A transcript is a technique for the fixing (e.g. on paper, on a computer screen) of fleeting events (e.g. utterances, gestures) for the purpose of detailed analysis.Transcripts are inherently incomplete and should be continuously revised to display features of an interaction that have been illuminated by a particular analysis and allow for new insights that might lead to a new analysis. (See Alessandro Duranti Linguistic Anthropology, Cambridge University Press, 1997: ch. 5, and References below)

There are different kinds of transcripts. Some transcripts are designed to only represent talk. Other ones try to integrate information about talk and gestures. Some other ones might focus exclusively on non-verbal interaction. Linguistic ethnographers often produce an annotated transcript, that is, a text where the representation of talk is enriched by contextual information that is relevant to talk or makes it meaningful (see Bambi B. Schieffelin, The Give and Take of Everyday Life, Cambridge UP, 1990: 27-36).

A. Transcription Conventions

(Based on the transcription conventions developed by Gail Jefferson for the analysis of conversational turns in English conversation -- see Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson 1974 or Schenkein 1978 in the References on greetings).

Walter; Speakers' names are separated from their utterances by semicolons, followed by a few blank spaces.

?; A question mark instead of a name or initial indicates that no good guess could be made as to the identity of the speaker.

??; Multiple question marks followed by semicolon indicate that the speaker's identity is not clear but there are reasons to believe that it is someone different from the last unidentified speaker.

?Walter; a question mark before the name of the speaker stands for a probable but not safe guess regarding the identity of the speaker.

(1.5) Numbers between parentheses indicate length of pauses in seconds and tenths of seconds.

... Three dots indicate an untimed pause.

[...] Three dots between square brackets indicate that some material of the original transcript or example has been omitted or that the transcript starts or ends in the middle of further talk.

= Equal signs indicate 'latching,' that is, two utterances that follow one another without any perceptible pause.

[ A square bracket between turns indicates the point at which overlap by another speaker starts.

// Double obliques indicate the point at which overlap by the next speaker begins.

(don't) Words between parentheses in the transcripts represents the best guess of a stretch of talk which was difficult to hear.

( ? ? ) Blank spaces inside parentheses with occasional question marks indicate uncertain or unclear talk of approximately the length of the blank spaces between parentheses.

(( )) Material between double quotes provides extralinguistic information, e.g. about bodily movements.

so::: colons indicate the lengthening of the last sound.

B. References on Transcription

Duranti, A. (1997). Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Edwards, J. A., & Lampert, M. D. (Eds.). (1993). Talking Data: Transcription and Coding in Discourse Research . Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Luebs, M. A. (1996). Frozen Speech: The Rhetoric of Transcription. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Unpublished Dissertation.

Ochs, E. (1979). Transcription as Theory. In E. Ochs & B. B. Schieffelin (Eds.), Developmental Pragmatics (pp. 43-72). New York: Academic Press.

Ricoeur, P. (1971). The Model of the Text: Meaningful Action Considered as Text. Social Research, 38, 529-62.

Sacks, H., Schegloff, E. A., & Jefferson, G. (1978). A Simplest Systematics for the Organization of Turn-Taking fo Conversation. In J. Schenkein (Ed.), Studies in the Organization of Conversational Interaction (pp. 7-57). New York: Academic Press.

Schieffelin, B. B. (1990). The Give and Take of Everyday Life: Language Socialization of Kaluli Children. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.