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January 31, 2022By legaltranslationsTranslations Tips

How Important to Transcription and Translation is Proofreading?

What’s the difference between transcription and translation?

Translation and transcription sound similar, but in fact, are quite different. The translation is the conversion of text from one language into another language, e.g. French to English or Arabic to Russian. The translation is performed by a translator who is fluent in at least the two languages needing to be translated but is also competent in the field of translation that he/she is offering. 

Transcription, on the other hand, is the conversion of an audio recording into text. It is not necessarily a conversion of one language into another language, which is the extra job of a translator. Most transcription, therefore, is carried out by someone who doesn’t necessarily know any other language other than the one they practice transcription in.


    One of the few similarities or things that both translation and transcription have in common is that the completed text in both cases needs to be carefully proofread. In most cases, the translator or transcriber is the one who carries out the proofreading after doing the translation or transcription, but an extra layer of perfection may be added on by using another proofreader altogether or proofreading more than once.

    Proofreading in transcription and proofreading in translation, while both important and necessary, are uniquely different from each other.

    Why is proofreading so important in translation?

    Proofreading is the careful checking of a translated chunk of text for errors in punctuation, vocabulary, grammar, and (in the printed form) typographical errors. Proofreading of translated text may be easy or difficult, depending on the nature of the text that needs to be translated. Proofreading is technically not the same as editing, which is the judicious alteration of the original text so that it makes better sense. In most cases, translators offer editing as well as proofreading services together with the actual translation and will charge accordingly. It would be expected that translators ensure that whatever they translate should also be proofread, and this will be the standard charge (often by the word) they quote. However, editing may also be requested if the text is particularly complex or challenging to convey the meaning of. The editing may be done before translation or afterward, but will be completed before proofreading.

    The luxury that translators have which transcribers do not necessarily have is that the text they have in front of them for translation can be consulted at leisure. There should be no mistakes involved in reading the text, although this doesn’t mean that the text is perfect. Clients cannot blame a translator if they haven’t ensured that the text they have presented for translation hasn’t already been checked for consistency and sense first.

    Why is proofreading so important in transcription?

    Transcription is in itself more challenging than translation as it requires following what someone has dictated into a microphone or recorded at what can be an imperfect recording environment. Unusual accents or dialects and background noise as well as imperfections in the recording equipment can make the job of a transcriber more challenging. Rarely does the transcriber have the opportunity to check what the person actually said while the recording was done? This means that proofreading is even more important for transcription as it requires more than just checking spelling, punctuation, etc. as it does for translation. Usually, the transcriber types as much as possible of what is thought to have been said then look back at what has been typed out often, again and again, to make sure that it represents the best copy of the recording. As with translation, the object of proofreading is not to change the meaning of what was said, but to be as accurate as possible in converting the audio version into text.


    Accuracy is an essential ingredient of translating or transcribing legal documents, hence proofreading is a standard and important element in any service offered by a translation or transcription agency.

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