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Appendix 1: Transcription Conventions

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Transcription conventions

Different analysts highlight different features of talk as being important to their research purposes. Consequently, there are several published sets of transcription conventions available. Having said this, I have found the following conventions to be particularly useful: they can almost certainly be profitably used for a number of purposes. They are essentially those outlined by (Levinson, 1983, pp. 369-370), with some minor modifications (Williamson, 1995).

Main Conventions:


micropause (comparable perhaps to an average syllable duration) <0.5 sec


brief pause >0.5 s <1.0 s


pause >1.0 s <1.5 s


longer pause in seconds


point at which the current utterance is overlapped by that transcribed below


asterisks indicate the alignment of the points where overlap ceases


relatively high volume


analytical labels


lengthened syllables or speech sounds

glottal stop, self editing marker

= =

latched utterances, with no gap


not a punctuation mark but a rising intonation contour

(( ))

used to indicate some phenomenon that the transcriber does not want to struggle with or some non vocal action

( )

uncertain passages of transcript


draws attention to location of phenomenon of direct interest to discussion


indicates an audible out-breath


indicates an audible in breath

Supplementary Conventions:

Capital letters are not used except for proper nouns (e.g. Sunday, Graham), the 1st person pronoun, I (e.g. where should I go), and for indicating relatively high volume and analytical labels as set out above.

Punctuation marks are not used, with the exception of the apostrophe (e.g. Baljeets; youve; theyll).

Line numbers in transcription extracts are referred to using the notation Lx, where L stands for ‘line’ and x is the relevant number. Thus, L01 refers to line number one and L25 refers to line number twenty-five, and so on.


Levinson, S.C. (1983) Pragmatics Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williamson, G. (1995) Instructor-trainee conversation in an Adult Training Centre for people with learning disabilities: an analysis of the function and distribution of back channel tokens and personal names Unpublished PhD thesis. Newcastle, UK: University of Newcastle.