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Book Report: “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

 

Just another note about the physicist Richard Feynman and transcription.  I was reading some of the stories in “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”  Adventures of a Curious Character, a book of transcripts of anecdotes Feynman told about his life and various kinds of mischief he got into.  The stories were told to Ralph Leighton, the transcriber, while he and Feynman played the drums together, and then transcribed on a typewriter.

In one story Feynman talks about loving the sound of Italian, and spontaneously speaking fake Italian back to people who call to him in Italian!  Nobody seems to notice or mind that the words aren’t real–it sounded like Italian, and that seemed to be enough!  It’s a funny tale.  And the transcript highlights the spoken nature of the story and conveys the way it was told, by using capital letters to emphasize syllables.  This simple device captures the rolling sound of the fake Italian beautifully. Just by reading, you can hear in your mind the enthusiasm of Feynman for the sounds, and easily imagine him telling it aloud.

 

Ellen Park

Famous Transcripts