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Jefferson Transcription System – A guide to the symbols

What is the Jefferson Transcription System?

“Jeffersonian Transcription” or the “Jefferson Transcription System” is a conversational analysis code used by academics looking at speech patterns. It can also be useful for anyone trying to annotate a conversation or the style of a participant to a conversation. It takes quite a bit more time than conventional transcription and as such it usually comes at a premium cost.

Jefferson Transcription provides a method for annotating speech with details of performance, acts, texts, movement, interaction between actors, content and context.

It is not recommended for simple transcription as you will see below. Certain elements of it can assist in a range of settings – for example if you are looking for an indication of when a participant’s voice has got higher or lower – but the overall usage is really only relevant to academics looking to study conversation in some detail.

Gail Jefferson is the main force behind the system and she developed a symbol code of which details are below.

Jefferson Transcription System Symbols

(.)A micropause - a pause of no significant length.
(0.7)A timed pause - long enough to indicate a time.
[ ]Square brackets show where speech overlaps.
> <Arrows showing that the pace of speech has quickened.
< >Arrows showing that the pace of the speech has slowed down.
( )Unclear section.
(( ))An entry requiring comment but without a symbol to explain it.
UnderliningDenotes a raise in volume or emphasis.
Rise in intonation
Drop in intonation
Entered by the analyst to show a sentence of particular interest. Not usually added by the transcriber.
CAPITALSLouder or shouted words.
(h)Laughter in the conversation/speech.
=Will be at the end of one sentence and the start of the next. It indicates that there was no pause between them.
: : : Colons - indicate a stretched sound.
Table of symbols used for Jeffersonian Transcription.

If you would like Jefferson Transcription please mention it when requesting a quotation – click here.