LINGUIST List 5.1347

Tue 22 Nov 1994

Sum: Software for the transcription of spoken discourse

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  1. Karsten Gramkow, Sum: Computer transcription

Message 1: Sum: Computer transcription

Date: Tue, 22 Nov 94 10:41:24 +0Sum: Computer transcription
From: Karsten Gramkow <>
Subject: Sum: Computer transcription

A couple of months ago, I asked the members of this list for help regarding
software for the transcription of spoken discourse. I received a large
number of answers, some to my personal e-mail address, some 'public'. In the
following I shall quote some of the answers and attempt to sum up what I
consider to be the most important info received on the matter:

 Perhaps slightly off the subject a few answers spoke of the
possibilities for machine-readable text:

'A company named Norris Communication (San Diego, CA) sells a digital
recorder that breaks down audio input into machine readable code (including
ascii I assume)'
'Norris is reputed to be only one of two companies in the USA (maybe the
world) manufacturing digital audio recorders using so-called "flash chips"
(semiconductor memory chips that permit both read and write functions).
The digitized flash memory can be "dumped" to a PC in machine readable code
(which I assume would include ascii compatibility--that's my assumption).
I don't have an address, but I got their telephone number from directory
assistance. The company is located in a suburb of San Diego, California
called Poway, California. The listed telephone number is 619-679-1504. If
that doesn't work for some reason, directory assistance can be reached at
619-555-1212. '

 A number of answers centered around using standard word
processors' macro facilities:

'I used to do this quite satisfactorily on the PC using MS Word with
glossary items to quickly input speaker identification, special character
sequences, etc. Use a style sheet for controlling formatting. I imagine
that Word Perfect for the PC can do the same thing, especially with its macros.'

' I've made a set of macro's which operate on a standardized form to
facilitate the transcribing process. Essentially what I did is simply
reduce all routinely occurring series of keystrokes to one ALT- or
Control-key. '

 Most transcription software seems to be available for the Mac:

'For the Macintosh I would definitely use Nisus with a macro that has been
assigned a short and easy to type keyboard
shortcut. From little things like this to far more complex tasks, Nisus is
amazing. It is truly the power user's and linguist's word processor of
choice. From what I have seen, it is also the most WorldScript-savvy word
processor available. If you haven't seen it, check out the new NisusWriter
4.0 which should be shipping very soon if not already.'

More info may be available from this internet address:


'The Mac-programme you mention is syncWRITER, I guess. It costs some hundred
German Marks'

SyncWriter is sold by:
Med-i-bit, Hohenfelderstrasse 20, 22087 Hamburg, Germany (phone +49 40 251
67 125).


'You are welcome to include The WorkBench in your summary. However, as you
know the bench is not really
a transcription program, though it has some features for making transcribing
easier -- e.g. the transcription keypad (with user definable strings and CA
symbols) and the ability to link and play in a loop quicktime movie audio
tapes. Also, do mention that distribution is limited at this time. The bench
is now available on the World Wide Web.'

For further info, try contacting:

 For DOS-based computers:

 HIAT-DOS 2.2:

'HIAT-DOS was developed as a transcription programme everybody can afford;
that is why it lacks certain technical gimmicks. The price of the new
version is somewhat between 40 and 80 German Marks (as far as I know); it is
distributed by':
Prof. Konrad Ehlich
Institut fuer Deutsch als Fremdsprache
LMU Muenchen
Ludwigstrasse 27
D-80359 Muenchen
Fax: Germany-089/21802116.

'HIAT-DOS is a kind of word processing program designed for processing
transcripts; thus you've got a certain format in which you fill the
transcript, you've got certain special correction devices etc. It's a simple
tool which is more comfortable for transcription purposes than word
processing programs, that's all. '
Recommended reading:
Ehlich, Konrad (1992) HIAT - a transcription system for discourse data. in:
Edwards, Jane A./ Lampert, Martin D. (eds.) Talking data.
Hillsdale N.J.:Erlbaum.

A couple of other programs (Mac and DOS) were mentioned, but they seem to be
unfinished so far. Why is it that noone has developed a user-friendly
Windows-based transcription program ?

The above mentioned transcription programs all use the text/music score
principle, i.e., the conversation is printed in 'running' systems. If you,
as I do myself, use standard line transcription, there seems to be very
little help out there to save you from adjusting a lot whenever you make any
changes or corrections to your transript. One possibility may be a system of
macros - perhaps this calls for further discussion in this forum ???

Thank you to everyone for your cooperation,

Karsten Gramkow

Karsten Gramkow
Centre for Languages and Intercultural Studies
Aalborg University
Havrevangen 1
DK - 9000 Aalborg
ph.: +45 98 15 42 11, ext. 6229
fax: +45 98 16 65 66
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