Have you ever read a historical speech in a textbook or an interview of your favourite musician in Rolling Stone? Then you’ve read the work of a transcriptionist. These professionals convert the spoken word into a written record, usually by listening to an audio file and typing out what they hear. 

In the legal profession, transcriptionists focus on converting audio logged in lawyer’s offices and courtrooms around the world. They may listen to dictated notes, recorded interviews, and hearings to reproduce these files in a written format. 

Foreign language transcriptionists go one step further. Rather than transposing spoken English into written English, their transcription services involve converting speeches and other audio files into French, Japanese, or any number of other languages. 

Some legal transcription services moonlight as translation services, so they can convert your audio into more than 100 languages. Let’s find out the most common languages these legal services interact with every day.

Here are the Most Popular Languages Involved in Transcription

The languages below have some things in common. Not only do they have the biggest number of speakers worldwide, but they’re also some of the most influential languages in trade and politics. 


With roughly 1.35 billion speakers, English is the most spoken language in the world as of 2021. 

It also happens to be the most widely used language of the Internet — although this may not come as a surprise if you speak ESL. 

Due to English’s wide penetration of digital spaces and the real world, many international firms use it as a lingua franca when working with other businesses and practices that don’t speak their language. They may require legal transcription services to share written records in English. 


Between Mandarin, Cantonese, and Wu, there are roughly 1.31 billion people who speak Chinese. These numbers make it the second most popular language in the world. 

It also happens to be one of the most commonly transcribed languages because China represents a massive economic force on the world stage. 

Legal transcription services can help you — whether you need to recover audio evidence from a corporate office located in Hong Kong, or you need to transcribe your time representing a client in foreign arbitration. 


Nearly 560 million Spanish speakers are scattered across the globe, making it the third-most spoken language in the world. And as the official language in 20 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Africa, it’s one of the most widely used languages in domestic courts around the world. 

As a result, Spanish is another popular language requested by transcription services in cross-jurisdictional matters.

How to Find a Transcription Service for Your Practice

Most international transcription companies will service English, Chinese, and Spanish. But what happens if you need help transcribing something in Japanese, French, Hindi, or Arabic?

Look for a company that boasts an international roster of native speakers. You’ll be able to compare concrete numbers of how many languages they can transcribe on their website and choose the one that offers the best match for your needs.