How Linguistic Transcription is Performed in Vietnamese


1-StopAsia - How Linguistic Transcription is Performed in Vietnamese


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Linguistic transcription is the act of converting audio or video speech into text. However, it is a lot more than just listening and typing it down. The recording needs to be of high quality and easy to understand to help with the creation of the linguistic transcription. Transcribing accurately and with good quality takes a lot of time, even for a professional. In our article, we will talk about the different types of linguistic transcription so you can better understand the differences between them and decide which is the correct one for you. We will also look at the specifics of linguistic transcription when it comes to the Vietnamese language. And by the end of your read, you should be aware of its importance in today’s world.

Types of linguistic transcription

There are a few different types of transcription in linguistics, each of them with its own pros and cons. Choosing the correct type of transcription for your content largely depends on its purpose, so make sure to learn more about them before making your decision.

Verbatim transcription

Verbatim transcription is the speech from video and audio recordings converted into text. This includes every single sound that can be heard, including sighs, panting, and even a door creaking. In comparison, non-verbatim transcription can leave background noises and laughter out. You can probably see how this type of linguistic transcription can be highly valuable for deaf people and will give them the opportunity to catch every little detail of given video content.

There is also intelligent verbatim transcription which means unnecessary fillers are edited out, this of course depends on the context and requires a lot more attention to detail to decide which noise to include or not. On top of that, words that might have been incorrectly pronounced are written out correctly. Sometimes completely different sentences can be created as long as they convey the same meaning or information, but in a way that is more easily understood. Basically a cleaner and shorter transcription with no fillers and distractions. This is perfect for a business environment, medical diagnosis, or even documentaries.

Phonetic transcription

Phonetic transcription indicates the proper pronunciation of words using phonetic symbols. An example with the Vietnamese language, whose alphabet consists of 29 letters, however, there are up to 48 phonemes, depending on the dialect. The phonemes are the tiniest difference in the speech that can make one word different from another, this includes tones and dialects.

But you here to understand when phonetic transcription is appropriate. One of the best examples is an old-time movie where some of the words used might not be pronounced the same way as in modern times. As it has been happening with every language around the world, people like to omit certain sounds and simplify words. Another example is different dialects, there are 4 phonemes exclusive to the northern Vietnamese dialect. If you wish to take note of this differentiation of the spoken words, use phonetic transcription.

Edited transcription

With edited transcription, you get flawless text, void of grammatical errors and one that has been carefully written for better readability. This means there are no gibberish, slang or half-assed sentences. This type of linguistic transcription is perfect for businesses that have their products translated into different languages, desktop publishing, as well as books and other reading materials.

Linguistic transcription for Vietnamese

Now that we have the different types of transcription out of the way we can talk about the specifics of linguistic transcription for the Vietnamese language. Tonal languages have always been a point of interest for linguists and Vietnamese is not an exception. Phonetic transcription helps greatly with the study and research of languages. More often than not the letters do not fully explain the exact pronunciation. Furthermore, there isn’t a recognized phonetic system for linguistic transcription of the Vietnamese language.

Linguistics IPA transcription (International Phonetic Alphabet) is the standard for many languages, however, with Vietnamese (and even other tonal languages), various other systems of phonetic notation may be required for obvious reasons. Even more so, Vietnamese pronunciation differs between the different regions, as we discussed earlier there are 4 unique phonemes just for the northern dialect. Here we have a specific transcription linguistics example on a discourse analysis of transcription symbols from the article “A question on phonetic transcription of Vietnamese” that was presented at ISKMC 2020 – International Scientific “Congress Knowledge, Man and Civilization”.

“In most areas in northern Vietnam, the initial consonants d, gi, and r have the same pronunciation. In the literary standard, their pronunciation is [z] for d and ɡi, [ʐ] for r (Đoàn, 1976). In the northern (Hanoi) version their pronunciation is [z] for all three. In the southern version, they can be transcribed as [j] for d and ɡi, [ɻ], [ɾ] or [ʐ] for r (Alves, 2007; Hoàng, 2009; Nguyễn, 1995).”

This has led to a variety of linguistic transcriptions for Vietnamese, which all differ. There is still no consensus on the quality and quantity of sounds among linguists.

The importance of transcription

Transcription is an important part of our everyday lives, even if you do not realize it, it is everywhere!

It makes content and information easily accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. Provides us with subtitles and closed captions so that we can watch our favorite Korean drama and is an important part of translation. Easily an important part of businesses in the medical, media, and legal fields. But you also saw that it is not the easiest of endeavors, so make sure to go with professionals who have plenty of experience with linguistic transcription of Asian languages!

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Nikola Stoyanov

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