California Official Court Reporters Association

Realtime Tips : User Handout II

What To Expect When Viewing Real-Time

Real-time translation begins with the court reporter, but he/she is not solely responsible for the quality of the translation. The conduct of the participants can greatly affect real-time translation.

Cross-talking, talking too fast or unclearly, can result in an increased number of un-translated steno. Although the reporter may be able to keep up with the fast pace or sort out two people talking at one time, the precision with which each syllable must be written on the shorthand machine in order for the computer to recognize it will suffer. Also, the reporter may be able to keep up with a spurt of over 200 words per minute for two or three minutes, but not for five or ten, and the output will become correspondingly tortured.

A certain amount of mental gymnastics is required by the real-time reporter. For example, when the reporter hears a homonym such as the word “to,” they must determine whether it should appear as “to,” “too,” “2,” “two,” “2:00,” or “II,” and decide upon the necessary steno stroke.

However, sometimes the incorrect choice may be entered. Alternatively, two or three choices for the same word may appear on the screen. Such things are matters which are cleaned up during the editing process.

Another phenomenon which will appear from time to time is what we call mistranslates, or word boundary problems. Rather than try to explain it, a few examples should make it clear:

A translation of “knocks villain Jacksonville” when the words spoken were “Knoxville in Jacksonville.” A translation of “beacon tent” when the words spoken were “be content.” A translation of “sold urine war” when the words spoken were “soldier in war.” You get the idea.

If you have questions about a particular nonsensical translation, word-boundary distinction, or steno outline, mark or note the area of concern and the reporter can clarify it for you at a later time. Under no circumstances should you make reference to a questionable outline on the record or during the proceedings.

Many un-translated words are simply proper names and places unique to the current case, as well as technical or geographical terms not yet in the reporter’s “dictionary.” With each day’s proceedings, case-specific words and briefs will be added to the reporter’s dictionary and the translation rate will increase accordingly.

Finally, you must have confidence in the reporter’s judgment as to what will be cleaned up in the editing process or when it is time to interrupt the proceedings, because it is rare, if ever, that any participant in a legal proceeding is more conscious of making the record than is the reporter.