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Knowledge of Accents in Transcription

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

Obviously it is fundamental to know the language you are transcribing from and into, but often this is not enough.

Conventions can be national or international, and that involved myriad of accents of all types.

While most people think of accents as being what foreigners have when they speak English, it is also something English people have when they speak their own language.

If you listen to people from Surry saying the same phrase as people from Liverpool, you would think they were talking different languages. Add into this Scottish and Northern Irish accents, and there is a real jumble of pronunciation, cadence and even colloquiums. Each area has its own nuances and even odd words that people tend to throw in, which only mean something to people from the same area.

This is without even mentioning Americans with their ‘peaantz’ in a twist, because for them, that is of course trousers. This is common to every country, especially nowadays when languages are evolving and changing so quickly.

Internet abounds with ‘funny videos’ of people saying things which sound like something else to most of us, and this is certainly good for a laugh, but if you have to make sense of it for work, it can be anything but amusing.

A strong accent can cause a job to take much more time, and even mean you have to leave out words or entire sentences because you were unable to decipher them, (inserting the fact there was an incomprehensible part obviously).

If you come across an accent you find hard to follow, try listening to the recording a few times without transcribing, to see if you become acclimatised to the way the speaker talks. You can also slow down the recording to see if that helps.

If you are still in difficulty try and find out where the person is from and access an ‘accent archive’ to help you learn how people from a certain place speak.

There is no need to try talking in an accent that is not your own when making a recording as our transcribers at London Transcription are experienced in just about every accent across Britain, as well as many foreign ones too.



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