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What Is the Difference between Transcription and Translation?

Transcription VS Translation: What Is the Difference? 

While surfing the internet or perhaps in a business conversation where someone was suggesting new ideas to improve your operation, you might have come across the vague term “transcription” or “transcription services” and didn’t know what it was or how it differed from translation. 

In this blog, we will cover all there is to know about the difference between transcription and translation, and what audio transcription services and translation services are to help inform your future decisions.

What Is the Difference between Transcription and Translation

To start at the beginning, we need to lay the ground by defining both concepts in terms of the language domain. 


Simply put, transcription is the process of turning any audio or spoken language into written text. The converted content could be an audio recording (podcasts, radio broadcasts, etc…) or it could be a video (TV shows, webinars, etc…). 


Translation could be a collective term that covers a wide range of language-related concepts, but basically, it is the conversion of information from one language (source language) to another (target language). 

This information could be written or it could be spoken and in that latter case, we would ideally refer to it as interpretation. 

Beyond their definitions, several other characteristics make the difference between translation and transcription more fleshed out. Here are some: 

  • The Medium: 

The difference between translation and transcription in this regard can already be inferred from the definition, but a quick reminder won’t hurt. 

As previously explained, transcription captures and represents spoken language in a written form.

On the other hand, translation in its most basic form is all about written language, whether source language or target language.  

  • Timing:

It is more common for transcription to occur in real-time or near-real-time as a transcriber needs to listen to speech and write down everything (or almost everything) as it is exactly said without changes. 

As for translation, it could happen at any time. As long as you have the written material, it doesn’t matter when or how a translator can work on it. 

  • Tools and Techniques: 

In this department, there isn’t really much difference between transcription and translation as both can be performed either manually by humans or automatically by software tools. 

However, transcription speech recognition technology has shown significant strides in capturing speech with high accuracy.

Translation tools, on the other hand, are still a millennium away from providing the same translation quality as human translators. 

  • Challenges:

Transcribers need to be extremely alert and capable of adapting to background noises, while also possessing the knowledge to discern accents, dialects, and language variations. 

The challenges posed by translation include preserving the meaning, tone, cultural nuances, and overall context of the original text. 

What Is the Importance of Both for Business?

The most important factor that both share in common is that they provide better accessibility, understanding, and control over content for the consumer. 

However, the difference between transcription and translation also shows in their several uses. In the following, we will tackle only a few of the many benefits each one provides.  

Let’s start with transcription first: 

  • Content Repurposing: Transcription is a great tool for content repurposing, especially if you are a content creator, a digital marketer, or someone who can leverage this aspect in any way. It helps you reuse such valuable material across multiple channels and platforms.
  • Content Translation: Every translation process requires a written text, right? Transcripts work as a great resource for translation projects, enabling you to deliver your content to a wider range of audiences, only in the right language.  
  • Time Efficiency: Transcribed content is much easier to scan and reference without having to listen to an entire audio recording to verify whether a piece of information is right or wrong.  
  • Cost Efficiency: By repurposing your content and meeting translators halfway so they won’t struggle with listening and transcribing content before translating, for example, you should expect reduced costs and increased revenues for your business, no doubt. 

Moving on to translation; why should you care about it? 

  • Global Market Expansion: To reach international markets, you need to understand and speak to your audience directly in their language. Translation facilitates communication with your customers, partners, and shareholders, leading to increased market presence and business opportunities. 
  • Cultural Resonance: Relating to your audience’s habits, traditions, and beliefs is the shortest way to their hearts, which, of course, is self-explanatory why it is good for any business. It shows loyalty and respect to your audience which in return gains you theirs. 
  • Brand Consistency: Opting for translation preserves your brand’s identity across languages and markets and guarantees that your message, values, and tone are accurately captured, delivered, and better received. 
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Translating your content ensures compliance with legal authorities and country-specific regulations, which mitigates the risks of facing complications in your border-crossing operation. 

The Different Types of Transcription and Translation

Like everything else, transcription and translation have evolved over time to boast several types, catering to situation-specific needs. 

Types of Transcription

Transcriptions can exist in the following types: 

  • Verbatim (Literal) Transcription: As the name indicates, it focuses on transforming auditory content word for word into written format. 
  • Edited Transcription: Sometimes, not all information in a recording is relevant to the consumer’s need. Edited transcriptions filter all unnecessary details (such as hesitations and false starts), offering polished written material. 
  • Time-Stamped Transcription: This type can come in handy in legal settings or medical conferences, for instance, as they provide quick references by time-stamping certain points of the content. 

