Difference Between Translation, Transcription, and  Interpretation


In this era of globalization, we cannot think of doing business globally without the assistance of translation agencies. This is because we need translation and transcription and interpretation services to communicate with the people in the language that they understand. And these services are provided by professional translation agencies. Whether you need to go for translation, transcription, or interpretation, it all depends upon your linguistic requirements. Let’s dive into their differences.  


Translation means changing the source text from one language to another which is the target language. Precise and accurate translation is very important in conveying the message effectively. One of the greatest challenges faced in translation is its transparency. In the 17th century, French writer Gilles Menage said about translation that translation reminds him of women that he loved in tours. This woman was beautiful and unfaithful at the same time. According to Menage, that translation can be faithful and precise in the source language or it can be natural and beautiful but unfortunately not both. 

The problem is of significance in the translation. Sometimes, it is more or less pronounced depending on the content which is translated. For instance, if you need to translate legal content then your focus is on its accuracy even if it doesn’t sound beautiful. On the other hand, if you want to translate an anime film then you have to focus on its beauty and make sure, it sounds natural to the audience. For accuracy and seamless translation services, translators do render professional proofreading services before handing over translation projects to their clients. 


Transcription is the process of converting and altering speech or audio into a written text. It is used in converting international conferences and minutes of meetings. Moreover, it is also used for people that are deaf. Transcription is done with closed captions that are confined to the time and with a simple transcript of the audio. 

There are two main types of transcription services. One is verbatim and the other is clean-read transcriptions. Verbatim means transcribing a text word by word and clean-read is about transcription without errors and fillers like slang words.

There are many legal implications involved with transcription in the USA for deaf people. The Americans with Disabilities Act introduced anti-discrimination provisions. According to them, a pleasant experience should be provided to deaf people. Thus a simple transcription can not solve the requirements if it is done alone. 

Transcriptions can be done by professional providers or by an in-house person. In-house transcriptions can be difficult and time-consuming. Therefore, it is recommended to go for a professional provider. They use cutting-edge technology like Automatic Speech Recognition Software. This technology will start the transcription process but with too many errors. These errors can be sorted by the human transcriber. A professional transcription is a reliable option for people that are dealing with large-scale projects. 


While studying the translation and transcription process, we will find an interpretation of a different process. Translation deals with written content where as interpretation deals with spoken words and speech. 

There are different types of interpretation services, simultaneous interpreting, consecutive interpreting, and whispering and chuchotage interpretation.

Simultaneous Interpreting 

Simultaneous interpreting is a process in which interpretation is done in real-time. For example, interpretation is done at the conference. The interpreter sits in a booth and interprets what the speaker is saying on the stage. To make the process fast, interpreters also take notes. 

Consecutive Interpreting 

It is the type of interpretation that is done with breaks. Take the example of the same interpreter that is interpreting the conference. But instead of doing it simultaneously, it is done with breaks. Usually, the interpreter will sit and stand beside the person who is giving a speech. They also take notes during this type of interpretation. 

Whispering or Chuchotage 

Another form of interpretation is whispering. In the french language, it is called chuchotage. In this process, the interpreter sits next to the person that listens to what the speaker is saying and translates it for only one person. It is called whispering interpretation because the interpreter whispers the interpretation. 

Simultaneous interpretation is the most common type of interpreting and because of it, consecutive interpretation has lost its ground. The whispering interpretation is used in specific situations.  Interpreting services are used in many settings like conferences, judicial settings, and medical environments in foreign countries where communication between the healthcare and patient is required. 

Wrapping Up 

Transcription and interpretation are the families of translation services. The translation is required in written form. If you are dealing with foreign stakeholders then you need to provide them with business documentation in the target language. Here translation plays an imperative role.
In this era of digitalization, transcription is required to change audio and speech into written form.  All the international meetings that are conducted on zoom needs transcription to jot down the minutes of the speech or meeting. It is more used for the deaf community. Interpretation deals with the real-time interpretation of spoken words. In multilingual business meetings, interpretation is required so that people can understand each other’s points of view. For an extensive understanding of these important segments of communication, you must also go through different translation theories.

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