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3 Aug 2021   Last updated 13 August 2021

Transcription vs translation in language: Uses and technology

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There are many forms of communication. It is one of the distinct features of human language. It allows speakers and listeners from different cultures and languages to communicate effectively without misinterpretation of any sort. Transcription and translation are some of the tools used in ensuring this ease of communication. However, it is quite important to know the unique differences between transcription and translation. Hence, we take a look at transcription vs translation in language: where it is used, how it is used, and when both can be combined for effective communication. Let’s get down right to it.

Transcription vs Translation in Language

What is transcription?

Man reading papers in front of the laptop

Transcription is the process of converting audio or video content to a written format of the same language. Transcription deals with two forms of language; the spoken or recorded voices and the written form. However, it deals mainly with just one language. The goal is to supply the voice notes in text. Transcription also deals with non-verbal language forms. This includes sign language. What’s more? Language forms like gestures, emotions, feelings can also be transcribed. This depends totally on the preference of the owner of the transcript file. Transcription produces the most accurate results when the conversion is by a native speaker of the language.

What is translation?

Dictionaries from various languages together

The translation is quite different but could be easily confused with transcription. Translation also involves the conversion from one language to another. However, it only deals with text. A good translator should be able to understand the differences that exist in both languages. He should have a detailed knowledge of the original language and the target language. A translator is better suited to the process if he or she is a native speaker of the original language. More information about transcription can be found in our other article.

Similarities between transcription and translation

Though they are different and used for various purposes, some similarities exist between them:

  • The two are ways of converting one form or type of language to the other.
  • Both aim to breach the gap that exists in communication.
  • They are used to widen the range and spread of research contents, either written or spoken.

The difference between transcription and translation in language

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Having described the two-mode of conversion, we take a look at the differences in transcription vs translation in language. This would help us to understand the purpose of both types of services and what they involve. Here are some basic differences between transcription and translation.

Mode of conversion

Transcription is mainly concerned with what is being said. It has little regard for the meaning and message of the recorded content. The goal is simple; convert to text, make it available to readers. It makes transcription relatively straightforward. Because this process only involves one language type, there is little need for consideration of culture. Transcription also involves nonverbal clues like sighs, gestures, emotions, and the likes.

Translation involves two or more languages. Conversion is from one language to the other. A good translator must note the differences between the languages. This is because some expression needs to be written differently if it is to maintain the original idea. Therefore, in-depth knowledge of the original language is needed. This helps if the translator understands various idioms or expressions that are unique to both languages.

Number of languages involved

Transcription deals with one language. Audio or video content is converted from one form of a language to another form of the same language. An example is an audio interview in English. It is transcribed to text in a bid to provide the interview in written format for those who prefer it. The whole process is in English.

Translation on the other hand involves two languages. The language of the original text and the target language. One example is the translation of a text from English to Spanish. So we have two different languages involved.

Language form

Transcription deals with the conversion from one language form to the other. Spoken words, either audio or video are converted to text. It also includes a transcription from sign language to text.

Translation deals with one form of language. It is from text to text. No other form of communication is involved.

These basic differences between transcription and translation in language give both a wide range of use. People tend to ask: when is translation needed? When is transcription needed? When do combined services make sense? Let’s answer those questions.

When is transcription needed?

Now that we have discussed what the two-mode of conversion entails. It is important to answer the next question many tend to ask, “When is transcription needed?” 

Various scenarios in language and communication involve the use of transcription. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.

Hard of Hearing Issues

Transcription is used to help those that are better at understanding texts. Interviews recorded in conferences, and lecturers can be transcribed to aid those who are deaf or have hearing issues. 

Medicine

In medical practices, some diagnostic doctors might present their findings, solutions, and prescriptions in voice notes. Transcription helps to convert those recordings to text that is easily accessible by all. 

Incident report

Audio reports of an incident also need transcription services to get a written version of the event.

When is translation needed?

People attending to a concert

Translation as a language conversion tool can come in handy in various situations. Here are some examples of when translation is required.

Research works

These are prime examples of documents that require the use of translation. The research work might be needed by a researcher from another part of the world. Before he can understand the components and result of the research, there is a need to translate it to a language that he understands better.

Literature

When is translation needed in literary works? Writers of literature also enjoy the services of translators to help provide their works in different languages. This is to help attract a larger audience.

Using transcription and translation

Some might ask the question; when are both needed? Of course, there are situations where using both transcription and translation is very necessary. It however depends on what the owner of the documents or recording wants. Here are some examples of when the combined services would be fitting.

Video Subtitles

Providing subtitle files for video content in another language would require the use of both transcription and translation. The video is transcribed to produce the original message in written form. The generated text is then translated to the target language. The translated text is provided as the subtitle file for the video.

International Forums

International forums and conferences require the use of both transcription and translation. A report of the conference has to be provided in different languages. This would require transcription to text, then translation to those languages.

Interpretation

Interpretation is often confused with translation. However, there is a difference, while translation involves converting text from one language to the other, interpretation only involves the use of spoken words. They are mostly spontaneous. An example of where interpretation would be useful is during a live international conference. The language of the speaker is interpreted directly by the listener. This is to aid communication within the conference. This is known as simultaneous interpretation. Other types include consecutive interpretation and whispering.

Technology in transcription and translation services

While the use of human translators and transcribers remains important till today, technology is being used to give better quality translation with reduced error. Some machines can translate words from one language to another. 

The use of Computer Assisted Translation has advanced the role of technology in translation and transcription. It provides ease and comfort for the translator.

Using both the available technology in transcription and professional transcribers’ help, achieving the best quality translations is guaranteed.

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Transcription vs translation in language are important tools to getting your message across to a wider audience. What is needed is based on the goal and target of the content owner. The target audience also determines which or when you get to use both. Technology has also made things easier and more effective for many translators around the world. Make use of these advancements and enjoy the grand benefits.

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