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Transcription tips

Transcription tips

Although it doesn’t account for a huge percentage of my workload, I sometimes get asked to transcribe video or audio recordings. Sometimes these are in Spanish and need to be translated directly into English, although more often than not, the Spanish transcription is sent to me for translation into English, and the video or audio recording is provided as supporting material. Of course, it is very important to carefully watch or listen to the recordings so as to ensure that your transcription has the right tone.

When I am not too busy translating, I also do transcriptions of committee meetings for a large multinational aid organisation. This is sometimes more difficult than translation, for a number of reasons. Firstly, these have to be verbatim translations and include every ‘um’, ‘ah’ and cougt, and the participants in the meeting are from numerous countries, and some of them do not speak very good English. Secondly, they are talking about the macro-economics of health programmes, which means that they use a lot of jargon and acronyms which are organisation-specific and refer to slides that I cannot see and which are not provided.  Last and not least, and probably because they have limited time available for their meetings, they mumble, stutter and speak extremely fast.

Luckily, there are some good tools available in the form of browser apps that make this rather daunting task easier. The one I use most frequently is a Google App called Project Scribe, which is also free. The tool is easily downloaded from the Google Play free of charge and does not have any annoying ‘in-app purchases’. Once loaded, it couldn’t be easier. You just drag your audio or video file into the app and you can play, pause, fast forward and rewind using easy-to-remember keyboard strokes. Just think how much easier it is to just hit ‘Esc” when you want to start or stop rather than having to take your fingers off the keyboard and use the mouse.

The app also saved me when there was a power cut, because every change you make to your work is automatically saved in your local browser storage. What a relief to switch on again and find that every last word was there! Best of all, you can slow down the speakers’ speech to half the speed, which makes what seems like an impossible task quite manageable.

I’m sure there are lots of other apps available, but if you are looking for something efficient and free, you can’t go far wrong with Project Scribe!

Juliet Allaway

Written by editor