Step 1: Transcribe
Let us begin by assuming that you have audio-recorded a conversation. Naturalistic data is the bedrock of conversation analysis, so we will use a short extract from a real world, 10-minute conversation that I recorded several years ago in order to exemplify the procedure. The conversation was between two adult males and took place in a private workplace office, with no one else present.
Transcribe the data
The first thing to do is process the conversational data so that it is amenable to examination. We do this by transcribing the audio data into written form. Using the transcription conventions set out in Appendix 1, this results in the following extract.
Extract 1. Conversation between Tom and Jim.
01 Tom: it’s nice though ’cause I mean I’ve I’ve
02 been various places in Spain (.) for two weeks
03 Jim: mm
04 Tom: and er: erm you know it’s okay
05 Jim: yeah
06 Tom: the food’s reasonable (..) the
07 things are: (.) //a li*ttle
08 Jim: mm
09 Tom: bit (.) a tiny bit more expensive (..) like they cost
10 a few pesetas //and th*at
11 Jim: yeah
12 Tom: it’s like a hundred and seventy five pesetas to the
14 Jim: yeah
15 Tom: but I mean (.) I’m sure Yvette can handle that
16 Jim: yeah
17 Tom: the things that are luxuries //like*
18 Jim: yeah
19 Tom: Kit Kats an:d //thing*s
20 Jim: yeah
21 Tom: like that (.) and cakes like that (.) //are jus*t
22 Jim: yeah
23 Tom: a tiny //bit dear*er
24 Jim: yeah
If you had access to the original audio recording, you would repeatedly listen to it and, thereby, ensure that your transcription is as accurate as possible. Repeated listening also allows you to get a feel for the nuances of the particular interaction, its dynamics, the speed of delivery, and so on. Of course, without access to the recording, you have only the above transcription to work with. Let us assume, however, that this is a reasonably accurate representation of relevant phenomena within the conversation.
The above conversation extract is reproduced in Appendix 2 for ease of use.
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