Representing Simultaneity in Polychannel Linguistic Events

Representing Simultaneity in Polychannel Linguistic Events: A Multitrack Method for Transcription

Noah C. G. Johnson



Despite the advances in audio and video recording that have been made in the last century and the implications of the more recent advent of the internet and other information sharing systems, the study of linguistic anthropology requires us from time to time to present reproductions of recorded linguistic events in a textual format – a transcript. In addition, transcripts can also prove invaluable during analysis, making clear what we miss in the auditory or visual reproductions of a recording device. And yet, the transcript is not a neutral tool but, like a lens, it has the ability to distort everything that is seen through its paradigm. A discourse-centered approach to the study of language advocates that we seek to investigate linguistic events that occur in natural, dynamic and often messy situations. Unfortunately, our transcription methods, though now greatly bolstered by sophisticated technology, still lack methodological robustness when applied to polychannel interactions – or conversations involving multiple speakers – which are often typified by interruptions or overlapping. In this article, a method of transcription that relies upon the same organizing logic as multitrack recording is proposed, the process by which this method was developed is explained and additional directions for future research are suggested.

Keywords: transcription, multitrack, overlap, linguistics, methodology

Download Full Text – Johnson 2013


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