Question About Transcription Practices
Thread poster: perevodchitsa33

perevodchitsa33  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:22
Russian to English
May 1, 2013


I am new to the translation field and was wondering how to best go about transcribing from audio. Should you write the content exactly how it was spoken, grammatical errors and such included, or should you make necessary adjustments to the content so that it reads a little more clearly? I know with straight translation one shouldn't attempt to "fix" the original content, but I'm not sure if the same approach should be used for transcription (such as writing out interviews).


Ileana Fernandez Oakes  Identity Verified
United States
English to Spanish
+ ...
Write exactly as spoken May 1, 2013

Transcription is the transferring of the spoken word to paper. A transcript should be as faithful to the audio as possible. Your client should indicate you if it has to be "verbatim" (writing all Uhh, Umms, uh-huhs, etc) or if you should skip that.

You should be very detailed on your punctuation.

Hope this helps



perevodchitsa33  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:22
Russian to English
Thanks May 1, 2013

Thank you, Ileana! Your answer is very helpful.



Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:22
Chinese to English
Depends on the purpose May 2, 2013

It really depends on the purpose of the job. There are various levels of transcription (you can look them up - try googling "intelligent verbatim"), and if your client specialises in this kind of work, they will tell you the term of art. But if they don't, you'll have to guess for yourself. A police/legal interview should probably be transcribed verbatim, as close to word-for-word as possible. But if it's a media interview, that level of transcription would be inappropriate. If you or someone else is going to translate the text, then verbatim can be highly unhelpful, as verbatim speech is often very difficult to understand.

Your comment about "fixing" the content is rather too absolute as well: again, it depends on context. There is nothing to be gained by perpetuating a typo - unless the work calls for it (e.g. legal translation).

If in doubt, ask the client! They'd prefer you to do what's best for them than rather than stick to some imagined and unrealistic professional code.


perevodchitsa33  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:22
Russian to English
Depends on the Purpose May 2, 2013

That seems reasonable to me!! Thank you for your help, Phil.


Petr Jan Vins
Local time: 11:22
English to Czech
+ ...
Purpose, purpose, purpose May 2, 2013

I fully agree with Phil. It really depends on the purpose. I've been working on a "Spoken Language Corpus" project recently and there we would transcribe everything exactly as said, including all errors etc. On the other hand when transcribing for example an interview with someone (which I do regulary in one Oral History research project), you can go as far as correcting grammar or substituting too colloquial words.


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