Explaining the notation in the transcript
On the previous page I gave a 'usable' transcript which was a compromise
between various competing worries about what to put on and what to leave off.
introduced a lot of new symbols which need explaining. Here is that transcript
again, with comments in the right hand column to help clarify what the notation
symbols do. They were originally developed by
Gail Jefferson in the early days
of of CA, and have proved so robust and analytically useful that they have become indispensable. Some explanations need a bit more room, so there
are still more notes at the foot of the table. [I've also collected together all the signs on a separate page labelled
[Lyn & Zoe T4, 1]
|1||Zoe|| ((off camera)) Mum?
||worth noting that the two parties are not in sight of one another
||the '.pt' is a conventional representation of a slight
lipsmack. The up arrow shows a pitch rise; the underline
shows slight increase in volume
|3|| ||(3 sec)
||putting the pause on its own line means it doesn't 'belong' to either party (see note 1)
||another underline showing slight increase in volume
||more precise timing allows analysis of more subtle effects
||the brackets show that the word is something of a guess; the dash represent a 'cut-off' sound
|8||Lyn|| ((coughs / clears throat))
||the double brackets and italics show that this is a stab at a sound difficult to
represent anywhere near phonetically
||another sound, this one unattributed
||no particular notation to add
||the colons show an elongation of the sound
|14||Zoe|| where's the ↑cigarett:es
||the arrow shows another intonation spike; note that it is at the start of the word, not the end; had it been,
we might have used a conventional ? mark (see below).
The : shows an elongation of the 't' sound
|16||Lyn||in the kitchen,
||emphasis again, and the comma indicates a 'continuing' trajectory, as if she has more to say
|18||Zoe|| th' camera's on.
||the full stop indicates a 'sentence-ending' intonation (cf 'comma', above).
||the inward arrowheads mean the word is spoken fast
|21||Zoe|| w'(h)are you ta(h)lking to it
||the (h)s are laughter particles embedded in the rush of
|22|| || while you
||the capitals indicate higher
volume, and the ? an upward 'question' intonation.
||a combination of emphasis, elongation and a comma for 'sentence-continuing' intonation
|25||Lyn|| [heh heh ºheh hehº=
||the 'heh's are conventional 'little laughter' sounds; the latter pair are softer. The square
brackets, aligned with the turn below, show that it is in overlap; the equals sign, that it runs on to the next equals sign
|26||Zoe||[hh what ye' DOINg then
||aligned, and the hh indicates an outbreath. The "ye'" is an attempt to capture a curtailed 'you'
|27||Lyn|| =hahh hahh hahh
||the equals sign shows this runs on from a previous turn
|29||Zoe|| what's the ↑point:h
||up spike, emphasis, elongation and a continuation of the "t" sound into a brief outbreath
↑god (.) look what ↑I'm wearing
||up intonations, emphasis and the (.) is a just-noticeable pause
Some further notes about the conventions
There is plenty more to say about using those symbols - it is not always easy.
Here are just three of the more common queries that crop up when people
start to think about transcribing for the first time. They're all good
questions, and the notes above just sketch out an answer. As ever, there is a
lot more to be said, and if you were interested you might follow the issue up in
one of the introductory sources in the References.
Do pauses go on the same line as the speaker's turn?
worth making a distinction between a pause that 'belongs' to someone
and one that doesn't. So put the pause in the speaker's turn, if the speaker doesn't
seem to have finished, as happens in line 31; but if he or she has reached a point where another person can speak without
danger of seeming to 'butt in', then put the pause on a new line (as happens
quite a lot above - on lines 3, 5, 7 and so on.
Those up and down arrows - what do they mean exactly?
Intonation is so complex that these two
conventions - along with full stops, commas and question marks - are admittedly rather thin ways of
trying to get across the 'music' of the talk. But they are helpful in showing where speech 'rises' and 'falls'.
But the arrows are notoriously hard to use reliably, so when starting out, try
to limit them only to the most significant pitch change in a phrase, and to
ones which happen in unexpected places.
The laughter notation looks a bit crude.
Yes, it is; laughter is notoriously hard to transcribe. The safest
bet seems to be to a) distinguish between, on the one hand, laughter 'bubbling through' words (indicated by (h) in the middle of
words) and, on the other, laughter on its own; and b) between more or less quiet and more or less loud laughter, by
conventions like 'heh heh' and 'ha ha', along with underlining and capitals. But laughter is acknowledged to want its
own careful study.
But anyway - do all these things really have to be very precisely marked?
Yes, because a lot can be communicated by exactly how and when you speak. Like every other notation convention on this page, the 'proof of the pudding'
is that even the tiniest of features have been found to be significant.
This is the end of the 'transcription' section. You can always come back here
if you need to remind yourself of what the symbols mean, or alternatively you
can go to a simpler listing on the notation page.
If you'd like now to move on
and to see what I mean about speech features
being significant, have a look at the analysis pages.