Transcription Services: The Influential History


Transcription services are paramount in the digital age, however, transcription has been around and documented since the 4th century BC. The first form of transcription was preserved in ancient Egyptian pyramids and temples in the form of hieroglyphics. In the form of physical documentation, scribes worked in kings’ courts to record history and laws since 3400 BCE – and these transcriptions are one of the reasons why we have an accurate record of history today.


In the 15th century, the birth of the Renaissance movement exponentially broadened what it meant to be a scribe, and transcription was made more accessible and expansive. Transcription has been an integral component of humanity’s growth, communication, and – in the modern era – virtuosity.


In this article, we will take a deeper look into what transcription is, the types of transcription available today, and how transcription services have impacted history. Lastly, we will delve into our work at the International Language Consultancy (ILC) and how our professional and experienced transcription services can offer detailed assistance to best match your needs.




What Is Transcription?


Since transcription has so much to do with the written word, the best way to define it is to look at its etymology. Transcription comes from the Latin root word ‘scriba’, which can be translated to ‘scribe’. Scribe is also seen as the shortening of ‘describe’.


Scribe, describe, and transcribe became the evolution of copying text, writing, or transferring records. In its most simple explanation, to transcribe something is to transfer information or data from one form into another – namely written text.


Transcription is the process of making written copies, records, or documents of verbal communication. For example, verbal communication is conducted, and transcription services are done after the matter to write down and record the dedicated speech. This includes both short and long-form records. For instance, when you make notes in a meeting or lecture, you are transcribing what is being said in short-form. Whereas in court cases, for example, long-form transcription is done so that a thorough record is kept. Every line is written after being recorded on tape, and transcription is the technique of writing what is recorded in that instance.


Transcription also refers to the phonetic or visual symbols used to represent speech or dialogue. This is why hieroglyphics, and even cave paintings, are forms of transcription. You are transferring data and information in fundamental dialogues and experiences into written and visual forms. Transcription has played a role in ensuring we have a history to look back on, and interpretations we can trust of the lived experience of the eras before our own. In our own era, transcription is used in almost everything you engage with daily. Something as simple as closed captions on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube involve transcription.


When you see a text over a video that, in real-time, captures what is being said, that text has been transcribed from video and verbal form, to written form. This is not only beneficial if you want to read what is being said, but it is also incredibly inclusive of disabilities that may hinder audio comprehension. Transcription has transcended just documentation and is a vital part of our history. It is an interactive tool that allows us to reach more people and be more inclusive with content.


Beyond accessibility, transcription brings about protection. Law enforcement transcribers, court reporters, legal transcriptionists, and corporate transcribers all play a role in creating accurate and factually-correct records. These records can be used for research, publications, business ventures, and emergencies related to public safety. The purpose of transcription services is often indispensable.


Moreover, transcription in the modern era does more than just record dialogue; transcription service providers can also edit written content to ensure it meets the language, syntax, and grammar rules in its appropriate language.




Historical Influence Of Transcription


From hieroglyphics, paper and pen, to typewriters and computers, transcription has a long history. We have already unpacked where transcription can be seen in history, and now we will take a look at its influence. Without transcription in its many forms, history would be unknown, and some of the greatest published works of our era and translation itself would not have been possible without transcriptions. Transcription is what has preserved stories from century to century, and is what keeps us connected beyond the practical implications.


Here are some of the most notable transcribed works in mankind’s history:


Religious Texts: Every religious text was once an oral account, and transcription is what allowed the physical documentation of the Bible, Qur’an, Gita, Torah, Guru Granth Sahib, and the Tripitaka. All of these religious texts were also able to be translated into other languages because they were initially transcribed.


Philosophy: The basis of politics, humanities, and education was founded by philosophers. The first ever known university was established by Aristotle in Greece. Without transcription, we would not have the ideas and discussions of some of the first established schooling systems. Essentially, education as we know it has grown and developed because of transcription.


Poetry: Some of the most influential literary works, such as Homer’s The Iliad and Odyssey, exist purely because of transcription. The changing of myth into documented poetry has changed our literary world forever and allowed us to admire and learn from the creatives before us.


Types Of Transcription


There are three primary types of transcription services: verbatim, clean verbatim, and non-verbatim – all of which are offered by us, here at ILC.


Verbatim Transcription: Verbatim can be defined as ‘word-for-word’, and verbatim transcription is just that. Verbatim transcription offers an unedited text format of an audio or video file. A verbatim transcription service does not edit the transcription to do away with any errors made by the speaker who is being recorded. Any and all grammatical, language, and syntax issues remain. The direct speech of those talking is used rather than a contextualised account.


