Difference Between Translation and Transliteration

By: Shahzad Bashir Posted on Thu, 13-10-2022

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We all know what translation is. Typically, it is the swapping of words from one language to another. The objective of translation is to provide the information in another language so that people that are monolog can understand. 

Have you ever thought about what transliteration is about?

Transliteration is the process of converting one script to another. It involves the use of alphabets that are phonetically matching to different types of alphabets. The transliteration process is faster than the translation.

Do you want to know why?

Because you don’t need to convert the language from one script to another. Thus, it is faster to transliterate than translate. The transliteration simply converts each word so the translator doesn’t have to take into consideration word order, sentence composition, and structure.

Translation and transliteration are a part of effective content writing. This content is used in various digital platforms and business documentation.

It all depends on what you need to communicate. Sometimes, you need a translation service and on another day you might go for transliteration services.

Uses of Translation and Transliteration

Transliteration can be used for any language pairing that uses different alphabets. For instance, it can be used for Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. Moreover, you can use Hindi Devanagari characters and Kanji characters that are different from the alphabet used in the source language. 

Transliteration can work best with any of these scripts in the documents that can help the target audience to pronounce the words. It acts as a reliable communication tool among the parties that use different scripts.

According to the Ethnologue, there are around 7139 living languages. Out of these languages, 4065 languages have a developed writing system. Thus, the value of transliteration becomes easy because many of the 4065 languages use the same writing system.

The decision of whether you want to go for translation or transliteration depends upon the purpose of the document. If the focus is on pronunciation, then transliteration is the best option to opt for. On the other hand, if the meaning of the text is more important then people opt for translation instead of transliteration.

If anyone wants to learn a foreign language with a different alphabet and writing system then they must take the assistance of transliteration. It is very beneficial for new learners that are toiling hard in improving their pronunciation

Machine Translation and Transliteration

For completing the transliteration project, you will require the same tools as you used in a translation project. Many translation software can produce both translation and transliteration. For example, any glossary creation can also provide information on how to pronounce the words.

Machine translation is the best option if you want to transliterate, as well as translation services. Machine software has different translation features that impact the quality of the results and work they produce.

Some machine software provides transliteration along with translation. For instance, if you use Google translate then they will provide pronunciation along with translation.

Use of Transliteration Regarding Company Names 

One of the most important uses of transliteration is regarding the use of company names. Translation of the company’s name is a very difficult task. The translation of company names depends upon the company’s business plan and preferences.

If you are planning to do business in a foreign country then you must use transliteration services to use the company’s name in the meetings. This shows how professional you are in your business dealings. 

In the translation process, the meaning of the original text remains the same. On the contrary in the transliteration services, there is a probability that the original contract will not remain the same.

Is Transliteration Standardized?

Transliteration services are not standardized. If you are the lover of Dostoyevsky, a Russian novelist who has written about human suffering with humor and psychological insights and you don’t know the Russian language then you will probably find ways to write Russian names in English.

This is because different ways of Romanisation have changed Russian Cyrillic over the years. If there is no exact match found in the Latin alphabet then different alphabets are used. People can also pronounce and spell Dostoevsky as Dostoevski. 

There is no issue with using different spellings as the transliterator's main focus is on pronunciation. One important thing to note is that you cannot use different spelling if you have to search for something on the database. 

You can use transliteration services if you don’t want to change the word. Moreover, you don’t require explanation and interpretation.

No doubt, that translation, and transliteration are related to the conversion of one language to another. However, they follow entirely different practices. If you want to deliver the document in another language without any grammatical issues then the translation is a viable option for you.

With the help of professional translation services, you can connect globally with business stakeholders. Although translation takes more time than transliteration, it can communicate your message flawlessly to the target market.

For transliteration services, you don’t want to invest more time and money. Thus, you can hire a professional translation agency that can provide transliteration with a fast turnaround time and economical rates. The demand for transliteration services is less than for translation services.

Don’t confuse transliteration with phonetic transcription. It is the method of writing words by using a phonetic alphabet to support pronunciation. You will see phonetic transcription in the English dictionary that helps English speakers to pronounce properly.

Wrapping Up

Translation and transliteration are both used in mitigating communication barriers. If you want to expand business operations outside the borders then you must know the difference between both services, so that you can choose the service according to the unique needs of the project.

For impeccable translation and transliteration get in touch with Mars Translation. Services at Mars translation are designed to cater to all cross-cultural communication needs that are vital for your personal and professional growth.