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What is Transcription, and What is its Place in the Translation Process?

planningAt Trusted Translations we offer a wide range of services that act as a turnkey for our customers to effectively with audiences all around the globe. Many of our core service offerings are regularly discussed here in our blog, but the truth is there are many other supporting services also worthy of some attention.  As an account manager, one thing I oftentimes notice when listening to customers discuss an upcoming project is that no matter the project type, always takes center stage. In theory this makes total sense—I mean, after all translation is at the core of our business and even part of our company name.  The reality is, however, that without the proper guidance customers may find themselves focusing too much on the translation component while forgetting to consider other supporting services that may be just as necessary as the actual translation itself. One of these seldom front-of-mind services is transcription, which depending on the project, could be necessary before the translation process can even begin.

Over the last 20 years, the standard has evolved from humans translating manually to translating almost entirely with the aid of computer programs.  Within these computerized workbench environments, text is extracted from a file and imported directly, allowing translators to reach greater levels of both efficiency and quality.  As a result, the very first step of the translation process always starts with obtaining a digital file that is compatible with the translation environment software.  Whenever text cannot be properly extracted due to the file’s being either incompatible (or non-existent), one has to be created from scratch by manually transcribing the source into a usable file format. Many times we see this when we receive documents that have either been handwritten (letters, questionnaires, forms) and/or have been scanned, and most clearly in the case of subtitling or dubbing requests, when there is no physical transcript present of what is being said on-screen.

If there’s any insider advice I can provide with regards to transcription, it would be to plan ahead! Although there are times when transcription will be an absolute necessity, sometimes with the right amount of planning on your end, there are things you can do to help eliminate the need for additional services. A thrifty tip for cutting down costs and achieving a faster would be to take care of any file prep you can do yourself beforehand. For example, instead of sending a scan of a handwritten letter or memo, take a couple minutes to type it up in an MS Word document before sending it over for quoting.  Another great example would be for post- services like dubbing and subtitling of a video. For projects like these, transcription serves as the gateway to subsequent services like translation and eventually subtitling/dubbing. For this reason putting together a transcript is always the first order of business. So stretch your translation budget further by opting to put the transcript together on your end and in turn, you’ll be reducing the amount of work needed on ours! At any rate, rest assured that whether you find yourself able to handle some of these things on your end or not, Trusted Translations is here for every step of the way, ready and able to assist you with your every translation need.