Handling Stutters in Transcription

by | Published on Jul 4, 2014 | Legal Transcription

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Handling Stutters in TranscriptionAccording to the Stuttering Foundation of America, more than 3 million Americans stutter and there are over 68 million people worldwide who do so. When it comes to any kind of transcription – medical, business, academic or legal transcription, handling stutters can be a challenge. It’s not easy to transcribe an audio recording when the flow of speech is broken by repetitions. Speech quirks make it difficult to understand what the speaker is saying. Based on the type of transcription, here are some tips to help ensure accurate documentation when the speaker stutters:

  • Listen carefully to the entire audio. Make a note of places where the stuttering occurs.
  • Stick to verbatim transcription, which means you would have to mention each and every stutter as it occurs. For instance, if the audio file reads ‘th-th-th-thought’, then this should be written down as such. Verbatim is commonly used for court transcripts and some types of interviews. Researchers studying speech patterns would choose this format.
  • Another approach is to avoid reporting the stutter and just transcribe the actual word. For instance, the ‘th’ is left out and only ‘thought’ is mentioned. This type of transcript gives an idea on what was conveyed in the audio but the way the speaker expressed the word is not detailed. This could be suitable for general transcription.
  • The most common approach is intelligent verbatim. This approach just indicates that there was a stutter, but the number of times it was repeated is omitted. So here, the word would be reported as ‘th-thought’.

The ideal way to go about transcribing stutters is to discuss matters with the client. Explain the possible approaches to them and ask them which method would suit their purpose. This will help save time and avoid misunderstandings.

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