choice is another factor of attraction towards your brand.

Challenges of Translation and Transcription

Both the translation and transcription processes have some challenges. Here are some of the common ones:


One of the challenges of translation is its accuracy. Translation deals with keeping the original intent of the message in translation solutions. Often people don't like the concept of translation at all, because in their opinion, translations are never faithful to the source language. Critics often comment that no matter how hard you try to maintain the intent of the message in the target language, there is always some change. In some contexts it is true, but if we focus on the cultural factors, this goal is achievable.

Translation of Idioms & Expressions

The translation of idioms and expressions is also a challenging task. In machine translation, the translation of idioms is considered an unsolvable problem. It is the word of many linguists, and it is one of the most difficult parts of translation.

Accents & Dialects

In the case of transcription, accents and often dialects cause difficulty for transcribers. To minimize this problem, it is necessary to have mastery of the language and its important dialects so that accuracy won't be a problem in transcriptions. Sometimes more than one speaker is involved in conversation in a video. In this case, misinterpretations are quite common, and they can overall reduce the quality of transcription.

Identification of Speakers

In the case of a man’s and a woman’s voice, it is easy to distinguish. A man’s voice is heavier and stronger than a woman’s soft voice. But if there are multiple voices, it becomes difficult to identify who is who. It is then a transcriber’s job to identify their accents and mention them at the start of the document for the easy understanding of the target audience.

Final Words!

To sum up, translation and transcription are poles apart from each other. Each of them has its own special characteristics as well as areas of specialization that make them distinct. At Mars Translation, we deal with both translation and transcription services. Our skilled translators and transcribers have years of experience working in the field, which makes us a valid company in the global market. We have native and professional translators that pay attention to your translation and transcription needs. We help you cater to multilingual global audiences and get your business the recognition it needs and deserves.