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Transcription vs Translation: What’s the Difference?

Matthew Patel
Matthew Patel
Posted in Zoom Sep 4 · 7 Sep, 2022
Transcription vs Translation: What’s the Difference?


Transcription refers to the process of creating written content from an audio or video recording that is identical to the original. The vernacular language, slang, idioms, and sentence structure should remain intact. All interjections, such as “alas,” “ouch,” and “phooey,” as well as repetitions and stutters, should be recorded in the transcript in the same order in which they were pronounced. 

The most significant aspect of transcription is language. Transcribers should convert the speaker’s words into written form, using the same language. Furthermore, they should take care that their transcript is well-organized and free of mistakes, with consistent spelling throughout the text. This is critical since the transcript is a replication of the recorded audio, not an interpretation.

Since online recordings frequently include nonverbal communication, transcribers are often concerned with it. They have to find a way to express the speakers’ facial and body movements as well as their emotions in written form. So many transcripts are produced to reflect the non-verbal behaviors of speakers, and that’s usually the case with transcripts for legal purposes. 

When the transcriber properly inserts all of the interrupted words, colloquialisms, and nonverbal signs, you’ll get a so-called verbatim transcript. Literal transcription is another term for this technique. The emphasis is on the manner in which the speaker says something rather than the content itself. Ideally, this will reflect the actual representation as close as possible. 

The second type of transcript is an “edited” transcript. It doesn’t include interrupted words or vague statements. Transcribers would remove anything that is not directly applicable to the conversation. There would be no tolerance for any interruptions, reiterations, or interjections. In other words, it is not meant to be a verbatim copy of the speaker’s words. Rather than simply writing down everything that was said during the conversation, the emphasis is on accurately reproducing content. 

When transcribing audio or video content, you have the option of using automated tools or hiring a professional transcriber. Despite the ease, speed, and low cost of using software to reproduce a conversation, the program may miss important details and produce an inaccurate copy. On the other hand, transcribing audio and video files by hand is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. As a result, the key is to combine both options.


The translation is the act of converting a document or audio recording into a new language by replacing the original language’s text. A translator must be fluent in both a foreign language and the local dialect, as well as have a working knowledge of the subject at hand. They must be able to understand and communicate effectively using slang, phrases, and colloquialisms. A professional translator is a skilled writer who can convey the same message in a different language without losing its meaning.

Translation, as opposed to transcription, is a more nuanced concept. As a matter of fact, it’s a lot more complicated than simply translating words from one language to another. The translation is all about conveying the original meaning of an idea in a new language. The ultimate goal is to help people from different cultural backgrounds grasp the original meaning. Translators do this by altering the wording and expressions in order to make the meaning more accessible to the target audience.

The primary goal of translation is to translate written material. People often use the terms “translation” and “interpretation” interchangeably. These terms are poles apart. Interpretation focuses on the spoken word, whereas translation deals with the written word. An interpreter interprets a person’s words based on their meaning at the time they are spoken. As with translation, the goal is to convey the original meaning as accurately as possible. 

There are times, however, when translation involves dealing with something other than written text. Translators are sometimes asked to translate audio or video recordings when there is no written content. This situation requires transcription and translation. If the text is taken directly from the recording, there is a greater chance of misunderstandings. The accuracy of a translation will improve if written scripts are transcribed first. 

Literary and non-literary translations are two of the most common types of translation. When it comes to literary translation, the translator’s job is to take the original text of a poem or novel and turn it into a language that is appealing and understandable to the intended audience. Non-literary translation, on the other hand, is used to translate documents such as technical, medical, scientific, and legal in order to keep the original text’s meaning as close as possible.

Like transcription, machine-assisted translation is necessary in today’s world. While the process can be completed manually, it requires some form of automation. This can be achieved by employing computer-assisted translation technologies. Although this appears to be a good idea, computer programs are not as accurate as human translation. Human translation, on the other hand, takes too long and can exhaust translators. The ideal situation is to combine the advantages of human and computer translation.

Why Is Transcription So Important?

Transcription is a rapidly expanding industry with high demand. Many industries, including advertising, business, education, and healthcare, use it because of its many advantages. As more videos are converted into podcasts, transcription is becoming an increasingly important service. Transcribing makes audio and video content more accessible, which improves its usability. It improves Google’s searchability and YouTube videos can now be indexed

Now that we’ve examined the vast range of advantages of transcription services, let’s take a look at some of the most common uses of transcription.  

1. Legal Settings

It’s not uncommon for lawyers to make use of transcription products and services. A legal proceeding often requires the recall of individual words, sentences, and even complete discussions. When a lawyer needs to interview a witness or an expert witness, they hire a transcriber. It will come in handy when the time comes for cross-examination and hearings in court. Legal papers for journals and scholarly publications also use court transcripts. To prove illegal conduct during a conversation, tape recordings are also useful.

2. Medical Field

Interviewing patients and specialists and then transcribing their answers helps generate medical reports. Based on conversations with patients, practitioners create medical records that doctors will evaluate as necessary. Because they are recorded, interviews can be reviewed at any time. When compared to the time it would take to generate the medical view of the clinical report by hand, it would be compiled at a faster rate. Medical transcription can also be used to transcribe the audio of medical instructions.

