"ain't gonna back down"

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Thu Sep 12 16:35:23 UTC 2002

On Thu, 12 Sep 2002, Alice Faber wrote:

#I don't know if it's a matter of being overzealous.
#Years ago, for a graduate course in conversations and interviews, I
#transcribed one of the Carter-Ford Presidential debates and compared
#my transcript with the "official" transcript published in The New
#York Times. Working from memory now (I'm not sure which box at home
#the materials are in), there were two sorts of discrepancies. First,
#disfluencies (hesitation marks) were cleaned up and some false starts
#were removed, in the NYT transcripts. Second, there were some changes
#from more to less marked syntactic structures (a problem for me,
#since I was looking at relative clause structure). In addition there
#were normative spellings ("going to" for "gonna") and the like.

I worked with many transcribers and transcription agencies while
managing acoustic data collection for Dragon Systems, and this is what
they routinely did, because it's what they were asked to do.  It was a
constant struggle, constantly renewed with each new person or group, to
get them to turn their professional habits upside-down and transcribe
disfluencies and errors "warts and all"-- as well as teaching them the
conventions for marking these, which we also had to invent and to modify
for each language, and to work out the extra pay for the extra work.

My sister, a medical transcriptionist, is actually supposed to clean up
the syntax and make sentences grammatical. She sent me a doozie the
other day; the doctor had started one construction, then wandered far
off down into a subordinate clause and forgot that it wasn't the main
one. There was just no way to make that coherent.

-- Mark A. Mandel

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