Talking and Reading

After each "shoot," we prepare a transcript of everything that was said. There are a lot of "uh-huhs" and "okays" and talking at the same time. Dialect is a doozy and mumbles and grunts can strain your ear. Understanding exactly what was said can be very difficult. We record audio on three different devices and video on at least two cameras. Sometimes, we have to listen to all three and watch the video to make sure what was said. It is arduous to say the least. But, we want the transcript to be very accurate so we don't take something out of context or, worse, misinterpret what someone meant. Moreover, we don't want to pick an edit point only to discover that what we thought was said is not exactly what was said.  

It's interesting how you could swear someone said something during an interview only to discover that they actually said something quite different. The speaker meant one thing but didn't quite say it that way and the listener heard something else altogether. Remember that game where one person whispers a story to someone else who must then whisper it to the next person? By the time the story makes the circle it barely resembles the original. When you actually study what someone said, it greatly increases your understanding of what they meant. We are trying our best to accurately present what we are told. It takes many hours to get it right.

The process brings home how complicated our speech is. It is loaded with words pronounced different ways by different people. Sounds can be barely discernible. Meanings might turn on the words before or after, the emphasis used, the tone, the contrast, and many other factors. Despite the complexity of our language, babies start picking up on spoken sounds and even simple words very early. By kindergarden, young children speak rather well without having been formally trained. Speech seems to come to most of us quite "naturally."

Why doesn't reading? It's just written language. It's the same words we speak, just on paper - well, maybe now a screen. Is it simply the difference between using your ears and eyes? Certainly, some people have speech issues that might require attention. But, many, many more are challenged to read. How are the words lost in translation? Are we just built to process sounds better? Is it that we have to translate writing to sounds? Wait, we can read silently. We are looking for some answers. Stay tuned.