Translation vs. Transcription: What’s the Difference?

Translation vs Transcreation

Translation vs. Transcription: What’s the Difference?

While the terms “translation” and “transcription” sound a bit similar, they aren’t interchangeable. It is true that transcribing and translating do have features in common. However, the difference between the terms is also significant, referring to very different processes that don’t share the same goal.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between translation vs. transcription, here’s what you need to know.

Translation vs. Transcription: Understanding the Differences

If you want to understand the differences between transcription and translation, it’s critical to understand what each term means. That way, you can more easily see how the two stand apart.

Here is a look at the definitions of transcription and translation, as well as how the two activities differ from one another.

What Is Transcription?

Transcription refers to the act of transcribing. According to Merriam-Webster, when you transcribe, you “make a written copy.”

Transcription can involve documents and audio information. For example, making a written copy of a document, essentially creating a second copy of the written material, counts as transcription. However, so does listening to an audio file and creating a written record of what was spoken.

When a document or audio file is transcribed, the written output is usually an exact copy of what’s being shared. The resulting written record is free of embellishment, outside opinion, or other additions. Instead, it’s an accurate depiction of the original material.

Transcription is common in a variety of fields. For example, a person may take spoken notes from a doctor and transcribe them, creating a document to add to a patient file. Courtrooms also use transcribers to capture what’s shared by attorneys, witnesses, defendants, and other participants, crafting a written record that reflects what’s said during trials and hearings.

What Is Translation?

According to Merriam-Webster, translation is “a rendering from one language into another.” Essentially, it involves taking material in one language and creating a written record of the content using a different language.

Like transcription, translation can involve documents or audio information for source materials. Additionally, the output is a written record.

With translation, accuracy is also crucial. However, it’s about ensuring both the original material and the output record cover the same information and have the same contextual meaning.

Translation is also used in a wide variety of situations. For example, medical facilities often translate critical documents for patients that don’t speak English well. Manufacturers often translate manuals. Advertisers may translate ad materials to reach a multi-cultural audience, and video producers use translation services to create subtitles.

The Difference Between Translation vs. Transcription

Translation and transcription do have similarities. They both aim to ensure a high degree of accuracy, maintaining the information contained within the content to the best of their ability. Additionally, both involve written documents as outputs, giving them another point in common. However, there are some key areas where the two concepts stand apart.

The primary difference between translation and transcription is that translation involves converting material into another language, while transcription involves only the source language. Additionally, translation is often far more complex than transcription.

With translation, the translator isn’t just recording exactly what’s shared. Instead, they must take that information and determine how to express the precise sentiment using another language.

At times, this means forgoing a literal translation in favor of one that’s contextually accurate. Not all words and phrases have direct translations in other languages, so the translator needs to factor that in when converting the material. Since that requires a significant amount of critical thinking and expertise, it makes the process more challenging.

Translation vs. Transcription: Which One Do You Need?

Whether you need translation or transcription services depends on your goals. If you have written or audio material and need a written copy created using the source language, transcription is your best fit. A transcriber will record exactly what’s shared using the same language featured in the original, providing you with an accurate written record at the end of the project.

If your goal is to have written or audio material converted into another language when the new record is created, you need a translation. A translator will review the source material and craft an accurate written document of what was shared using the target language.

Do You Need Reliable Translation Services? Acutrans Is Here!

At Acutrans, we understand that having accurate translations is crucial. That’s why we use reliable, repeatable processes to ensure that every translation we handle meets the highest standards.

With our robust process, Acutrans can provide precise document translations quickly and efficiently. You get high-quality results in less time, ensuring you have the translations you need fast.

Additionally, Acutrans offers a broad selection of other language services. Along with translation, Acutrans can provide dependable interpretation services – including in-person, over the phone, and video remote options – in 200 languages.

If you need reliable, professional translation, interpretation, or other language services, the Acutrans team can provide your ideal solution. Contact us for a free quote today.