Transcription vs. transliteration – what’s the difference? How to work on transcription conveniently?

Translation can vary: sometimes you receive a text that you simply have to translate into another language, other times you receive a recording (either sound or video). The fact that you have to deliver this translation in the form of written text does not make the task easier. Manually rewriting what you listen to is very time consuming. How to prepare a transcription in a convenient way? How is transcription any different from transliteration?


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Transcription and transliteration – how do they vary?

The question is when will you actually deal with transcription and when with transliteration? From the point of view of the final result, these two activities vary significantly. Transcription is primarily a reflection of the pronunciation of a language and is more “user-friendly”. Transliteration, on the other hand, is a strictly scientific method and according to its assumptions, each letter in a foreign language has an equivalent in every other language.

These relationships can be easier to understand with the example of Cyrillic transcription and transliteration. Let’s take the letter “Л”. If the transcription is always intended to reflect the pronunciation and notation of sounds, then depending on the sentence, this letter can be written as “L” or “W” in English. In the case of transliteration, however, there are more restrictive rules and, according to the assumptions, the letter “Л” should always be transliterated as “L”, regardless of the actual pronunciation.

The colloquial meaning of transcription

In everyday language, transcription is often referred to as the activity of transcribing audio recordings. For example, these can be scripts based on an interview or a radio broadcast. Usually, the above is associated with a very time-consuming occupation, especially if you are not predisposed to dictation.

How to work on transcription conveniently?

The dynamic development of technology, including speech recognition systems, significantly facilitates the commonly understood phenomena of transcription. From the point of view of a person who has to transfer audio content to written text, the use of this type of modern solution is a huge time saving. It will also allow you to significantly increase the efficiency of your work. There are at least several ways to prepare transcription quickly and conveniently.

Software for transferring audio streams between applications

One of the most convenient methods is to use software to transfer audio streams between applications along with the voice typing feature in Google Docs. The great advantage of this solution is the virtually unlimited number of languages ​​that can be used for the transcription. This is due to the fact that the mentioned voice typing feature supports nearly all languages used in the world.

How to prepare transcription in the above way? The first step you need to take is download software for transferring audio streaming between applications, such as VB-Audio Virtual Cable. After its installation, a new driver will appear in the sound control panel: CABLE Input (VB-Audio Virtual Cable). If you wish to work on transpiration, pick audio support for this driver.

Now you can open Google Docs (or any other text editor with supporting voice typing), select “Tools” and “Voice Typing”. Then, you just need to choose the language your audio track was recorded in, click “Click to speak” and play the audio file in any player. You’re all set! The content of the recording will be written down in your document.

Descript – a transcription software

The above solution, however, has many disadvantages and it is not always able to recognize every word heard in the recording. Descript is significantly more effective and, as stated by its originators, automatic transcriptions carried out with this tool are supported by artificial intelligence. However, it has a huge disadvantage: Descript can only deal with English audio recordings. Unfortunately, it does not feature the option to recognise speech in other languages.

At this point, it is worth mentioning that Descript offers a lot more use than just automatic transcription. Its creators also equipped it with many other useful features, such as editing video files, recording and publishing podcasts or sharing your own projects with other Descript users. Furthermore, the basic features are available in the free option. Access to other features is premium and fees apply.

How do I work on transcription using Descript?

Transcription itself using Descript is extremely easy. The first thing you need to do is register your account at www.descript.com. After activation, there are two ways to use this tool: either online by logging in to the above website or offline by downloading the application to your computer. The software interface in both cases looks the same.

After logging into Descript, you need to create a new project. To do this, click on “+ New Project” (No. 1. on the screenshot). A lightbox window will appear, where you can name your project and assign it to the appropriate folder on your virtual drive. Additionally, you can define who has access to this particular project. This is especially useful when you work in a team and share your drive with different users. After specifying all parameters, click “Create”.

Once you have created your project, go to the file upload window. You can do this in several ways: either by dragging a file from disk, clicking “Choose a file …” or selecting an audio track location on your disk. Once the file is properly uploaded, its name will appear on the list of available files on the main view on the right-hand side. Move your mouse over the file name, expand the arrow and select “Transcribe file”.

A box will appear in the panel on the left-hand side with the transcription parameters. If there is more than one speaker on the recording, check the “Detect multiple speakers” option (No. 1. on the screenshot). This is where you will also find a drop-down list, after expanding it you will see different types of transcriptions: Automatic, White Glove, and also Import Transcript. The first option is the default automatic transcription, which you can do once a month with the free plan. White Glove, on the other hand, is a professional solution offered by Descript where automatic transcription is checked by humans. Import Transcript is for you if you already have a transcript and only want to edit it.

How to prepare transcription for translation?

Regardless of which method of automated transcription you choose, its result will be content of the recording written down as text. However, this is not the end of working with the text, especially when you are thinking about ordering a service of transcription translation. You have to remember that although automation has its advantages, despite more and more advanced technologies, the recording may still not be written down exactly as the speakers intended it to sound like. Your role is to make sure that the transcription actually matches what can be heard in the recording. There will be slightly more work if you want to prepare an actual article for your blog or website based on such a transcription. In such a case, your additional task will be to properly format the document, add headers to it, introduce the necessary adjustment to the text and perform other activities that will make the transcription become an article that is attractive to the reader.

Transcription and transliteration – what should you keep in mind?

It is worth bearing in mind that transcription and transliteration, although similar, actually mean two different activities. Transcription is simpler and involves writing down the recording as text, to reflect the way the sounds are pronounced. However, it is commonly understood as simply writing down the content of the recording. Transliteration on the other hand, is based on a scientific method supported by a coding system in which each letter has its equivalent in any other language. Thus, while transcription makes it easier to pronounce foreign words, transliteration makes it possible to read sentences written in a foreign alphabet in general.


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