Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What is the Difference Between Verbatim Transcription and Intelligent Verbatim Transcription?

There are specific situations in which verbatim transcription is necessary.

Speech is complicated to transcribe. In verbatim transcription, each and every word the speaker said has to be captured. This is not easy, as people start sentences and don't finish them, they may repeat words, and use non-words such as ‘um’, ‘uh’, etc., frequently. Moreover, even the speaker’s pauses, gestures and facial expressions would add to the meaning. The challenge of verbatim transcription therefore lies in translating all of this into text. Skill in hearing and understanding what is crucial to preparing a verbatim transcript.  Spelling, punctuation and sentence structure must be such that the speech makes sense in writing.

In the case of a tape-recorded interview done for academic purposes, the transcriptionist has to remember that researchers and others my use the transcript over many years. In this case, it is usually important to transcribe all of the words spoken in the exact order in which they were spoken, even if the speech does not make sense to the transcriptionist. For example, if the transcript is used for scripting a documentary, each and every word would be needed to be transcribed verbatim. Here are some general rules about transcribing verbatim:

• ‘you know’ – if this phrase is used as a refrain, it need not be transcribed
• ‘um’ or ‘hmm’ – if this indicates that the speaker is thinking, it need not be transcribed
• if ‘um’ or ‘hmm’ indicates ‘yes’, they should be transcribed
• it’s important to transcribe ‘ah’ if it indicates realization or understanding
• ‘yeah’ indicates an affirmative and should be transcribed
• uh huh" and ‘umm hmm’ should be transcribed if they stand for a positive response to a question or statement
• if ‘ah hah!’ is an exclamation, transcribe it

Verbatim transcription is required in the case of cross examinations, police interviews, legal judgments, or appeals. The documentation should provide a clear insight into what was actually going on in the respondent’s mind. The reactions and behavior of a person being questioned in this case would be just as significant as the spoken words. Court records strictly demand verbatim transcription as even a minute change in an expression can make a big difference to the context.

Intelligent verbatim is often used for transcripts that would be distributed on a corporate basis. The sentences are validated for grammar correction. Incomplete or unwanted sentences or words are omitted or transcribed intelligently to make the transcription pretty accurate and clear. Redundant phrases and words are left out without altering the meaning of the context. However, the transcriptionist should take the needs of the user into consideration before eliminating or avoiding anything from the recording. Such documentation would involve sentences with a clear beginning, middle and an end.

An established transcription company would offer both verbatim and intelligent verbatim transcription services. Clients can request for any type of documentation by clearly specifying the goals and benefit from individualized solutions.