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Transcription of speech

If you have recorded spoken language, it is usually necessary to transcribe it first before subjecting it to further analysis. This means that whatever is said is represented in text as accurately as possible. Unfortunately, it is usually not possible to automate this process with acceptable results using speech recognition, so this must typically be done by hand. This process has two main activities: listening and typing. Assuming the recording is digital, there are various tools available to support this process:

  • Soundscriber is a simple (freeware) program that has a number of specific features for transcription work in addition to the regular playback features of programs such as Windows Media Player, including variable playback speed and automatic repeat playback of short segments of the audio file. More information.
  • TranscriberAG is a more elaborate (free) program that provides support for segmenting (longer) sound recordings and transcribing them and that allows labelling speaker changes, subject changes and acoustic conditions. The program can also process video files.
    Although TranscriberAG was developed for (linguistic) research on spoken language, these functions can also be useful for other applications. More information.
  • Transana is an advanced program that can be used to manage and transcribe spoken language data, including video files. Transana also provides several tools for analysing the transcribed materials. The Faculty of Humanities has a licence for Transana. More information.

Note: for some types of linguistic research, transcription does not only involve the representation of speech in written form, but also the notation of various phonological and phonetic characteristics, such as pauses, stress and pitch. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and the ASCII equivalent SAMPA are common systems for this type of transcription. There are various useful tools for inserting IPA symbols (phonetic symbols) into a document, such as IPAKLICK (only works well in Internet Explorer) and the IPA Console.

Other topics in this section: Text