Types of Translation 

The various types of translation include: 

  • Text Translations: This is the most basic type, where translators work with documents and written texts, conveying the message between languages. 
  • Audiovisual Translations (Subtitles): Audiovisual translations are the product of modern technology. This type shares a similar quality with transcription as it is concerned with auditory and visual (audiovisual) material, translating its content from a source to a target language. 
  • Localization: While localization is its own thing, it still falls under the umbrella of translation in some capacity. The distinctive quality of localization is that it adapts content to the specific linguistic, cultural, and regional preferences of the target audience. 

There are several other types of transcription and translation, but these are the most common and the most required. 

What Is a Transcription Service and a Translation Service? 

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the difference between transcription and translation, you are ready to dive a little deeper and learn about transcription services (or audio transcription services) and translation services. 

Transcription services and translation services are professional services provided by expert providers like Europe Localize. 

They primarily aim to help global organizations and individuals accomplish a certain goal in exchange for a reasonable price. 

Transcriptions are commonly performed by professional individuals known as transcribers who possess the know-how of the craft. 

Translations, on the other hand, are generally carried out by traditional translators who have a different set of skills to deal with challenges designated to this medium. 

Which Industry Is Better Suited for Those Services? 

Every industry is welcome to use those services. 

Whether audio transcription services or translation services, they are both available in various types and can be easily customized to meet industry-specific requirements. 

Academic mediums and academic researchers, for instance, can benefit immensely from academic transcription services

Academic transcription services are specifically designed to serve your needs in terms of converting auditory content from interviews, focus group sessions, lectures, or recorded observations to written texts. 

This service helps increase researchers’ productivity in qualitative research, enhancing their data analyses in academic studies. 

Audio transcription services are also of great importance in the legal, medical, financial, engineering, and entertainment industries, just to name a few, since they all require written texts one way or another. 

Who Provides a Better Quality in Those Services: Humans or Machines? 

The modern world is all about automation to cope with increasing day-to-day demands. 

From this viewpoint alone, many would resort to automated transcription services or translation services to accelerate results. However, speed doesn’t equal quality.  

At Europe Localize, our philosophy has always been to combine the best of both worlds and maximize the benefits. Why use just one or the other when you can use both? 

While automated audio transcription services and translation services indeed check the box where speed is most important, they still come with their fair share of unavoidable errors. 

If we look at transcription, for example, one of the challenges we mentioned earlier was the background noises. These noises can affect the machine’s ability to correctly capture the speech, which, as a result, reduces the accuracy. 

To compensate for this error, we draw on human transcribers’ capabilities to detect and fix such errors to reach pinpoint precision. 

In translation, it is much more complicated than that. As you already know, translation deals with concepts that go beyond the surface level. 

A certain word in one language can hold a world of meanings and consequently requires a meticulous approach to find its match in another language.

It takes a huge effort to train a machine to memorize and understand each word’s meaning separately or in correlation with the context it exists in. 

Even with Neural Machine Translation (NMT) being an advanced form of machine translation, machines are still highly prone to inaccuracy, since words gain new meanings every day, what with global cultural growth and social media influence. 

This is why a human translator is indispensable in any translation process as they monitor and manage the translation process better than any machine.  

By following this criterion, one ensures both speed and quality for any transcription service or translation service. 

To sum up, the differences between transcription and translation can fill volumes. With one mainly focused on preserving speech in text format and the other being concerned with the delivery of information from one language to another, they both prove very significant in the realm of global business, no matter their type. 

Go Global with Europe Localize’s Audio Transcription Services and Translation Solutions 

Europe Localize is a renowned translation and transcription service provider that has been operating globally for over a decade through its agencies across 125 countries. 

We help businesses grow and reach global heights in every market, offering a diverse selection of multilingual translation and audio transcription services

Our company provides quick and cost-efficient language services, regardless of the service in demand to assist companies in increasing their return on investment. 

With more than 62K translators and subject-matter specialists among our ranks, we provide a language service that is tailor-made for all sectors. 

Whether you need academic transcription services, legal transcription services, medical translation services, financial translation services, or something else, contact Europe Localize now and request a free quote for guaranteed global success. 

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