Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Power of Syntax...

As a girl who spent a good chunk of my summer transcribing, I noticed something reading a CNN blog article just now.

See, ever since I had the experience of transcribing speech just as it's been said, I've realized how much we, on a daily basis, smooth out what others say in our heads. If you've been transcribing for awhile, you begin to notice that the inevitable fillers in newscaster's talk gets left out of the closed-captioning, for instance.

However, in the world of public speaking, there are expectations for a more polished syntax (sans fillers). And with our current president, people started noticing exact syntax. And I find it fascinating that this CNN blog entry, in reporting Governor Palin's exact words and word order, gives us transcript form rather than reporting the gist of what was said rather than smoothing it out, as reporters have so often done in the past.

Question: are our political reporters increasingly moving to the modern fiction model of "show, don't tell"? There is certainly an emphasis lately on non-verbals as well, in the debate coverage...Are these moves natural ones, highlighting the re-ascendancy of oral and visual culture? Or does it take the oral out of context, since we so often correct for the oral internally, emphasizing syntactical moves that look wrong in print (where we're not used to transcript style, as anyone who has tried to go back and re-read their IM conversations could testify) and therefore doing injustice to the person whose words were included? A little bit of both, perhaps?

Inquiring minds want to know...

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