Being a transcriptionist is not only about being able to hear the audio and write it down. It is much more than that. Even at a basic level, good grammar is a must. A silly mistake such as a missing comma and the whole meaning of a sentence could change.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid, and while you may think you know enough not to make them, typing fast as you listen to audio can force errors you otherwise would never make.
Do Not Correct
Your job is to write exactly what was said, (especially for a verbatim transcription). You are not paid to correct bad grammar. While this may not be your intention, it is easy to write the correct form, simply because that is the way you always write it. Talking about a man speaking, t is second nature to follow ‘he’ with ‘says’, but if the audio is ‘he say’ then that is what you write.
By the same token, you must get your own verbs right, both regarding tense and conjugation.
Similar Sounding Words
You need to be careful of words that sound alike, but have different meanings, (these are called homophones). Usually you can choose which is correct in the context of the sentence, but if you are in doubt note this in the transcription. An example of these is affect/effect, and unfortunately there are people who do not know the difference, so make sure you are not among them.
It seems rather obvious that in order to transcribe an audio recording you need to be able to spell. That is not always the case, and many bad spellers, (they generally have bad grammar too), think they can do this job because it is simple. The best, (and probably the only way), to get good spelling, grammar and punctuation is to use a reputable service like Singapore Transcription.
It is one thing to punctuate your own writing, but another to put a pause into someone else’s spoken words. You need to recognise a new sentence, even a paragraph and show how the speaker said things by using cues in the transcript.
If there are numbers in the recording, double check you have not transposed any.Tthe difference between 198,275 and 918, 275 is very big and could be a vital error. Naturally the same is true of letters. Do not rely on a machine to ‘spellcheck’ for you. Yes, it might work, but often it will let you down. There are instances where the computer will not signal a mistake; for example, nature is a word, but so is mature, so the difference will not always be highlighted.
A capital letter at the beginning of a sentence is easy to do, but how about when it is a name, and especially one that has another meaning. In America there are ladies called ‘Candy’, which is also ‘sweets’ in American English, or ‘candy’. Both with and without a capital latter can be correct in this and other cases, depending on the context.
Do not abbreviate unless the speaker does so, and don’ be tempted to go for the short option if ‘I’d’ if what was said was ‘I would’.
Know your words
- There – their
- Its – it’s
- You’re – your
- Me – I
- To – too (and two)
- Who – which – that
- Assure – Ensure
- Farther – Further
- Between – Among
- Bring – take
The list is very long, but you get the idea.
These pairs of word have different meanings and are used in different ways, (look them up if you think they are the same), yet many believe they are the same. These sorts of elementary mistakes are not acceptable in a transcription.
The correct tense is very important. The past tense tells the reader the thing has happened and is over, the future shows he had yet to do it and so on. This is elementary, but you get the picture.
To Sum Up
There can be different reasons for making grammar mistakes. Speed, dis-attention or simply error should be the most common ones, as most of the other reasons indicate a lack of basic language skills that shows you should not be doing transcriptions. If you want to be a transcriptionist, first perfect your grammar, then start practicing.
As a buyer of transcription services – go with an experienced, reputable company like Singapore Transcription. It is cheaper in the long run.