Transcription is the systematic representation of spoken language in a written form. It represents a major methodology in the academic discipline of linguistics. The earliest forms of transcription dates back to ancient Egypt. Scribes used to write down the laws and history given to them by the kings and aristocrats of the time. The scribes would go to school and dedicate their life to both learning and perfecting the hieroglyphic hieratic scripts.
Egyptian hieroglyphs were the official writing system that was used in ancient Egypt. It combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements. Other than using pen and paper to complete the transcription, the scribes made use of stone tablets or papyrus and reed brushes. Egyptian hieroglyphs grew into a mature writing system that was used for historical writing in the classical language of the Middle kingdom period. The system made use of about 900 unique signs. This continued through the New Kingdom and Late period and into the Persian and Ptolemaic periods.
In Rome, transcription and translation can be seen in the works of Josephus. Most of his works were written in what is now known as ancient Greek. He also interpreted some of his work into both Hebrew and Aramaic, and it is assumed that he was also able to communicate in Latin as well. Transcription took place during the era of Constantine Empire. This era saw the first formal codification of the law through the collection known as the Corpus Juris Civilis or Codex Justinianus, the complete transcription of the body of civil law.
In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but it was perfected sometime around 1450. Given the relatively expensive rates at which individuals who were capable of transcribing asked for during the Middle Ages, books were largely limited to the priesthood and royalty.
Transcription as a tool for religion
Scribes would safeguard the oral traditions and customs linked with religion as the demand increased. These were associated with the rise of organized religion through the years of human history. Scribes in Judaism were known as “Sofers” and as Israelites came to form their identity and cultural practices against the Babylonian exile, the sofers become some of the most important members of the Jewish community. It’s through the work of the scribes that we have any of the religious texts that we have today. The scribes acted as a link between the king, religious institutions, and the people. Without the scribes, information would never have reached down to mainstream society.
Transcription during the European Renaissance
With the invention of the printing press in 1439 that enabled mass media to be produced, the role of the scribes expanded further with the times. As the interest in literacy and storytelling grew among the rich, the demand for classic works also increased. Scribes were tasked with reproducing these works as people now wanted their own copies of literary documents that they could access.
In the modern day, transcription is also used in the court systems. Real time transcription is a method of capturing information that allows skilled court reporters to deliver a transcript within just seconds of the words being spoken.
Transcribing is also very helpful in podcasting and interviews. Through Transcription, the podcast episodes are more accessible, creates content that can be repurposed, and podcasts that have transcripts have more back link opportunities and can be used for future references.
Today, there are many software programs and websites, such as scriptingpod.com, that offer transcription services. We make use of cutting edge technology and Artificial Intelligence features to turn any audio or video into its transcribed form. As such, it is easier to transcribe a video or audio file in the most accurate and concise manner as possible.