Over the generations, numerous civilizations have developed numerous languages in the world. In the words of Edward Sapir,“Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.”  Today as the distance between the nations of the world is reducing and everyone is looking on to globalization, we often come across people speaking language different to ours. Thus with an intention of not letting the language become a limitation for us, the linguists have come up with few ways that allow multilingual communication and understanding. Interpretation, Translation, Transcription and Localization are some of the ways for the same. These terms are also the ones among which we often tend to get confused.

So let us try and understand the differences between these terms.

For better understanding, let’s take the scenario where the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is addressing the gathering at Wembley Stadium, England. The only language the speaker is comfortable is Hindi, but the British Prime Minister David Cameroon and many more from the audience understands only English. Hence to dissolve the language barrier, while Mr. Modi is delivering his speech, we’ll need to have an expert who will convert what he is saying in Hindi, into English. This expert is an interpreter and the entire process is Interpretation.

“Speaking while listening and having two languages active at once are extreme feats of multitasking”  – Allison MacLachlan

Interpretation refers to oral conversion of a speech or sign from one language to another. An interpreter converts the thoughts of one language into similar expressions in another language.


After the speech is over it is appreciated a lot by the audience. We are now further approached by media channel from Spain, people who understand Spanish and not Hindi or English. They want to have a copy of the speech in Spanish so that they can read and understand.

So now the first step would be to verbatim transcribe the speech. Transcription refers to converting the spoken language form into written or electronic text form. 


Now to convert this text from one language to another, at this stage we take help of a translator who will help us to re-write the entire speech in the local language in such a way that the meaning and the expression of the lecture remains the same. This process is known as Translation.

A translator usually converts a paragraph, text, poetry or a book from one language to another in such a way that the expression and the beauty of the original language is retained. Translation refers to communicating the meaning of a particular text from one language to another in the written form.

“Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes” – Grass Günter        



But now a Latin American who speaks Spanish reads the Spanish translation of the speech targeted. Is it a good idea? For eg, the verb coger (to catch) is frequently used in Spain and is a very common phrase there like coger al toro por los cuernos, literally, “to take the bull by the horns”. However, in Latin America, coger is a slang term used extensively to describe, ahem, the act of love. Hence there comes the need to localize the text.

The purpose of localization is to adapt the source text into the target language in such a way that it creates a feel that it was specifically written for the target audience. Localization is the process of adapting things for a specific region into a local language. The texts already translated into different languages are further adapted to a specific dialect which has the cultural influence of the particular region.


George Orwell once quoted “A language can also corrupt thought.” Not letting a thought corrupt, stands extremely important while converting things from one language to another. And by having a clear understanding of your needs, we develop strong relationships with our clients and help them reach their goals all over the world. Contact us now to discuss your language needs.

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