What is Transcription? Not Just Transcription
What is transcription? I work at a transcription service, so naturally I’ve given a lot of thought to the meaning of transcription. The word transcribe is used in many fields. But what does it mean? What is transcription? Because it’s used so widely and in such varied circumstances it can be hard to see exactly what it means. What do all the different meanings have in common?
In addition to the common kinds of transcription we are familiar with in a transcription service – corporate transcription, legal transcription, academic and government agency transcription, etc. – you can transcribe music, transcribe information from a photograph, transcribe hieroglyphs, and in genetics, DNA is transcribed into RNA. A general definition might be to ‘represent something in written or printed form.’ In genetics this would mean the RNA is seen as the ‘written’ form of the information in the DNA. Embedded in the word ‘transcription’ is the understanding that the information which is transcribed already existed in a different form.
We will go into more detail on the various and sundry meanings in future posts, but here’s the question: what is transcription? And here are some answers. Here are a few meanings of transcribe:
- put thoughts, speech or information into written, printed or typed form
- copy handwritten documents into typed form
- transliterate foreign characters or shorthand into familiar characters or full sentences
- arrange a piece of music for a different instrument or group of instruments
- synthesize a nucleic acid by using an existing nucleic acid as a template, thus copying genetic information
- transfer information from one source onto another format, such as adding photographic information to a map
A transcription service is in the business of converting speech to text, as in the first definition. But more on that in other posts!
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