Translation and Transliteration: Is there Any Difference?
Transliteration means transferring the letters or characters (of a word) from one alphabet to another. Translation, on the other hand, means substituting for a word (or series of words) in one language, a second word (or series of words) from another language which most closely approximates the meaning of the first word (or series of words).
Using technical language, we can say that "translation" involves mapping semantic content from one language to another, while "transliteration" simply means mapping characters from one writing system to another. An example might help to clarify the distinction. When Plato laid out his theory of Forms, he described the Forms using the Greek words eidos and idea. In translating Plato, one can simply transliterate these terms by rendering them with the English term "idea," or translate them by an English word -- such as "form" -- which uses different characters yet closely approximates the original meaning.