The Reverse Transcription Tool

Getting Started with Reversible Transcription

[When you first look at the codes and charts for the reversible transcription system, it will look terribly complex and difficult. However, this is not really the case. Most of the character codes you will use most often can be learned quite easily and quickly as you work. Moreover, if you are transcribing Ottoman Turkish, at the very least you have already learned the Turkish alphabet (for many of you when you were very young) the Arabic alphabet, the Persian version of the Arabic alphabet, the Ottoman version of the Arabic alphabet, and at least one Latin letter transcription system. And there are advantages: you can do one transcription that will produce an Arabic script version, an Ottoman transcription version, and a simpler modern Turkish transcription version; you can do your transcribing on any computing machine in any word processing program; you do not need special fonts or programs---you could even transcribe on an iPod or most cell phones! Also, when you are done, your transcription will be more accurate than has ever before been possible.] Our suggestion is: PLAY WITH THE TOOL TO SEE HOW IT WORKS!

What you need to know first: Using the uptake tools

  1. In order to get started you will need to use the charts that display the codes that form the "alphabet" of the transcription system. The codes are very simple—a letter + a number—but there are many variations that must be taken into account. There are 4 basic charts for transcribers: the Consonants Chart (and the Consonants in Arabic Order Chart), the Vowel Codes Chart, and the Special Characters Chart. There is also the Writing Arabic information that you will need occasionally for adding phrases in Arabic. You can either download printable version of these charts or open windows in which you can display the .html versions of them in your browser. All of these charts are largely untested and will be updated as new problems arise. The Special Characters Chart is still very much under development. It includes several characters that occur in Latin transcription but which have no representation in the Arabic script.
  2. You can use any program to transcribe BUT the text that you copy and paste into the "Input Text Area" of the Uptake Site MUST be in simple lower ASCII characters—no special transcription characters including many modern Turkish characters such as ş, ç, ü, ö, ı, ğ. Also you should have no additional formatting information hidden in the file.This means that you must save your text as a "text only" or "plain text" (or .txt) file or you must transcribe in a "text only" word processor like Wordpad or other "text editors". Word processors with fancy formatting features [like WORD] add hidden codes that tell various programs how the text should be displayed on a screen or printed. These will cause the Reversible Transcription program to fail. So remember: TEXT ONLY!
  3. Every line of your transcription must end with [space]* to give single spacing or with [space]** to give double spacing. Where possible, it is recommended that your line ends match those in the document you are transcribing.The [space] is important because the program needs to know where a word ends and the symbol * will be read as a letter if it is not preceded by a space.
  4. There are three ways to load your transcription into the Uptake Tool:
    1. You can type your transcription directly into the Input Text Area. [But you will need to save both the output (what shows up in the output file) and what you typed into the Input Area. The program does not save anything!]
    2. You can simply copy your transcribed text file and paste it into the Input Text Area.
    3. You can use the "Browse" button to upload a transcribed text from your computer to the Input Text Area.
  5. The Uptake Page contains several features that you should try out beginning with The Controls. There are samples of transcribed text that you can simply copy and paste into the Input Text Area to see how the tool works.
    1. The Ottoman Arabic button will convert text in the Input Text Area to Arabic Script Ottoman.
    2. The Ottoman Latin button converts the same text to a standard Ottoman transcription system.
    3. The Turkish button converts the text to a modern Turkish transcription without the special transcription characters.
    4. The Other button does nothing now but it is held available for other types of transcription.
    5. The XML button will, in the future, produce a TEI-LITE wrapper with a downloadable style sheet/XSL. This is under development.
    6. The Clear/Reset button clears and resets the Input Text Area by deleting everything.
    7. The Browse button allows you to upload your plain text files from your computer. Your text will not appear in the Input Text Area but you can use the conversion buttons to view the converted text.
  6. SAVING your converted output can be done in several ways. From the window that shows your converted output:
    1. Select File => Save Page as/Save as from your browser’s toolbar or right click. Make sure that the filename ends with .html and save to a file on your computer.
    2. Select View => Page Source. In the "Source" window, select the entire text and copy/paste it into a text editor window on your computer.
    3. Print the output from the converted output window
    4. Copy the output and paste it into another program. You should be careful if copying Arabic Script text to a word processor that your word processor will automatically convert to right-to-left formatting for this text. Otherwise, make sure that your word processor is set for Arabic or Persian.
    5. Remember: When you type directly into the Input Text Area, you must save what you type as well as the converted output. The tool will not save anything.
  7. The Metadata Boxes will record basic data about your text: the name of the text, the author of the text, the date of the text, and the person responsible for the transcription.
  8. IMPORTANT SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS: There are some matters that you need to keep in mind as you transcribe.
    1. Fonts: one of the most disconcerting problems faced in creating an automatic transcription conversion is that different fonts handle some characters differently and different browsers use different fonts. For example, in many Arabic script fonts there is a special compound character [Unicode character 65010] that creates the special form of the name of God [Allah, ﷲ].The problem is that in some fonts only the part without the "elif" is created by the character number. Our conversion system converts the Latin "Allah" into character 65010 and if your font displays the whole name, you can simply transcribe using "Allah". However, if yours only displays the form without "elif" you will need to use the more complete transcription "A4llwa6ha". Also, some fonts automatically convert any combination of lam, lam, ha to the "Allah glyph" so that the last three letters of ẖayālla would come out as ﷲ. We have added a short extension (keṣīde or tanwīn) to prevent this.
    2. The Asterisk (or single quote): As you will see, several of the special characters use the asterisk/single quote as a character (followed by a number). Many word processors [such as WORD] insert "smart quotes" automatically and may convert your plain lower ASCII asterisk/single quotes into "smart quotes". These will not convert correctly and you must make sure that any asterisk/single quotes are of the plain variety. Working in a text editor such as Wordpad or others will help you avoid this problem.

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