Translation vs Transliteration: Key Differences You Should Know

If you want to take your growing business to a foreign place, the first step for your growth will be adapting to the local language. There are two main services for your language needs, translation vs transliteration. 

Now do you know which suits you more?

Do you understand transliteration meaning and the purpose of translating content? 

Knowing what’s important lies in what you are looking to achieve and what type of content you are trying to convert. 

To help you decide which best serves your needs, let’s first define both transliteration and translation.

To make it brief, transliteration tells you the meaning of words in another language, whereas transliteration doesn’t tell you the meaning of any words but helps you pronounce it. 

What is Translation? 

Translation is the process of converting written content from its original language into the target language. The translated content should precisely match the context of the original content in its source Language. 

It’s essentially the process of changing the words of one language into another language with the same meanings. The main goal of translating content is to convey the meaning in a different native tongue. 

There are mainly two different ways for translating any written text, machine, and human translation. 

Machine translations are where Artificial intelligence or machine learning processes provide quick transitions. 

On the other hand, human translation services are where professional translators are employed with the task of providing accurate transitions. They usually take the help of translation memory tools, while this solution takes more time but is highly likely to produce accurate translations. 

Example of Translation

Translation, in general, basically converts languages word by word into other native languages. 

Let’s consider an example of converting a text written in English into German. If you translate “how are you” in German you get “Wie geht es dir”. 

German letters are Latin-based, therefore transliterating them may be simpler. However, only the people who speak German will understand it. 

What is Transliteration? 

Transliteration is the process of converting one written content from one script to another script. The main purpose of Transliterating is to make the text readable for mass readers. 

To break it down, most Native Americans would struggle to pronounce content written in Arabic or Hindi script.  However, When you change the letters of a word to English ones, you can read and pronounce it better, unless the words are hard for English speakers. 

That’s how transliteration helps to make foreign content more accessible for everyone. 

Most transliterated content on the internet is Automated with machine learning algorithms that are faster and cost-efficient. As with human transliterations, they are more likely to produce accurate and clear quality. 

Example of Transliteration 

 Transliteration means to make content more accessible to a large number of people. 

That said, if you translate “good morning” into modern standard Arabic, you get “صباح الخير”, this is fine with a person who is familiar with reading modern Arabic. 

But if they are unable to read Arabic, the translation almost becomes of no use. however, if you get the transliterated version you get “Subah Khair” which helps the reader with an increased chance of being able to pronounce “good morning” in Arabic. 

Still get confused? Continue to read more details about the differences of translate vs transliterate.

Differences Between Translation and Transliteration

1. Purpose

Translation and transliteration have lots of differences in the way they are used. The main purpose of translation is to convert words of an original script to a target audience to carry the meanings of words. 

Whereas Transliterations don’t tell you the meaning of any of the words or the purpose of their usage, it helps you pronounce them. Transliteration entirely emphasizes on characters that make up the word. 

2. Letters

The letters that make up the original text are changed through transliteration into similar letters for identically spelled characters in another alphabet. 

In most cases, Transliteration is used with translations to make translations easier to interpret and understand. However, if your main focus is understanding a foreign language, translation is the right service that you need. 

If you are interested in your words being more readable and easy to pronounce for people who use different scripts, then transliteration is what you need. 

3. Uses 

Now that we have closely looked at the differences between translation and Transliteration, it’s important to understand their usage. 

Transliteration can be with any language pairing where the two languages use different scripts and alphabets.

For instance, the Chinese language is transliterated into English and it is called Pinyin. However, you can also use transliteration when working between the Latin alphabet and the Cyrillic alphabet (used in Belarusian, Bulgarian, Kazakh, and elsewhere) Hindi (Devanagari script), Arabic (abjad script), and any other scripts that distinguish from the source script.


On the other hand, translation doesn’t consider any scripts when translating. Languages with the same script can be translated for converting the meaning into another language. 

Translation is used in documents to convey the meaning in different languages, whereas, Transliterations works in projects that will help the target audience pronounce the written text. 

Translation vs Transliteration: Which Do You Need?

When all is said and done, the choice between Translation and Transliteration comes down to the sole purpose of the document and your target audience. If pronunciation is your main concern, then transliterations make your choice. If you want to deliver only the meaning of the context, as opposed to pronouncing it then translation makes perfect sense. 

Additionally, you should have both services, translation, and transliteration, if your target audience speaks a language other than the source language and uses a different script. 

Translate vs Transliterate: Which Offers Better Service? 

When it comes to which of the two, translation and transliteration, offers better service it comes down to the logistics reasons in the process. 

It’s important to note that, for a professional translator, transliteration is a much faster process as it requires less accuracy. If you are working on a transliteration project, you may want to ignore grammatical errors, spelling, and writing formats to deliver easy-to-pronounce content. Also, there’s no need to convert the language into another language, which makes the process much faster

Whereas translation can be a timely process that requires high accuracy and experts in the field of linguistics to convert the meaning from the source language into the target language. 

In addition, The tools used for both of the services are the same, you will require the same tools to translate that is needed for transliteration and vice versa. Any decent translation software should easily deliver anything that has to do with transliteration along with translation. 

Why You Might Need a Translation Agency?

If you have a growing business that you want to grow overseas, the first step is to hire a professional translation management system. And when it comes to accurate, error-free translation services for your websites, apps, gaming, or Automate, none comes close to Wordspath. 

Wordspath is the fastest-growing translation management system that offers high-quality translation services for all your language needs. 

Wordspath offers human translation and transcription services for business and professional documents. They offer affordable packages for all your translation needs, while being super accurate, delivering on time.

Whether your business needs translation, localization, transcription, voice overs, interpretation or even machine translation, Wordpath is your go to linguistic partner agency for your diverse needs.

If you are looking into a professional translation agency for a rush project, you may check out the details of this online human translation services. Wordspath can deliver a million-word project in ONE week of efficiency and high quality.

Translation VS Transliteration: Quick Summary

Finally, we have concluded the difference between translation and transliteration. While both translation and transliteration are important for linguistic needs, the two practices distinctly differ from each of them. 

If your priority is to convey your meaning accurately in another language, in a way that your audience understands, then the translation is what you need. To the contrary, if your main focus is converting from one script to the script of your audience, then transliteration is the option you need. 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Written By

We are an industry-leading language services provider. Our linguists are passionate about sharing their cutting-edge knowledge of the language industry. Follow us to get the latest news, events, tips, and opportunity.

You Might Also Like

Connect with Us

Request a Free Quote