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Translation vs Transcription: What’s the Difference?

When you think about these two words “translation” and “transcription”, they may sound similar but they have very different meanings for translation companies.

While their definitions show some similarity, they cannot happen at the same time. For example, if you are looking for video translation or a song translation, the transcription step comes first, to put the data into writing, then the translation service is applied to the written text. But we have seen many people who still cannot get the difference, so we will explain and give more information about these two distinct services.

When would you require transcription services?

Transcriptions are needed when you have something, not in a written format that needs to be converted into writing, such as a movie translation. Transcription can be a word-for-word, verbatim transcript, where every word such as ‘um’ or ‘ah’ is included. If these words are filtered, it would then be called ‘edited’ or ‘clean’ transcription.

Transcription is usually required for hearing impaired people with audio or video content. Transcripts are also useful for translating subtitles as well as for legal, technical and many other situations.

What about translation services?

When somebody is requiring audio translation, this requires a NAATI translator who is fluent in both the original and target language to review the content and into the target language. This is a very advanced skill and would require a professional interpreter if the translation is done through speech.

Translations can go wrong if the translator is not skilled enough or not accredited by NAATI. This is crucial since each language has a unique set of slang, accents, colloquialisms, and common phrases that simply cannot be translated word for word. For example, in Spanish, “En boca cerrada no entran moscas” if translated word for word means “Flies don’t enter a closed mouth”, but for a person who doesn’t know the expression, it would not make sense since in Spanish it is meant to be a way of saying “Keep your mouth shut.” Only an accredited professional translator would be able to pick out these phrases as a native language speaker which is helpful when the translation is complex or critical to avoid confusion.

What is interpretation then?

Interpretation is another distinct process which can happen in person or remotely through phone or video. Some people refer to telephone interpreting as phone translation, which is becoming very popular due to the pandemic situation. Many people require the assistance of a professional interpreter, however for safety reasons having the interpreter on the phone is much safer and convenient. Interpretation is basically about rendering a first and final translation, via speech as it deals with the spoken word. Simultaneous interpreting means interpreting at the time of the exposure, such as in important events or video conferencing.

If you are looking for a highly accredited translation, transcription or interpretation services in Sydney, contact the team at Speak Your Language today.