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The Challenges of Russian Transcription

Russian is a prominent East Slavic language with over 265 million speakers worldwide, primarily in Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Do you work closely with people in these regions? Is your organization located in a Russian-speaking region, and does it want to appeal to an English-speaking audience? If so, know that transcribing and translating your audio and video content into English will help you reach a wider audience.

However, transcribing Russian presents a multitude of challenges specific to the language itself. At, we offer accurate, first-rate Russian transcripts with customer satisfaction guaranteed. Contact us today to find out more about our Russian transcription services.

To help you understand the work that goes into creating Russian or English transcripts from Russian language audio, here are the top three challenges transcribers face.

Should I use Cyrillic or romanized script?

Russian can be written using two scripts: Cyrillic or romanized Russian. Cyrillic, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is more traditional and is used for many Slavic languages.

The romanized script uses the Latin alphabet, and is thus easier to type on an English keyboard. Romanized Russian is transliterated, meaning it does not always directly portray the Russian words spoken.

How do you choose between the two scripts? If you are uncertain, ask your Russian transcription service to advise which is more appropriate for your intended audience.

Which romanization standard is best?

Although romanized Russian is easier to type, transcriptionists have to determine which romanization standard they should use. Throughout history, different standards have been used at different time periods.

Three main standards are used today:

  • The BGN/PCGN system, the most common and intuitive for anglophones to read and pronounce

  • The British standard, the primary system of the Oxford University Press

  • The International Scholarly System, also known as the academic or scientific transliteration system

Let your transcriptionist know if you have a specific standard in mind. If you’re undecided, your transcription service can advise you which standard is best for your project.

What type of transcription do I need?

If you have a Russian audio or video file that you need translated into English, you have two transcription options:

  1. Transcribe the Russian audio into Russian text, and then translate the Russian text into English.

  2. Translate the Russian audio directly into English text, and skip the Russian transcription altogether.

Option two is more cost-effective, but requires a professional transcriptionist who is fluent in both English and Russian.

Hire a professional for your Russian transcript

And there you have it, the three major challenges Russian transcription services face when working with the Russian language. Should you have any further questions about the process of transcribing your Russian audio or video files, contact today.


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