Commentary: transcript variations and the indexicality of transcribing practices

Discourse Studies 9 (6):809-821 (2007)
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Abstract

In this commentary, I consider variability as an ordinary and irremediable feature related to the indexicality not only of transcripts but first of all of transcribing. In this sense, it is not just a characteristic of transcripts as texts, which can be assessed in a kind of philological comparison comparing formal features of autonomous and fixed textual objects, but a characteristic of transcribing as a situated practice. Practices are irremediably indexical, reflexively tied to the context of their production and to the practical purposes of their accomplishment. Thus, a transcript is an evolving flexible object; it changes as the transcriber engages in listening and looking again at the tape, endlessly checking, revising, reformatting it. Transcribing relies in a fundamental way not only on the possibility of fixing the relevant details in a complex multilayered representation but also on the possibility of manipulating them, playing them again and again, at different paces, positions, fragments, while transcribing their finely tuned coordination, their synchronization, the fine articulation between different projections and sequential implicativenesses. These manipulations are one of the ways in which transcribing is accomplished as a situated practice.

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