Can you repeat that, please? And maybe spell it, too?

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I just finished transcribing a 35 minute phone call I had with a woman in South Africa. WOW. This was one of the hardest transcriptions I’ve ever had to do; possibly even harder than the guy from Brazil a few months ago.

It was difficult because her accent is very strong. I could hardly decipher so many of her words or phrases; and it was especially tough because her syntax was a little different, too. Here is a sample sentence:

“Procurement substantial over the global vendors, that way we have our own subcontractors and suppliers, and therein, it’s a very interesting approach that we take with HP South Africa.”

That’s verbatim. It often feels like words are missing, and she said “therein” about a dozen times. She also said, “to which extent” a lot, which sounded to my ears like one run-on word, “tooWITCHeggsdend.” She also pronounces “world” like a German would, which is “vorld.” I kept thinking it sounds like a cross between German and Australian accents.

I’m so happy to finally be finished with this one. Now I have to finish writing the article itself. I already started it, thank God… my other sources were American or Canadian, so no real accents to get in the way there.

This whole thing reminded me of something I’ve thought about a lot since I graduated college: I feel like journalism programs/tracks should offer a basic introduction to other languages around the world. Even if it’s just listening to it and learning some of the characteristics of how other cultures speak, that would be a huge help. I realize this is the first time I’ve ever spoken with someone from South Africa. And the only media experience I can think of is watching “District 9” and, way back, that Biko movie.

The other thing journalism rarely touches on is the nuances of writing for business media. They teach you how to write news stories and feature stories for general consumption newspapers and magazines, but there’s no training regarding business writing. I’m not being arrogant when I say I’m pretty good at it by now, myself (I’ve been doing this for over 14 years now), but I learned so much on the job regarding how to balance advertisers’ wishes with editorial content so nothing sounds promotional; how to understand the graphic design aspects so you can provide input (if necessary) regarding the art elements for your stories; and writing in a style that’s somewhere between a white paper and a Newsweek story. I don’t know why school just glossed over this stuff, but it really did in my case, anyway.

Before I wrap up, here is my most perplexing sentence from the entire transcription. I honestly do not have a freaking clue what the words in italics are supposed to be:

“Also consider that HP is, as much as we do direct business, we also channel sin creek, and are working with resellers.”

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2 responses »

  1. Ooh, good guess! But you’re right, I don’t think that’s it, though. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple days now and I still haven’t come any closer to figuring it out. The good news is that this quote happens in a part of our interview that doesn’t quite fit in the article, anyway. I had a couple people here listen to it too and they don’t know, either.

    Now I am thinking that “Channel Sin Creek” sounds kind of like the name of a wine or something. Or it’s the name of a new TV drama about a the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of a cable access channel that features programming about “sin”-ful things, and their studio is located on the banks of some river or creek.

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