Posted by: tamara bentzur | July 7, 2009

Technically Correct is Not Always Correct


My name is Hezy – I’m Tamara’s husband. I asked her if I could write a short article for her blog because I just learned something from her about the art, if you will, of transcribing.

My area of expertise is in identity theft and its direct correlation/contribution to terrorism. My wife wanted me to read a lecture she had just finished transcribing for one of the professors she does work for. The topic in this lecture was dealing with the misconception of identity anonymity and she thought I might find it interesting.

He is a long time customer and very pleased with her service. Keep in mind; I’m reading for content, not editing purposes. About one third of the way into the document, I assumed she must have done this one late at night or during one of her crunch periods. Overall it was fine, but some of the sentence structure was a bit off and sometimes it sounded choppy, not her usual near perfect work.

Obviously I was concerned, so I asked if she had already uploaded the document, to which she replied she had. She asked, “Why?” So I told her some of the sentences had not been edited correctly. She smiled and I thought it was one of those “and now you’re an English major too?” smiles, but it wasn’t.

Turns out this particular professor was not born in the United States. He is very well respected in his field, but English is his second language so his sentence structures will be a bit different from one whose first language is English.

She went on to explain that although she does make grammatical corrections, she is protecting his “voice,” meaning she wants the transcript to be correct but it needs to sound like him, for his students who are reading it. It would be odd for them to read their professor’s lecture, which they had already attended, in perfect native English. They are accustomed to in-class lectures being in his voice, and the ideas structured in his own unique way.

I never stopped to consider that there are different levels of editing. This kind of delicate attention cannot be performed by just any transcriptionist; absolutely never by a foreign bargain transcription service. This ability comes only from a real professional, and by learning the client – over time.

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Responses

  1. Fascinating, and spot on. Nice one Hezy!

  2. Thank you Andrew. I work hard to be as technically correct as possible with my transcripts; this is usually just fine with most of them and is sometimes all I can do with a first time client. But my goal is to build long-term relationships so that I can learn about my clients – how they speak, as well as their industry. This way I am better able to give their transcripts more than just correct grammar; I imbue them with my client’s voice. It makes for much more interesting reading as well. 🙂


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