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Court Reporter's Challenge: Building A Transcription Dictionary

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, September 08, 2010
- Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Technical depositions and court testimony can be challenging for new court reporters and court reporting students.

Court reporters begin with a basic software translation dictionary for stenotype to English. They start it in school and must build it up word by word as they take more testimony. Each grouping of stenotype strokes equals a word. The word's stroke combination must be defined in the software dictionary before it can come up in English during the translating process. The more words properly defined in the court reporter's dictionary, the faster and easier the transcription process becomes.

When adding words to a dictionary, one requirement is to enter the appropriate steno strokes needed to form the word. Sometimes court reporters will stroke a word a slightly different way, depending on how fast the speaker is or whether they recognize the word's syllables as they are being uttered. It does not matter how many different ways a word is stroked, as long as it comes up in the court reporter's dictionary when necessary. As a result, the same word may be in there two different ways, but the transcription will be correct.

One tip given to students is every time they see or hear a new word; they should learn its meaning, the proper spelling for it and what part of speech it is. Many students keep this in a notebook and transfer the words to their dictionary.

Words are sometimes abbreviated or turned into acronyms. These words are not usually included in the basic student's dictionary. Before the word can be defined and added to the dictionary, it should be verified for proper spelling. Finding the right way to spell a word can be a great challenge when someone has never heard it before. The simplest way to do this is to try different letter combinations as a starting spelling for a word. Use an online or hard copy dictionary to find it. Specialized medical or legal dictionaries are reliable resources.

Those sounds that are not recognized by the software remain in steno until they are manually changed into English. Of course, this takes longer than allowing the computer to automatically translate the text. The longer it takes to transcribe a job, the less time the court stenographer is available to take other jobs. Shorter transcription times are the key operational efficiency.

So we've arrived the "so what" of this blog post.  The Capitol Court Reporting staff is your source for the most experienced and professional court reporting staff available to you in Boston, Hartford and Providence areas.  Learn more about Capitol Court Reporting by surfing the entire web site.  Then give us a call to discuss any issue in detail. 


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