Transcribing: A True Art Form, part 1

The English language is one of the most difficult languages for people who speak other languages to learn. Why is this? The English language makes no sense (immediate following examples are borrowed from

  • There is no ham in hamburger

  • Neither is there any apple nor pine in pineapple

  • If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?

  • If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

  • “Overlook” and “oversee” have opposite meanings, while “look” and “see” mean the same thing.

There are many exceptions to rules, the order of words is hard for those learning English, pronunciation and emphasis are difficult, there are homophones, idioms, and regional dialects – all of which make it very difficult for an English language learner.

What does all of this have to do with transcribing? Everything.

We so often take for granted the differences between written and spoken word. When we say hello and good morning to someone, it could be written in several ways, such as:

- “Hello! Good morning!”

-“Hello. Good morning.”

- “Hello….good morning.”

- “Hello – good morning!”

- “Hello; good morning….” Which one is the correct way? What emotion should be behind the phrase? Well, that’s where a good transcriber comes in. They need to be able to use the tools of their trade, as well as a trained ear, and a lot of patience to be able to craft the conventions of the difficult and confusing English language of written form and combine that knowledge to spoken word.

And often transcribers are working on contracts with clients. Once a transcriber writes what they hear – there is an in depth process of editing the script. Once the script is edited, they send it to their client. Now the client either approves, follows-up with asking for more edits on the script, or will edit themselves.

We all think art is something ascetically pleasing, something that strikes against the chords or creativity within us like a Monet, or a Picasso; or possibly listening to Beethoven, or Brahms. But what about the art form of taking what comes from our mouths and being able to craft that onto paper using the complicated conventions of the English language?

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