Transcription – a thing of the future

11th August 2014

Transcription converts speech, either live or recorded, into a written or electronic text format. Common examples are the proceedings of a Court hearing (Court recording), or a physician’s recorded voice notes (medical transcription).

Going back to the early 1970s, transcription was a difficult job, as secretaries had to write down the speech as they heard it, using advanced skills such as shorthand. They also had to be at the location where the service was required. However, by the late 1970s, tape cassettes and portable recorders were making the work much easier and creating a new dynamic. Cassettes could ‘travel’, through internal or external mail which allowed the transcriptionists to have the work brought to them – anywhere in the wold.

Current technological, software and hardware advances make transcription so much easier. Today’s software is designed to greatly assist the transcription of audio recordings. Once installed, the linguist can control audio playback using a foot pedal or keyboard (with ‘hot’ keys). Some transcribing software also offers invaluable features for linguists: including variable speed playback, multi-channel control, video playback and file management. Software examples include NCH Software and Express Scribe.

The production process through which an audio/video recording becomes a written transcription is relatively straightforward; albeit time consuming. There are several factors that will effect the amount of time required; such as the file length, the number of people contributing to the discussion, the quality of the recording itself, clarity/speed of speech and any unnecessary background noise. Rule-of-thumb will suggest that 1 minute of audio-time requires 4 minutes of transcription-time; so for example, 15 minutes of audio recording will require an hour of actual work.

Foreign Tongues will transcribe any media file, in any format, that you send.  We will be delighted to assist you, with all your translation needs.

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