Transcription in Action

Department of Linguistics
University of California, Santa Barbara

Contact: Mary Bucholtz ()
and John W. Du Bois ()

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VoiceWalker is a transcriber's tool, designed to help you transcribe audio or video recordings. VoiceWalker lets you play back the sound in a controlled way, with the benefit of being able to systematically step (or "walk") through a recording, repeating short segments for a specified number of repetitions, then moving on to the next segment. The segments overlap, so that the transcriber does not become disoriented.

VoiceWalker assumes that you have digitized your recordings as computer files to work with them more easily (for information on how to digitize, see the VoiceWalker manual).

VoiceWalker is free, available for Windows only. There are two versions:

Version 2.0 supports WAV files for all functions, and also plays Windows AVI files and Quicktime MOV files. (This version was written in Visual Basic.)
DOWNLOAD VoiceWalker 2.0 (3.0 MB)

Version 1.0 is very similar in functionality to version 2.0, but supports only audio (WAV files). It has a few different features from those implemented in 2.0, so you may wish to try both to see which works better for you. (This version was written in SumTotal's ToolBook.)
DOWNLOAD VoiceWalker 1.0 (4.0 MB)

VoiceWalker manual. The easiest way to learn to use VoiceWalker is to just try it out. Click on all the buttons and see what they do - since VoiceWalker never modifies your files, but only plays them back, you can do no harm. To learn more about VoiceWalker, you will find that all the features are fully documented in the VoiceWalker manual.
DOWNLOAD VoiceWalker Manual in pdf (0.2 MB)


SoundWriter is software designed for researchers who work with spoken discourse. SoundWriter helps you link a transcription to the corresponding digitized audio. The result is a transcription you can hear: when you click on a line of transcription, you hear the corresponding words as originally spoken. SoundWriter provides specialized tools for working with intonation units, overlapping speech, and more. SoundWriter automatically calculates a unique TimeLine that iconically displays the temporal relation of adjacent intonation units, including those involved in complex patterns of overlapping turns at talk.

SoundWriter is free, available for Windows only.

Caveat: SoundWriter should be considered beta software. Those who don't want to experiment should stick with VoiceWalker, which is simpler and stabler (though it does less, of course). What SoundWriter offers is a prototype representing a certain vision of a discourse research tool, designed to help the researcher hear and visualize relationships between utterances in conversational interaction. DOWNLOAD SoundWriter 2.0 (3.9 MB)

SoundWriter Manual. Provides a brief description of SoundWriter functions.
DOWNLOAD SoundWriter Manual in pdf (0.2 MB)