Transcribing a 3 min phone call. Must know how to properly transcribe or else I will refund

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I need you to transcribe a 3 minute phone call. You must know how to properly transcribe an conversation and know how to use the proper grammar for transcriptions. The assignment is:

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Exercise # 1

This exercise will help you develop an understanding of the transcription conventions we will be using in this course. Most of the data we’ll be working with (in lectures, readings, and assignments) are transcripts of spoken interaction. It is important that you learn to recognize what a transcript shows to have happened in interaction, and how it shows that. One very effective way of acquiring this knowledge is by actually producing some transcript, using the various transcription symbols to represent a stretch of talk.

How to proceed:

1. To prepare for the assignment, familiarize yourself with the notational conventions in the appendix to the Heritage & Clayman textbook (pp. 283-287; also listed below). I strongly recommend that you also work through Professor Schegloff’s online transcription tutorial, linked at the bottom of the course website.

2. The call to be transcribed can be found at the Class Assignments link. To play it you need Quicktime Player, which is available as a free download from and runs on both Macs and PCs. Both the .mov and the .wav versions will play within Quicktime on either platform, but only the .wav version will play in Windows Media Player.

3. The call is about 2:40 long, but do not transcribe the entire call; stop when the caller says”they’re grown men” (about one minute into the call).

4. You must transcribe in Courier font. Any proportionally-spaced font (like Times) will ruin the alignment of your transcript for things like overlapping speech. Use Courier only.

5. Refer to the speakers as Clr (for Caller) and 911 (for call taker) in your transcript. Follow the other formatting conventions outlined below.

6. Remember: your job is to represent, as accurately as you can, just what you hear them to have said and done — which is not necessarily what they “should” have said or done.

7. Your work will be evaluated by assessing the degree to which your transcript displays a) an adequate grasp of the level of detail at which we work, b) a grasp of what the symbols are used to represent, and c) a reasonable first effort to represent this stretch of talk.

If your internet connection does not work fast enough for the sound to come through well, go to the CLICC commons in Powell Library and run the data from there.


This exercise is due Wednesday Oct. 17th by 10:00pm, via TurnItIn.

Your work should be a solo effort. Do not share files or compare your work with other students. Under no circumstances can you submit a transcript that is identical or similar to someone else’s.


Formatting conventions and other suggestions for this assignment

Example Transcript


01  DOC:
03  PAT:

05 06

Are you havin’ any real specific problems with the cou::gh, er anything like that? with your sinu[ses?

[Uh::(m) the only thing every once inna while I get a-=(get a-) uh: a really wi:ld

(0.2) extreme tickle in my throat. An’ I:(ve) gotta cough cough cough fer: (0.2) seconds.


Formatting the document
1. Set all page margins to 1”.

2. Set the font to Courier. This is important, because Courier is a fixed-space font, while others (e.g., Times, Palatino, Arial, etc.) are proportional fonts. In fixed-space fonts, all characters use the same amount of horizontal space. This allows all characters above and below each other to line up evenly on the page, which is critical when transcribing overlapping speech.

3. Set the font size to 10-point.


Typing the transcript

1. Begin each line with four (4) spaces using the space bar.

2. After these four spaces, add a three-letter abbreviated speaker-identification, followed by a colon. In the example above, “DOC:” and “PAT:” refer to doctor and patient, respectively. For this assignment, use an abbreviation that makes sense, e.g., Clr (for caller) and 911 (for call taker).

3. After the speaker identification, add five (5) spaces before starting the speaker’s talk.

4. Transcribe until the end of the line, and then add a hard return to advance the cursor to the next line. In general, you should always hit the return key get to the next line; do not keep typing and do not use tabs to advance the cursor.

5. Before adding the next line of talk for the same speaker, use the space key to enter enough spaces to line it up with the previous lines. Do not use tabs or any other formatting device.

6. When your transcript is finished, go back and replace the first two spaces of each line (remember, there were four) with a two-digit line number (01, 02, 03 … 10, 11, 12).

Other suggestions

1. If possible, use earbuds or headphones when listening to the call. You’ll be able to hear details much more easily and clearly and your transcript will be more accurate.

2. Remember to transcribe what you hear (the words and sounds as actually produced by the speakers). People do not always speak perfectly or formally. Sometimes they contract words (as in “havin'” in line 01 of the example above) or leave them out altogether; and sometimes they stop, back up, and repeat or revise what they’ve said (as in line 04 of the example above). You should aim to represent what you actually heard, not what you should have heard.

3. Do not run a spell check on your transcript!

4. DO NOT LEAVE THIS EXERCISE UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE! IT WILL TAKE LONGER THAN YOU ANTICIPATE! Most people find it easier and get better results by working on the assignment in several shorter sessions rather than one long session.


Transcription Conventions

The typed or printed examples embody an effort to to have the spelling of the words roughly indicate how the words were produced. Often this involves a departure from standard orthography. In addition:



[ ]

He says


Punctuation is designed to capture intonation, not grammar, and should be used to describe intonation at the end of a sentence or some other shorter unit. Use the symbols as follows: Comma is for slightly upward ‘continuing’ intonation; question mark for marked upward intonation; and period for falling intonation.

Left-side brackets indicate where overlapping talk begins.Right-side brackets indicate where overlapping talk ends, or

marks alignments within a continuing stream of overlapping talk.

Numbers in parentheses indicate periods of silence, in tenths of a second.

Colons indicate a lengthening of the sound just preceding them, proportional to the number of colons.

A hyphen indicates an abrupt cut-off or self-interruption of the sound in progress indicated by the preceding letter(s) (the example here represents a self-interrupted “because”).

Underlining indicates stress or emphasis.
A “hat” or circumflex accent symbol indicates a marked pitch rise.

Equal signs (ordinarily at the end of one line and the start of an ensuing one) indicates a “latched” relationship — no silence at all between them.

Empty parentheses indicate talk too obscure to transcribe. Words or letters inside such parentheses indicate the transcriber’s best estimate of what is being said.


hhh .hhh The letter “h” is used to indicate hearable aspiration, its length roughly proportional to the number of “h”s. If preceded by a dot, the aspiration is an in-breath. Aspiration internal to a word is enclosed in parentheses. Otherwise “h”s may indicate anything from ordinary breathing to sighing, laughing, etc.

° Talk appearing within degree signs is lower in volume relative to surrounding talk.

((looks)) Words in double parentheses indicate transcriber’s comments, not transcriptions.

–> Arrows in the margin point to the lines of transcript relevant to the point being made in the text.

A fuller glossary can be found in Atkinson, J. M. and Heritage, J. (ed.) (1984). Structures of Social Action, Cambridge University Press, pp.ix-xvi.

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