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BBC News 10 oclock 15th Jan - poor transcript

 
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percyff



Joined: 14 Jan 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Isle of Wight, UK

Post Post subject: BBC News 10 oclock 15th Jan - poor transcript Reply with quote

I was intrigued that while listening to the audio diary of the shot sergeant in Iraq, the sub-titles on the screen did not match in several ways the speech. Are the BBC correcting the grammar? Are they subtly 'improving' the text for us? Why not - if sub-titles are needed (doubtful) - transcribe exactly what was said?

It brings into doubt any other transcript from this esteemed (?) organisation.
Fri Jan 16, 2004 9:22 am
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ADM



Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 17
Location: Edinburgh

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't get too worried about the transcripts (although I would never take a TV programme's transcription as an accurate record of what was said on screen, either).

The transcripts are usually generated from the text that has been typed up by the BBC's subtitlers who are there primarily to provide a service to the deaf. When doing the subtitles for live stuff, they have to work incredibly quickly and make frequent mistakes. They have a lot of shortforms that are expanded by their computers as well -- if they enter the wrong shortform, the wrong expansion comes out on screen, which can have occasionally hilarious results. (I know all this because a friend of mine got an interview for a job as one of the typist-people).

The subtitles for recorded stuff are done ahead of time, of course. However, it's probably the same people who are doing them.

The reason why the subtitles won't match the speech exactly is that it would be terribly tiring to read a verbatim transcript of casual speech, with all of the repetitions, irrelevances, "like"s and "you know"s and so on. I should think that it's especially important that transcripts miss out all of that kind of stuff, as they're often pretty tedious to read anyway.

I have no doubt that it *would* be possible for the BBC to edit their transcripts for propaganda purposes, but, given the bang-up job that the news programmes already do in that regard, why would they need to?
Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:26 pm
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ruzz



Joined: 14 Jan 2004
Posts: 2
Location: cymru/gwalia, sol iii

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

I was under the impression that this was material drawn from his diary, in which case, there is next to no need to edit out speech related irrelevances and repetitions etc. since they don't exist.

And, if it was an "audio" diary, I'd still want such emotive material as verbatim as possible, personally.
Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:51 pm
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ADM



Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 17
Location: Edinburgh

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

The extracts were from his taped messages to his wife. I haven't seen the transcript, so I don't know how much it had been edited. I only want to point out that it's natural --indeed, preferable from a reader's point of view-- for a written version of something to differ from a spoken version. I know what you mean when you say that you would like to see the emotion coming across and so on, but, as I said, if you have to read a lot of verbatim text, you quickly tire of it.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that if I wanted to release a speech or an interview that I'd rather people didn't read, I'd make it as verbatim as possible. (Or, in verbatim style: "Well, I think that, in fact, I'm pretty sure, sort of, that if I was-- if I thought-- if I wanted to put out some speech or interview or something like that, you know, if I didn't want any-- if I'd rather that people didn't read the whole thing, I'd make it as close-- as verbatim as possible.")

Again, I'm not saying that at wouldn't suit someone's purpose to edit something out of a transcript or "tidy it up" so that its true meaning was lost, but I think that, given that the readership of transcripts is so small compared to the audience of a television show, the propaganda machine will come into effect earlier in the chain.
Fri Jan 16, 2004 3:44 pm
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ruzz



Joined: 14 Jan 2004
Posts: 2
Location: cymru/gwalia, sol iii

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

ADM, I wasn't disagreeing with your points. In general, I'd agree with you. However, in this one case (and there may be others) where, by it's very nature, we're dealing with anecdotal and subjective material which is intended to impart "what it's really like here", I'd suggest that just about *any* editing/massaging will remove or "water down" the man's gut reaction to the situation in which he found himself just prior to his death.

The BBC (and anyone else) are not helping anyone by trying to "improve" upon the man's choice of words. Surely, the message should be heard "warts and all"?
Fri Jan 16, 2004 4:37 pm
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ADM



Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 17
Location: Edinburgh

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a fair point. I agree that, as it's an emotive story, the transcript should try to convey as much emotion as possible. Who knows if it did, though? Not us two, as we haven't read it! Percyff, the initiator of this thread has read it, but he isn't saying much...

In actual fact, I'm just posting today to try to make myself use this new board, which I don't like at all but I suppose I ought to get used to. I expect it will seem normal soon enough.

ADM
Fri Jan 16, 2004 4:55 pm
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percyff



Joined: 14 Jan 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Isle of Wight, UK

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

. . . wish I'd had a VCR to hand at the time - two things though - the speaker used the word 'because' and the transcript did not, second the transcript added 'just' when the speaker did not. There were a few more, but that is all I can remember.
Sat Jan 17, 2004 10:28 am
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percyff



Joined: 14 Jan 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Isle of Wight, UK

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

- I have written to Richard Sambrook, but am not holding my breath.
Thu Jan 22, 2004 5:14 pm
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