Dealing with strong regional accents in transcription
One query that regularly gets asked by our clients at universities across the UK and around the world is whether we’re able to transcribe a particularly strong regional accent. Some transcription companies, particularly if they are outsourcing offshore to India in volume operations or South African call centres, will invariably want to charge extra to transcribe any recordings that contain strong regional accents, for example a Glaswegian. Transcription companies based in the UK with specialist UK transcribers (also known as ‘transcriptionists’) transcribe English recordings at the same price regardless of the regional accent.
The difficulty with charging extra to transcribe a strong regional accent is that one person’s regional accent is another person’s norm. So for example we undertake a lot of work for the University of Dundee and the University of St. Andrew’s. Both these universities have been placing transcription orders with us for over 15 years and a good number of the interviews and research projects we transcribe are of conversations with Scottish men and women, quite often from Glasgow or Dundee. If you are not a native UK resident, you’ll probably find it virtually impossible to transcribe some of these, and the reason some transcription companies charge extra to do this is because they have to outsource the work back onshore from their offshore centres in order to provide a coherent transcription.
A transcription company with extensive experience of regional accents will naturally do this type of transcription at no extra cost, because they will have transcribers very used to transcribing regional accents.
Which UK accents are harder to transcribe than others? This is our list of the top ten areas of difficult regional UK accents:
- Geordie (Newcastle and Tyneside)
- Scouse (Merseyside)
- Black Country (Wolverhampton, Dudley and Walsall areas)
- West and South Yorkshire
- Cockney (Greater London)
- Brummie (Birmingham)
Some of these may be surprising, but it’s often quite difficult to detect particular words if somebody for example is speaking quite quickly.
The one type of recording every transcription company and transcriber will struggle with is a focus group of 19 year old students discussing something they are interested in. The difficulty these participants tend to throw up is the speed at which they speak, and also the fact that they tend to speak over the top of each other without pausing.
Give us a Scouser any day….