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Transcribing Interviews

The recording and transcription of interviews of any kind isn't as straight forward as it may seem. There are many issues and things the professional transcriptionist should consider while transcribing the dialog. This article attempts to bring these issues to light.

Transcription is often viewed as a chore by many, which is one reason why it's outsourced to professional agencies. When handled in-house it can be a costly process, particularly because specialized training is needed in order to maintain the accuracy of content during transcription. It is practiced in a number of ways, but two common transcription methods include verbatim where every utterance is transcribed in acute detail and clean verbatim in which certain elements of speech such as hesitations, stutters, coughs, "ums" and "ahs" are not included to make reading of the transcript flow more easily.

While a professional transcription agency may very well use one or other depending on the nature of the audio or video (e.g., transcription of law enforcement interviews of victims and suspects would require verbatim), interview transcription is often a cross between these two modes of transcription.

The reason for this cross is because in some situations, a non-verbal cue, tone of voice, or other elements may actually change the meaning of the conversation and set a specific undertone. Removing these items could change the overall tone and nature of the dialogue.

A good example of a scenario in which a cross of these may be necessary is a market research interview or interviews that take place on talk shows. The actual context could change depending on a cough or uncomfortable stutter while at the same time not every vocal cue is relevant. It is often left to the discretion of the professional transcription agency to determine if a vocal cue or auditory element is key.

For other situations such as interviews between legal or law enforcement personnel and witnesses, suspects or victims you have a setting where verbatim is important and every subtle noise, cough, stutter and beep is transcribed to maintain the accuracy of the original media. In situations such as this, these small cues are vital, partly due to formality and partly because that audio could have an impact on the outcome of a court decision or other legal matter.

Interview transcription can be difficult without the aid of a professional because you're stemming away from the professional world where audio and video recordings are often carefully articulated for accurate transcription. With interviews involving lay people, authors, journalistic interviews and more you encounter slang, language barriers and issues with diction. Likewise, poor quality hardware is often used in every day interviews which can pose problems with transcription.

Accent can also create issues during interview transcription. There are a variety of language issues that arise when transcribing interviews and if they affect the final transcript each one can create misunderstandings and confusion. The transcription agency, especially in situations where slang is usedFree Web Content, is often left with the decision to either transcribe the word exactly as it sounds and is spoken or to "convert" the accent or slang into Standard English. The transcriptionists own linguistic bias may also contribute to speech being transcribed not as uttered but as Standard English or the transcriptionists own variety of the language. In situations like this it is important to work with a professional interview transcription agency that can control their representation of the dialog as not to affect analysis and results while maintaining accuracy.

Article Tags: Transcribing Interviews, Transcription Agency, Interview Transcription

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TransDual Forensics provides both legal and general transcription services such as forensic, deposition, sermon, oral history and interview transcription. We are a bilingual company so we can transcribe and translate in Spanish and English. Visit our site for information about Spanish transcription services.

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