3. Educational Institutions

Transcription can also be used to convert audio and video content to text. It is especially useful in educational settings. For example, students at the Wisconsin University report that transcribing audio to text improves their comprehension by 50%. Transcribing the material makes it more digestible and easy to remember. And this facilitates the whole process for everyone involved. Having educational materials transcribed into a foreign language is also beneficial. It helps translate content more easily, making it more accessible to students. 

4. Marketing

Video marketing is becoming more and more important for businesses. Given that video makes up nearly 70% of all consumer content on the Internet, it is no wonder that transcription services are in high demand. Today, having a video transcribed is mandatory if you want to send a powerful message. Consumers spend more time watching videos with subtitles because they can follow along more easily. It can also increase search engine rankings and conversion rates. Finally, the ability to reach an international audience through video is another benefit of using a transcript.

5. Hearing Impairment

Over 33 million Americans and 360 million people around the world are affected by hearing loss, according to the WHO. For those who have difficulty hearing, captioned videos and transcribed audio recordings are more convenient. For the growing population of elderly who suffer from hearing loss, transcription makes a huge difference. They will have a better time enjoying music and comedy if they can keep up with the text.

Why Is Translation So Important?

Translation services are becoming increasingly popular in today’s global economy. Given that only 10% of the world’s population speaks English, you may want to rethink your business and the market with which you want to communicate. With the help of translation services, it is possible to share your innovations with a global market while maintaining your competitiveness. If you want your ideas to reach a larger audience, you’ll need to use translation services. Many businesses use these services to better communicate with customers from various cultural backgrounds.

1. People Prefer to Communicate in Their Native Language

If you want to reach a global audience, it is not enough to have a well-written website and social media posts in English. It’s also worth noting that people respond better to the language they were raised in. Studies show that 75% of customers will rather make a purchase when they are spoken to in their own language.  Therefore, if you want to grow your customer base and close more deals, make sure your website, social media, or press releases are translated flawlessly.

2. Globalization

With the rise of the Internet, businesses all over the world are becoming more global. As this phenomenon gains traction, the need for effective communication grows. If you want to close business deals or reach out to new customers outside of your local area, you must be able to interact effectively with them. In addition, administration, e-commerce services, and online retailing transactions require proper and timely contact with your customers and clients. As a result, translation services for letters, agreements, and online documents are just as important as marketing efforts or other business activities.

3. The Occurrence of New Emerging Markets

In many parts of the world, rapid technological advancement is propelling economic growth and modernization. Due to their enormous development potential, “emerging markets” have attracted investors from all around the world. While big markets such as the US and Canada become saturated, new markets with tremendous resources are discovered. Simultaneously, the relevance of new emerging languages is expanding.  Some of these languages, such as Japanese and Chinese, are threatening English supremacy. As a result, the translation and localization industries have received renewed interest.

4. The Role of Translation in Spreading New Ideas

Music, movies, books, and art, in general, are the most apparent manifestations of cultural and linguistic diversity. Translators have been working to communicate ideas across cultures for ages. Their role as cultural mediators cannot be overstated. They do more than just convert words and phrases; they also help people understand different cultures and ways of thinking. With advancements in translation technology, people all over the world can now experience the power of ideas to have an impact on people’s lives. 

5. Global Shift to Online Education

In recent years, the usage of earning, mLearning, and distance learning to supplement traditional classroom institutions has soared. Every year, this new way of learning is reaching more and more people. Individual courses that are available in several languages are becoming increasingly popular as a form of education for those who cannot receive a high-quality education in their native language. Therefore, it is critical to translate digital content into multiple languages so that it may reach a wider audience.

What Is the Difference Between Transcription and Translation?

Even if transcription and translation have certain similarities, they are different techniques. While both can help you better communicate and share your message, each serves a distinct purpose. Transcription converts spoken words into text. Its goal is to preserve the wording from your recording as precisely as possible and make it available to a general audience. Translation, on the other hand, converts text from one language to another. It aims to convey the same message while maintaining its meaning. It only works in written form.

While some people mix up these two terms, it’s easy to tell the difference. Before deciding if you need transcription or translation services, consider what you want to get from your audio, video, or text file. Transcription works with audio and video files, whereas translation utilizes text. So, if you want to convert a message from your audio or video source and make it available in the same language, then you need a transcription. However, if you want to convert a message from your video into another language, you’ll need to start with transcription and then translation. 

Transcription and translation differ in one more respect. The primary focus of transcription is the written word. It captures words as they are spoken, trying to stay true to the way they are pronounced. Transcription’s main goal is to be as accurate as possible. And it doesn’t care about meaning. Translation, on the other hand, always happens in a specific cultural context. Its goal is to use words and phrases from another language to convey the same meaning. And it’s all about meaning. So, the two processes are not the same, and they don’t have the same goals. That’s critical. 

The Bottom Line

Even though transcription and translation may appear to be very similar processes, they are not. This discrepancy is critical to the interest of your target audience. Sometimes, they may benefit from transcribing the words as they were said. It’ll help them fully comprehend your message or learning material. At other times, your readers will benefit from understanding the meaning of your video or audio content.


If you are still unsure about the differences between these two services, you can always consult our team of experts to assist you in determining which one is best for you. Alternatively, if you want your message professionally transcribed or translated, you can always hire a professional. Use GoTranscript’s professional services to get impeccable transcription and translation content.