It's often mentioned that translation is a complex process, with many terms relating to the job that are interlinked and others, like translation and transcription, which for some may be similar, but in reality have some differences. In language services, these two are both translation processes. Translation and transcription are likewise processes that are used in the field of science.
Definition of Translation and Transcription
To better understand the two terms, it's best to state the definition of each.
Transcription involves listening to an audio file and putting down what was said in writing. The listener directly writes the content of the audio file word for word in the same language used by the speaker. Speakers of the original language, for example, German, would be able to immediately read the transcribed content of the recording. Transcribe came from the Latin verb transcribere, which is a compound word consisting of trans or over and scribere or write.
Translation is the process of transforming written content in one language, like French, and translating it into a different language, such as English. It came from the Old French verb, translater and the Latin verb translates, meaning carried over.
If a client only wants a transcription of the audio file, the transcriber will transform the recording into a written format, so the document is in the same language as the audio file.
When a client submits an audio file for translation, it will first be transcribed so it would be available in a written format before it can be translated into a new language.
In both these processes, hire a professional linguist to ensure the quality and accuracy of the work.
Differences between transcription and translation
Transcription and translation are language services provided by several professional translation companies. Although they seem similar, they are not the same. The phases involved in each process are what make the differences.
The need for transcription services applies to many occasions. It can be used to provide written transcripts of consultations, lectures, interviews and conferences. Transcription serves a variety of sectors such as politics, media, business, medical, education and civil service.
Let us discuss transcription first. We have already established that transcription represents a language in written form. Here are some of its processes and applications, which show why transcription is different from translation.
- The sources of the language may be sign language or speech. Aside from verbal sources, other forms include an existing content prepared in a different writing system.
- In linguistics (academic), transcription is a vital component of a system of methods of sociolinguistics, dialectology, conversation analysis and phonetics. In various subdivisions of speech technology, transcription plays an essential part.
- Outside of the academic field, transcriptions are the written record of what takes place during a court hearing, for example, a criminal trial. In the legal industry, transcription is very common, especially in witness statements that are typically recorded. The recordings are transcribed into the written format before they are submitted as evidence in court.
- Another example is medical transcription, where the recorded voice notes of a physician are transcribed to provide a written copy of a patient's medical care history, the prescriptions given and notice of allergies. The written medical records are included in the patient's records. This practice facilitates the delivery of healthcare to a patient no matter the location or geographical distance.
- Transcription is also applied to advertising campaigns of products shown in foreign markets. The transcription of the video and audio campaign materials helps to ensure that the promotional messages remain consistent.
- It takes longer to process transcription. Once the file is received by the translation company, the project manager will check it to determine in which category it falls under. The process helps the project manager choose the right subject matter expert to handle the transcription, whether it is finance, legal or medical. The assigned translator will listen to or watch the recording and make a written copy of the script. Translation may take place later if the client needs it.
- A transcriber only works with one language thus competency in that language is essential.
- Because a transcriptionist (transcriber) only cares about the information, knowledge of colloquial expressions is not essential.
- Transcription handles two different formats, from recorded to written.
Let's focus now on translation and its differences with transcription. Both transcription and translation involve working with languages. Both require the services of a linguist who is proficient in languages.
- Unlike transcription, translation only deals with one language. Translation requires handling two languages – the source language and the target language.
- Often, the translator deals with written content, although there are times when clients only have audio or video recording of the source materials. In this case, the media file has to be transcribed first before it can be translated.
- The translator has to be highly skilled in creative writing to accurately deliver the intended message of the source document.
- Due to globalization and multiculturalism, translation is very essential in facilitating mutual understanding and better communication among people speaking different languages. The availability of translated content increases its accessibility, thereby increasing the content's reach, potentially. From a legal point of view, delivering content in different languages shows acceptance of diversity.
- Translation deals with one type of format – written content.
- Translation handles two main categories, literary and non-literary. As the name implies, literary translation involves the translation of literature such as poems, stories and novels. Non-literary translation translates legal, scientific, technical and other specific documents.
- The translator must be very proficient in the target language, so it is vital to work only with translators who are native speakers. The translator also has to have a deep understanding of the culture of the target language as well as its nuances, grammatical differences, idioms, slang and idiomatic expressions.
These are the main differences between transcription and translation. But similarities between the two processes also exist.
Similarities between translation and transcription
While transcription deals with the same language as the original source. and translation works with the original language (source) and another language (target), both are processes that facilitate understanding of the information.
Here are more similarities:
- In terms of business, both of the processes have the potential to bring an increase in monetary benefits to the translation company on a global scale. The application of the two processes in modern life cannot be discounted. Various market research, focus group discussions, depositions and court hearings, interviews, academic lectures, industry conferences and symposia happen around the world, where local and international audiences participate. Transcriptions and translations of these events are anticipated by concerned individuals and groups.
- Both are useful for online resources as well. Podcast transcripts are beneficial for the hearing impaired. Translations provide subtitles for foreign video materials so more people can understand and enjoy what they are viewing. Translators can also translate the transcription to reach more audiences worldwide. In this sense, transcription and translation work together.
It is essential not to confuse transcription with translation. As you can see here, transcription only documents something that is available in a recorded format into a written document. It is the exact copy of what is in the recording and it is rendered in the same language as the original.
Translation, on the other hand, converts written text from the original language into a new foreign language, such as English into Chinese. As required by the job, the translator has to be proficient in at least two languages.
Translation means to re-create content into another, carrying its meaning into the other language. Transcription is verbatim replication of spoken text. On the other hand, translation comes in many forms, be it word for word, verbatim or literal. These types of translation are meant to capture most of the phrasing of the content.
In free or loose translation, the objective is to convey the meaning of the content in a way that would be easier for the target readers to understand.
And get this – the two terms are used in biology as well. It is connected with DNA and its functions. Transcription changes the mode of information within the DNA. Transcription directs the formation of messenger RNA (mRNA). The DNA takes the information from the mRNA and copies it into a separate medium within the cell.
The mRNA moves to the ribosome that creates cell proteins. Using the information provided by the DNA, the mRNA bonds with the ribosome to create proteins that match the different parts of the new mRNA strand. This process is called translation.
In language services, transcription and translation can work together. For example, a movie is only available in a foreign language. To reach more audiences, the film's audio needs transcription. The text in the foreign language can be used as a guide for subtitling. Likewise, the transcription can be translated in all the target languages, to be used as script guide for dubbing and subtitling.
We help provide effective communication through transcription and translation
Transcription and translation both require massive work. But the result provides a better delivery and effective communication of ideas and information.
Day Translations, Inc. is a professional translation company with a full suite of language services to offer a variety of clients, from individuals to institutions to large business enterprises. Our workflow process includes all the phases that translation work requires, including transcription. You can depend on the professional and experienced translators of Day Translations. All of them are native speakers and reside in-country so they understand the cultural nuances and the preferences of different target audiences. Many of them are subject matter experts, to provide you with the most accurate translation befitting your specific field.
We understand the importance of meeting deadlines, which is why we always aim to submit translation projects on or before the deadline, without compromising its quality. For all your translation and interpreting requirements, call us at 1-800-969-6853 or send us an email at Contact us. We are open 24/7, 365 days of the year to cater to your language services needs anytime, wherever you are.
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