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Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2020

Page updated 29 April, 2020

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2020, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

CASE STUDY an example of transcription conventions, adapted from various sources

There is no standard set of symbols although there is general agreement on the main features of talk that need to be recorded as well as some agreement on how to do it using the characters on a typewriter keyboard. For example:

(.) a micropause, or tiny gap between or within an utterance

(1.4) elapsed time of silence (in this case, 1.4 seconds)

= at the end of one utterance and the beginning of another, indicates no gap between them.

/ marks the beginning of the point where an utterance is overlapped by the one above or below.

* marks the point where the overlap ceases.

Underlining shows stress of a word or syllable.

CAPITALS capitalization of a phrase or sentence indicated relative loudness.

ºwordsº talk which is noticeably quieter than surrounding talk

>words< talk which is noticeably faster than surrounding talk

<words> talk which is noticeably slower than surrounding talk

^ marked rise in pitch

: one or more colons show prolongation of the prior sound, for example, we::ll.

? question marks indicates a rising inflection, question intonation, not the syntax of sentences.

, a comma shows an intonation that suggests the speaker is continuing (rising intonation) independent of the syntax.

. falling intonation, independent of the sentence syntax.

! an exclamation mark shows emphatic tone, not the syntax of the sentence.

hhh an outbreath.

.hhh an inbreath.

( ) empty parentheses indicate that the transcriber can't hear the passage.

(( )) double parentheses indicate clarifying information, e.g., ((laughs)).

There are many other symbols and every article refers to some published list, or gives its own conventions in an appendix. Conversation analysts often try to suggest pronunciation by approximating it in their spelling but this rarely works effectively.

Sources: Gale (2000); Myers (undated); Nevile and Walker (2005)


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