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Tool to facilitate transcribing speech

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My wife is working on transcribing her father's memoirs - he recorded about 39 hours of cassette tapes, which I've digitized for her. She wants to get it all into text. I'm looking for ways to make the job easier.

The obvious solution is something like Dragon software's speech-to-text. But the catch is that the speech is in Mandarin, and so far as I've been able to find, there's no software available to turn Mandarin speech into text.

Short of that, though, can anyone suggest a tool that might help her get through the audio more systematically? Since she's constantly listening to a minute or so, replaying it maybe a couple of times, and then proceeding to the next chunk of text, I think that the beginning of any tool might simplify this looping process.

Another usecase is for when she encounters something she doesn't understand, frequently a name that she doesn't know how to write (Chinese is funny with not being able to write a word if you've never seen its character). She needs to remember these spots and go back over them with her dad, so he can tell her the right characters to use. It might also be useful to store numerous bookmarks for the file, facilitating this process.

Anybody have suggestions I could pass on to her?

This might help: Listen N Write

I used it once for transcribing an interview for the Amiga4Ever guys.

You can bookmark by pressing Control+M, (I don't think you can save them though you can take a screenshot of your bookmarks and then jump to time), plus it also has a Smart Pause N Play mode where it pauses when you start typing in the inbuilt editor and when you stop it starts playing after a couple of seconds.

It requires Windows Media Player be installed, (needs wmp.dll), and has its own built in text editor, and is free/donationware.

Since you've asked, my own software. (Link is in my sig.)

I've used it many times for transcribing videos, interviews, etc.

The main things that help are:

* Full and zoomed waveforms to "see" where you are
* Slowing down the speech
* Setting loop points
* Configurable "skip" lengths to quickly navigate
* Keyboard shortcuts to toggle looping on/off, etc.
On some systems .NET 4.0 Full Profile is required (not the client profile). (This is due to how MS changed where some functions are.)

There's a 15 day trial as well.

I use Olympus DSS Player Plus (v. 7), which comes bundled with some of the Olympus digital recorders, in combination with Olympus foot pedal. But I'm not sure if it's possible to buy the software separately. Another option is f4.

The foot pedal frees up your hands for typing, as you can rewind, stop, start with it. Otherwise those functions can be performed by using assigned F keys using the above software.


P.S. I just remembered that the Olympus foot pedal might come with its own transcription software called the Transcription Module. But it's a lot more complex and sophisticated than the DSS Player Plus, so I never needed it. But I'm just saying that getting the pedal probably supplies you with prof grade transcription software.

A low budget hardware alternative is a no name usb foot pedal like this in combination with an autohotkey script that sends a pause command to the audio playback device. I've used that when transcribing short audio segments from time to time. For a big transcription project more foot pedals would be useful but for smaller a single pedal may be enough.


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