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Friday, September 19, 2008

Parentheticals for Added Context

Not only can the spoken word be difficult to transcribe in a grammatically correct fashion but it also can be devoid of some important context if only the words are transcribed. Humans use more than just words to communicate. Emotion, inflection, and gestures are just a few examples that can change the meaning of a line of text dramatically.

So how do we as transcriptionists include this significant information? We use what are called parentheticals, also know as asides. Parentheticals are clarifying words, phrases, or remarks in parentheses that are inserted in a transcript.

You may already use some of these in your transcripts. Indicating laughter in some manner is pretty standard in transcripts, but indicating that a speaker is mimicking or mocking someone, crying, shouting, whispering, just to name a few, are all important additions that give added meaning. Without parentheticals a person reading a transcript might misinterpret a line that is said in jest as a factual opinion.

Parenthenticals don't necessarily have to be in parentheses. You could also use brackets as well as italics to set them off from the rest of the text. Here's just a few examples of formatting:

  • (laughter)
  • [laughter]
  • (laughter)
  • [laughter]

As always, it's important to check with your clients as to whether or not they want this information included. Some don't, which I don't understand, but I'm sure they have their reasons.

1 Comment:

anne said...

Personally I never use 'ordinary' brackets, as I might use these in the text. I use triangular brackets. Can't give an example as 'Blogger' thinks I'm trying to put HTML in my comment!