Transcription guidelines

General principles

Transcription is the systematic representation of language in written form, based on the utterances of speakers. In order to protect endangered languages, our Commission encourages all speakers (individuals and communities) to write their language in a simple system and find the utmost consensus to make written products accessible to as many people as possible. In addition to popular transcription for widespread use, there are scientific transcriptions that aim to provide accurate documentation and to make the data comparable. For this purpose, VLACH follows the phonetic principles of the International Phonetic Alphabet in the subtitles of its videos. Since many different regional traditions and models exist worldwide, there are numerous deviations of the transcription systems, which is why, in the following, common principles for all transcriptions on VLACH are first compiled. After that you will find the transcription principles and examples for each language. Our main principles when making scientific transcriptions are as follows:

  1. We write what we hear: Texts are transcribed as they sound in the utterances of the speakers.
  2. Pronounciation errors are usually not corrected.
  3. Slang words and regionalisms are kept as used.
  4. We avoid italics and bold.
  5. We do not use more than one space between words.
  6. We do not use the tab button. 
  7. Sentences begin with capital letter and end with a punctuation mark.
  8. We do not use abbreviations and numbers in the original language, but write the way they are pronounced.
  9. As the names and roles of our interviewed persons are known in the metadata, we do not mention the speakers in the subtitles.
  10. Mentioning sound events and body language is optional.

Common symbols in all languages

Common symbols in all languages

´Main stress: ✎ dáyroom
`Secondary stress: ✎ ìntonátion
˝Stress with emphasis: ✎ My gőd, that-s me̋!
ːLength: ✎ gooːd!
In case of extreme length, esp. in songs, the symbol can be repeated: ✎ tralaláːːː
Alternatively, lenght may be indicated also by repetition of a letter: ✎ tralaláá
Attention: this symbol (ː) is not a colon (:).
" "Introduction of concept, technical term or very unusual word. An English equivalent or explanation may be added in the translation in round brackets:
✎ She invited us to their "wigwam" (dwelling) and we drunk until the morning. 
< >  Direct speech. Punctuation is to be introduced within the direct speech signs and after when the direct speech is embedded:
✎ Mary then told Peter: <Go and ring the bells!>.
✎ <Please come back!> Anna said.
Internal dialogues are seen as direct quotations as well:
✎ And then I thought to myself: <What if I can't make it?>
[?]Not deciphered segment; impossible to hear what is being said; to be indicated in original languages and translation:
✎ We went to a really [?] club.
[...] Omission of not relevant segment. This symbol should be used as rare as possible. For longer omission, the duration in seconds can be mentioned: ✎ [...10 sec...]
[ ]Introductions of the annotator in the original text or the translation:
(a) omissions: ✎ Today [we don’t prepare] neither meatballs nor anything else.
(b) giving wider accepted form: ✎He was talking a load of gobbledygook [nonsense].
(c) corrections for better understanding: ✎ All of chai mildren [my children]
(d) notes on sound events and body language: ✎ [laughs] [coughs] [crosstalk] [applause] [phone ringing] [dial tone] [nervous] [uncertain] [whisper]
( )(a) phoneme reduced in quantity: ✎ ri(n)g, when ‘n’ can hardly be heard. 
(b) not pronounced elements, necessary for understanding:
✎ we came by air(plane)
(c) confusing repetitions:
✎ <Ye-, yes,> he said, <he will go>, he said, <tomorrow.> can be reproduced as:
✎ <() yes,> he said, <he will go () tomorrow.>
-(a) pair words: ✎ pot-belly
(b) contraction (in some languages): ✎ s-o dus (Romanian: he went)
(c) additional morphemes (in songs, poetry, colloquial speech): ✎ I am singing-ing.
Also stuttering we recommend to indicate like this: ✎ Why is this m-m-moist?
(d) change of speaker: ✎ How are you? - Fine!
--(a) unfinished word (-- without white space):
✎ Most of them were rent--
The adding of the assumed missing elements is optional:
✎ Most of them were rent[ing]--
(b) unfinished idea (␣--␣ with white space):
✎ We went to -- and forgot to take the keys.
---unfinished sentence (␣--- with white space):
✎ Most of them had no ---
ǁ::ǁelements between these symbols are repeated:
✎ And so he killed the dragon ǁ: and fled to the forest :ǁ
= And so he killed the dragon and fled to the forest, and fled to the forest.
✎ ǁ: And so he killed the dragon, :ǁ: and fled to the forest :ǁ
= And so he killed the dragon, and so he killed the dragon, and fled to the forest, and fled to the forest.
  
 

Further punctuation marks such as commas, semi-colons, exclamation marks and question marks, when outside the square brackets, are used as in standard punctuation.

 

As for the spelling of geographical names, we follow UNGEGN recommendations and geonames. Where there are usual exonym forms in English language, we prefer them (e.g. Athens instead of Athina).

