Global Lingo Blog

Scottish MPs confuse Hansard Transcribers

You’d think being a Transcriber would be an easy job. Sitting in meetings, listening and then typing what you’ve heard.

That’s easy, isn’t it?

Here’s a quick test. Try listening and typing exactly what’s said in this clip of Steve Cram.

Steve Cram interview MP3 (MP3 opens in a new window).

How did you do? Get everything? Are you sure?

This is what transcribers do all day, every day and it’s no easy task, which is why experienced transcribers are such a vital asset.

The interview with Steve Cram was pretty clear, with not much additional noise and definitely no shouting in the background. So spare a thought for the Hansard transcriber who asked Scottish MP, Jim Sheridan, why he made a reference to the SNP, calling them “big fairies”. What he actually said was “big fearties”.

MP Pamela Nash revealed the note on her twitter feed.

Pamela Nash MP's Tweet about the transcribers misunderstanding

Mr Sheridan explained to the transcriber: “No big fearties Scottish ref to people who are frightened.”

Jim Sheridan said: “It was quite funny – it’s not a word used in England. Sometimes it’s hard for the Hansard shorthand reporters to understand all the people with different accents, like the Geordies too. They often seek clarification unless you speak with an exceptionally posh voice.”

Transcription is a vital service

When you need to capture every point that’s made, transcription is a vital service. As you’ve now discovered, listening and writing accurately what you can hear is a difficult job. When transcribing meetings where there are several people in attendance, with differing accents and speech volume levels, keeping track of the proceedings can be very tough.

When asked for their comments on the above blunder, a Global Lingo writer said, ‘It’s simply impossible to know the jargon of ‘everywhere’. I just hope that, if I do make an error, it doesn’t offend anyone. No amount of research can solve the mystery of some of the words I’ve heard!’

With thanks to Deadline News for the original article and Lee Jackson for the interview with Steve Cram

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