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What is a transcription?

Transcription (writing) refers to the transcription of a text from one language system into another. At the same time, transcription is also understood to be the transcription of spoken words as a preliminary stage to translation.

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Meaning of transcription

The term transcription is composed of the Latin words ‘trans’ (across) and ‘scribere’ (to write). A synonyms for transcription is transliteration. Whether a transcription is useful depends entirely on the purpose and scientific nature of a paper. In the case of a final thesis, for example, it is almost impossible to avoid transcription into text form if expert interviews have to be evaluated. Only written data can be evaluated and compared with each other. The transcription follows certain transcription rules that presuppose certain procedures.

Transcription of interviews

When it comes to writing down language, a systematic approach is crucial. Depending on the aim of the transcription, the procedure and the transcription rules differ. There are three ways to transcribe audio files.

Phonetic transcription

The transcription is verbatim and contains all linguistic peculiarities, including, for example, the retention of a dialect.

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FAQ: More questions about transcription

What does transcription mean?

Transcription refers to the transfer of a text from one language to another. In the context of translations, transcription also means the transcription of spoken words.

What is a phonetic script?

Phonetic script (also: phonetic transcription) is the visual representation of speech sounds. The best-known writing system is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), which uses a phonetic character for each sound. Many of the symbols come from the Greek and Latin alphabets or were created especially for the IPA. Phonetic writing can be especially helpful when learning new languages and using a lexicon.

How do you write a transcription?

A transcription is always used when you need the content of an audio file or video recording for later analysis. For this purpose, the spoken word is written down in a text. In an academic context, for example in Bachelor’s theses or other final papers, only statements from transcripts may be quoted, not from recordings. So-called transcription rules are used, which determine how and in what sequence the word is to be transcribed. First, an appropriate transcription system must be selected (see: transcription of interviews – procedure and rules). It is important that the transcript has a uniform structure. This includes a header, time stamps and the marking of all speakers.

How long does it take to transcribe?

Sufficient time should be allowed for transcribing. A rule of thumb is that the transcription of an interview takes about 5 to 10 times as long as the audio file. For a one-hour recording, this means about 5-10 hours of transcription time including proofreading. The exact effort also depends on the type and quality of the audio material. In order to keep the time expenditure low, the purchase of transcription software can be considered.

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