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One of the unexpected benefits of transcribing market research, and research interviews, is the amount of trivia I’ve picked up since starting to work for McGowan Transcription Services. I am not usually very good at retaining knowledge that I read. I am much more likely to remember visual things like faces and places. However, because audio transcription requires real concentration at all times, my listening skills have improved, as has my knowledge retention. I think, possibly, that my quest to hear what has been said, often requiring me to rewind and play back certain phrases frequently, until the penny drops, means that some bits of information have been indelibly imprinted in my memory banks.

One transcription project in particular had a real impact on me, not only because I now know a new word but also because it taught me something valuable.

I was transcribing an interview where the respondent worked in the ophthalmological field. Typing that word alone, now, without reference to spellcheck is quite satisfying, in itself, but I digress… He mentioned something called adult strabismus. If you’ve never hear the word, nor seen it, trust me when I say that it took several rewinds, playbacks and more to nail it. At the time, I had no idea what it meant, so I did an online search for the definition.

stra·bis·mus/strəˈbizməs/ Noun: Abnormal alignment of the eyes; the condition of having a squint.
Synonyms: squint

If that isn’t trivia enough, I’ll share two more transcribing insights on strabismus. The first is that contrary to popular opinion, it is easily rectifiable in adults. The second is that studies show that people applying for jobs who have strabismus are discriminated against! Sometimes I need reminding of just how lucky I am and often, it is whilst providing digital transcription services that I have my eyes opened!

The cherry on the top of this newly acquired transcription knowledge came at the tail end of 2012. I was watching University Challenge, waiting anxiously for MasterChef: The Professionals to come on when Jeremy Paxton asked what the term strabismus is. I was out of those starting blocks, my hand in the air, waving frantically, yelling, ‘Squint.’ The absolute added bonus was that none of the eight contestants knew the answer. I don’t usually watch but if I do I think the average number of answers I know is one, and of course it is normally the one that everyone else in the room knows too. My husband isn’t quite as taken with my increasing general knowledge as his hearing is still recovering and we’ve not yet managed to coax the cat out from under the sofa permanently!

Still I am chuffed with this unexpected bonus of providing digital transcription services to McGowan Transcriptions.

Blog by Laurian Kerr