Colloquial and slang phrases are kept as is without paraphrasing. Even exclamations and interjections are included in this type of transcription service. Every hesitation, gasp, laugh, and interjection is captured and recorded. This means the subject matter is true to what is being said, and is now accessible in text form. This transcription service is most commonly used for research, interviews, focus groups, and legal statements.


Clean Verbatim or Intelligent Verbatim Transcription: Clean verbatim transcription is a slightly edited version of a verbatim transcription. This means that any hesitations, unintentional contributions, disruptions, and other noise are removed. No paraphrasing of actual dialogue is done, however, unnecessary context and disruptive content are removed for clarity. The substance and tone of the speaker are not altered, and the content stays true to the subjects – however, this type of transcription service makes it easier to understand the intent of the speaker or dialogue without distractions or irrelevant information.


It is best to hire trained professionals to undertake this type of transcription as they are able to use the proper discretion and skills to determine what is and is not relevant, without altering the speaker’s verbal expression exponentially. This type of transcription service is best suited for publications after research, or when comparing interviews.




Edited or Non-verbatim Transcription: Non-verbatim or edited transcription is referred to as ‘clean copy’. The document is intended to exclude all speech and information that is unnecessary or impacts the readability of the text. Redundancy, colloquial and slang phrases, incoherent statements, and interjections are removed. You are left with a script that is completely grammatically correct and follows all proper language and syntax rules – conveying the meaning rather than the demeanour is the purpose of edited transcription. The dialogue becomes more accessible to a larger audience and is easier to understand and engage with. Non-verbatim transcription is often found in academia and the conscience content makes this type of transcription service valuable.


Professional Transcription Services


Investing in professional transcription services is crucial if you want to ensure you are choosing transcription styles that are best suited towards your needs. For example, if you are an academic choosing to go with verbatim transcription as opposed to edited transcription services, you could be doing a disservice to yourself and your audience.


Similarly, if you are choosing to use edited transcription for your social media and podcast platforms as opposed to verbatim transcription services, you may not be meeting your audience on their level. The experts best know how to pick a style to match your desired outcomes, and there’s no company to fulfil your brief and desires better than ILC.


At ILC, our team is highly trained and skilled in all three transcription formats. We have an incredibly fast turnaround time and can handle any custom requests and bulk jobs. Not only that, but ILC can also provide you with recording equipment rental and help with note-taking, compiling reports, summaries, and research analysis. We have a 99% accuracy rate and have experience with transcribing a plethora of audio and video content.


Here are just a few examples of where our transcription services can be applied:


  • Transcriptions of focus groups and interviews
  • Transcribing recordings of labour-related discussions for CCMA and court purposes
  • Disciplinary hearings
  • Forensic and police investigation transcripts
  • Transcribing meeting recordings
  • Dictations
  • Marketing (often involving video and podcasts)
  • Educational content (involving video transcripts)


We guarantee that our highly qualified transcribers are accurate, professional, and come at industry-leading rates. What makes ILC special is that we are one of the few consultancies offering services in all of the 11 official South African languages. We also offer international transcription services in the following languages: Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.


Additionally, we check all transcripts for accuracy and quality before it is sent back to you. If the assignment is large or requires multiple languages, ILC audits the languages, duration, and quality of audio for our clients. Clients also walk away with a certificate of accuracy in the case of transcripts required for litigation purposes. We not only verify, validate, and audit our work with an in-person team, but we also make use of some of the latest technology and AI to ensure accuracy.


This includes:


  • ExpressScribe
  • Foot pedals
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Mediahuman
  • Grammarly




Our Transcription Process


Now that you know the passion and commitment to accuracy behind ILC, let us take a look at how our transcription services work. It is a simple, seven-step method.


  1. We receive the audio file you want transcribed, which is then reviewed by our transcription manager – this manager notes the quality of the audio and the total duration of the files.
  2. When this review is completed, a quote and relevant estimate are sent back to you, the client.
  3. Once you confirm you are happy with the estimate, we confirm any specifications like speaker names, industry colloquialisms, and formatting,
  4. Audio files are then transcribed according to this information and proofread in a document to ensure we are accurate and both meet and exceed your expectations.
  5. We then send you the file for approval.
  6. Finally, we upload files onto a platform of your choice and include timestamps if required.


International Language Consultancy: Transcription Services


ILC is passionate, experienced, and a renowned specialist in transcription services. Our highly trained team is ready to assist you with a quick turnaround and world-class expertise. Get in touch for a complimentary consultation and let us help you with all your transcription needs today!