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Transcription Services

Jan 27, 2008
Transcription is a process through which verbal communication is converted into written text. The source material often consists of video or audio tape recordings of formal or informal conversations, which need to be turned into written form for further analysis, practical usage or sometimes translation into a different language.

The following are examples of circumstances in which a transcription may be needed:

- court hearings (a witness' statement or a formal legal proceeding)
- prison (when a prisoner is interviewed under caution)
- data gathering (from interviews subsequently used for statistics, reports, documentaries, research or medical purposes etc.)
- journalistic purposes (interviews relevant to a specific topic which will be subsequently reported and expanded on in a newspaper, magazine, journal etc.)
- business purposes (recordings of conferences, round table or board meetings)
- academic environment (recordings of lectures)

Transcripts produced in such circumstances are often used for official purposes and require a high level of accuracy. This has led to an increase in the number of professional linguists specializing in a specific area of expertise.

Another form of transcription involves instead the conversion of verbal communication into written symbols that match the sounds produced during the speech. This is called a phonetic transcription and is carried out by using a series of internationally recognized symbols which constitute the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).

However when the normal alphabet is used for the transcription of verbal communication which contains a word in another language the written form might become an adaptation rather that a precise conversion. This happens with languages which do not share the same alphabet or sounds. In this case the conversion of that particular word is called a transliteration, which uses a series of conventions so that a sound can be reproduced as closely as possible through the alphabet of the target language.

For example, this happens when a Russian, Chinese, Japanese or Arabic name is converted into English script. The resulting transliteration is a close match of the original sound produced in the foreign language and is adopted in the target language for practical usage.

As previously mentioned, transcriptions of verbal communications are often used to produce an equivalent written text in another language through translation. Translation differs from transcription and transliteration as it involves the transfer of the word meaning from source language to target a target language. For instance a Russian translation of an English document.

Translation is a much more complex skill as it requires an in-depth knowledge of the idioms, grammar, syntax and lexicon of both the source and the target language. The complexity of this process is also due to the fact that languages are self-contained systems which are governed by different rules and a word-by-word mechanical conversion would not, in most cases, succeed in conveying the message in an accurate manner.

Often the what is required is a joint transcription and translation service. The documenting of what has been stated will be the transcription and the translation will be the conversion of the document into the required language. An example project could be: Interviews filmed in Italian, the Italian transcription would then be made followed by an English translation service.
About the Author
The author has worked internationally for many years and is now a partner at the transcription and translation agency - Axis Translations where you can find assistance with a wide range of language matters. A core part of his expertise is with transcription services. For more information about transcription and translation visit http://www.axistranslations.com
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