Trascription in practice: nonstandard orthography
Transcriptions of spoken data are a central element of much applied linguistic research, serving both as the basis for large-scale corpora used by multiple analysts, and as one of the primary ways in which spoken data is presented in scholarly work. This article applies a political and ideological perspective to the analysis of a specific aspect of transcriptional practice that is seldom given much attention: the use of nonstandard orthography. While orthographic choices are often treated as neutral, transparent or trivial dimensions of applied linguistics transcripts, a review of the literature shows that nonstandard orthographies covertly attribute sociolinguistic stigma to those they represent. It goes on to explore in detail the sociolinguistic and pragmatic information value of nonstandard orthography in transcriptions, considering issues of predictability, consistency, intertextuality, and audience and readers’ interpretive frameworks. The conclusions argue for recognition among applied linguists of the representational work done by nonstandard orthographies and hence, for very selective, principled and explicitly flagged uses of these spellings in academic corpora and transcripts.
Author: Alexandra M Jaffe
Androutsopoulos, J. (2000) Non-standard spellings in media texts: the case of German
fanzines. Journal of Sociolinguistics 4(4): 514–533.
Bauman, R. and Briggs, C. (1990) Poetics and performance as critical perspectives on
language and social life. Annual Review of Anthropology 19: 59–88.
Bucholtz, M. (2000) The politics of transcription. Journal of Pragmatics 32: 1439–1465.
Bucholtz, M. (2003) Sociolinguistic nostalgia and the authentication of identity. Journal of
Sociolinguistics 7(3): 398–416.
Chafe, W. (2005) Adequacy, user-friendliness, and practicality in transcribing. Paper presented
at the Conference ‘Transcribing now: means and meanings in the transcription
of spoken interaction’. University of California, Santa Barbara, 15 May.
Coupland, N. (2003) Sociolinguistic authenticities. Journal of Sociolinguistics 7(3):
Eckert, P. (2003) Elephants in the room. Journal of Sociolinguistics 7(3): 392–397.
Hill, J. (1995) Junk Spanish, covert racism and the leaky boundary between public and
private spheres. Pragmatics 5: 197–212.
Hill, J. (2005) Intertextuality as source and evidence for indirect indexical meanings.
Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 15(1): 113–124.
Jaffe, A. (2000) Introduction: nonstandard orthography and nonstandard speech. Journal
of Sociolinguistics 4(4): 497–513.
Jaffe, A. and Walton, S. (2000) The voices people read: orthography and the representation
of nonstandard speech. Journal of Sociolinguistics 4(4): 561–587.
Jefferson, G.(1996) A case of transcriptional stereotyping. Journal of Pragmatics 26:
Jordan, J. (1985) Nobody mean more to me than you and the future life of Willie Jordan.
In J. Jordan (ed.) On Call: political essays 123–139. Boston: South End Press.
Kataoka, K. (1997) Affect and letter writing: unconventional conventions in casual writing
by young Japanese women. Language in Society 26: 103–136.
Macaulay, R. (1991) ‘Coz it izny spelt when they say it’: displaying dialect in writing.
American Speech 6(3): 280–291.
Minnick, L. (2004) Performing southernness. Paper presented at Conference on Language
Variety in the South III, 15–17 April 2004, Tuscaloosa AL.
Nguyen, J. (forthcoming) Transcription as methodology: using transcription tasks to
assess language attitudes. Paper presented at NWAV 32.
Ochs, E. (1979) Transcription as theory. In E. Ochs and B. Schieffelin (eds) Developmental
Pragmatics 43–52. New York: Academic Press.
Olivo, W. (2001) Phat lines: spelling conventions in rap music. Written Language and
Literacy 4(1): 67–85.
Pramaggiorre, M. (2003) ‘Y’all makin’ mah ea-uhs huht: for all the authentic rusticity of
Cold Mountain and Big Fish, why can’t we get a decent southern accent?’ Independent
Weekly: 13 December.
Preston, D. (1982) ‘Ritin’ fowklower daun ‘rong’: folklorists’ failures in phonology. Journal
of American Folklore 95: 304–316.
Preston, D. (1985) The L’il Abner syndrome: written representations of speech. American
Speech 60(4): 328–336.
Smitherman, G. (1977) Talkin’ and Testifyin’: the language of Black America. Boston:
Urban, G. (1996) Entextualization, replication and power. In M. Silverstein and G. Urban
(eds) Natural Histories of Discourse 21–44. Chicago: Chicago University Press.