 

Names of persons are written in the form the speaker prefers to be published.

 

IPA symbols

IPA symbols

IPA  listen  phonetic description
anear-open central unrounded vowel
ɐopen front unrounded vowel
ãopen front unrounded nasal vowel
ɑopen back unrounded vowel
ɒopen back rounded vowel
ænear-open front unrounded vowel
ʌopen-mid back unrounded vowel
bvoiced bilabial plosive
ɓvoiced bilabial implosive
ʙbilabial trill
βvoiced bilabial approximant
cvoiceless palatal plosive
çvoiceless palatal fricative
ɕvoiceless alveolo-palatal sibilant
dvoiced alveolar plosive
ɗvoiced alveolar implosive
ɖvoiced retroflex stop
ðvoiced dental fricative
d͡zvoiced alveolar sibilant affricate
d͡ʒvoiced palato-alveolar affricate
d̠͡ʑvoiced alveolo-palatal affricate
ɖ͡ʐvoiced retroflex affricate
eclose-mid front unrounded vowel
ɛ̃close-mid front unrounded nasal vowel
əmid central vowel 
ɘclose-mid central unrounded vowel
ɛopen-mid front unrounded vowel
ɜopen-mid central unrounded vowel
fvoiceless labiodental fricative
ɸvoiceless bilabial fricative
ɡvoiced velar plosive
ɠvoiced velar implosive
ɢvoiced uvular stop
ʛvoiced uvular implosive
ɣvoiced velar fricative
hvoiceless glottal fricative
ħvoiceless glottal fricative
ɦvoiceless pharyngeal fricative
ɧvoiced glot
ʜvoiceless dorso-palatal velar fricative
iclose front unrounded vowel
ɨclose central unrounded vowel
ɪnear-close near-front unrounded vowel
jpalatal approximant
ʝvoiced palatal fricative
ɟvoiced palatal plosive
ʄvoiced palatal implosive
kvoiceless velar plosive
k͡x voiceless velar affricate
lalveolar lateral approximant
ɫvelarized alveolar lateral approximant
ɬvoiceless lateral fricative
ɭretroflex lateral approximant
ʟvelar lateral approximant
ɮvoiced lateral fricative
ʎpalatal lateral approximant
mbilabial nasal
ɱlabiodental nasal
nalveolar nasal
ɲpalatal nasal
ŋvelar nasal
ɳretroflex nasal
ɴuvular nasal
oclose-mid back rounded vowel
ɔ̃open-mid back rounded nasal vowel 
ɵclose-mid central rounded vowel
øclose-mid front rounded vowel
ɞopen-mid central rounded vowel
œopen-mid front rounded vowel
œ̃open-mid front rounded nasal vowel
ɶopen front rounded vowel
ɔopen-mid back rounded vowel
ɤclose-mid back unrounded vowel
pvoiceless bilabial plosive
p͡fvoiceless labiodental affricate
qvoiceless uvular plosive
ralveolar trill
ɾalveolar tap
ɺalveolar lateral flap
ɽretroflex flap
ɹalveoar approximant
ɻretroflex approximant
ʀuvular fricative
ʁvoiced uvular fricative
 voiced palatal vibrant
svoiceless alveolar sibilant
ʂvoiceless retroflex sibilant
ʃvoiceless palato-alveolar sibilant
s͡f voiceless labio-dental alveolar fricative
tvoiceless alveolar plosive
ʈvoiceless retroflex stop
θvoiceless dental fricative
t͡svoiceless alveolar sibilant affricate
t͡ʃvoiceless palato-alveolar affricate
t̠͡ɕvoiceless alveolo-palatal affricate
ʈ͡ʂvoiceless retroflex affricate
uclose back rounded vowel
ʉclose central rounded vowel
ʊnear-close near-back rounded vowel
vvoiced labiodental fricative
 semi-voiced labio-dental fricative
ʋlabiodental approximant
ѵlabiodental flap
wvoiced labio-velar approximant
ʍvoiceless labio-velar fricative
ɯclose back unrounded vowel
ɰvoiced velar approximant
xvoiceless velar fricative
χvoiceless uvular fricative
yclose front rounded vowel
ʏnear-close near-front rounded vowel
ɥlabial-palatal approximant
zvoiced alveolar sibilant
ʑvoiced alveolo-palatal sibilant
ʐvoiced retroflex sibilant
ʒvoiced palato-alveolar sibilant
z͡v voiced labio-dental alveolar fricative
ʔglottal stop
ʡvoiceless epiglottal plosive
ʕvoiced pharyngeal fricative
ʢvoiced epiglottal fricative
ʘbilabial click
ǀdental click
ǂpalatoalveolar click
ǁalveolar lateral click
ǃpostalveolar click