My firm charges more for really technical stuff and rushes, arbitrations. I'm curious, does anybody increase their page rate for witnesses who have really heavy accents? It sure does increase the time it takes to get the transcripts completed.
Merry Christmas everybody!!!

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Really, heavy accents are difficult. You are correct. How many times did you say, "Excuse me. Would you please repeat your answer."

That can make for additional pages.

Good luck.

Bubbie Karen
Bubbie, Karen,
Not only was I asking him to repeat, so were both of the attorneys.
It was bad.
I'll be glad to get this off of my desk. Thank God it was NOT a video. That's the only good thing about this one.
Janiece, you posed this question at the perfect time for me to vent! In the last month, I've had three, count 'em, three horrible, horrible witnesses to write in realtime, no less. What made it horrible? Every single one of them should have had an interpreter, especially the last, who happened to be Korean. The others I would describe as French Transylvanian -- that's the closest I could get to what they sounded like.

Let me mention that most every transcription after the fact, that is, transcription of prerecorded material, upcharges their page or per-minute rates not only for multiple speakers, expedited delivery, but they also upcharge for particularly arduous material. And they have the luxury of using "unintelligible" and "inaudible." We do not. That's a benefit of using a live court reporter!

Here's my vent. Can you imagine writing a witness where even the attys admittedly COULD NOT UNDERSTAND THE WITNESS, and that's their reason for requesting realtime??? I am not kidding. The attys requested a realtime feed on a nearly unintelligible witness so that THEY could understand what he was saying.

For various reasons ... no realtime was requested beforehand, it was the last job before vacation and I didn't want to lug all that extra equipment for no reason ... I did not provide realtime for this job. But I asked the conducting atty at a break, after he jokingly pointed out what a tough day I was having ... "tough" does not BEGIN to describe it ... after he jokingly said what he said, I looked very seriously at him and said, "Do YOU understand every word that's coming out of his mouth?" He said, "Of course," very flippantly. I said, nonconfrontationally, but seriously, "You seriously understand each and every word that comes out of his mouth?" He said, "Yes, because I know the case." I said, "Really? You understand every word?" He continued to insist that he did.

Epilogue, since the job is over. in this all-day job from hell, I count 87 times that the conducting atty said, "I'm sorry, sir, I don't understand what you're saying," or some variation of that. I count 61 occasions where I asked for a repeat because I didn't understand what the witness was saying, and 2 occasions where I asked people not to speak overtop of each other, and 1 occasion where I asked them to slow down generally.

I do not upcharge for highly technical work because most of my work IS highly technical, and I expect it. I believe my rates reflect that. I upcharge, OF COURSE, for expedited, rough drafts and realtime. About once a year, I'll have a job that's so very, very difficult ... not because of the subject matter, but because of the parties ... and I absolutely charge more for that work.

I've heard some FOs say, ahh, well, it all works out in the end, because we have very easy jobs during the year. So what if you have to struggle with a job here or there to get it just right? I strongly disagree with that attitude! Strongly disagree. Each reporter makes up their own mind on what their time is worth, although some are powerless because of the practices of their firm. The question you asked is one that's near and dear to my heart, Janiece, and I'm very anxious to hear others' comments on this very subject.

Can you tell I'm still recovering from this awful job?

Merry Christmas to you, Janiece!

Mary Ann,
Isn't great to have a place where you can vent.
I don't charge technical every time, just when it really slows me down, even on medical.
My worst job this year was a phosphorus chemist, who was a super-nice guy but whew was it technical. I can remember sitting there writing and thinking to myself, I really don't know if I can make a transcript out of this. It edited -- when I was flying -- at five pages an hour. I was afraid it was going to be a career ender for me. It was a video.
I've never boosted my rate for an accent but I'm thinking about talking to my boss on this one.
Thanks for your input.
Janiece! A career-ender! That's exactly what I was thinking! Here's the other thought that ran through my head too ... I think firms and firm owners are extremely hesitant to "speak to" one of their clients, especially when there's a problem like this. As my wonderfully supportive boyfriend, Dick, tells me, we make it look too damn easy! We sit down, they speak, words appear. Agencies don't want to alienate their clients, of COURSE ... but there's a thing called "respect," and in my opinion, there should be a huge effort underway to get just a LITTLE respect for the reporter. When I ask and ask and ask folks to stop talking overtop each other, or slow down, and they don't "get it," I'll sometimes say, "Could you just speak as if someone was writing DOWN what you're saying?"

The other problem with these deps was that the conducting atty had a "style," and that "style" was for him NOT to "conduct" the deposition, but sit down across from the witness and use his mannerisms, hand gestures, and let's-be-friends-here tone to engage in a conversation with the witness. NOT APPROPRIATE for highly complex material! It's a formal court proceeding, and trying to gain the witness's confidence by being friends with them and having a conversation as they might over a beer or at someone's kitchen table is just so wrong.

End of Vent II. On to Richmond! Goin to see Robert Downey, Jr., tonight, maybe a double feature, even, pick up the grandkids tomorrow and head to the cabin in PA until school starts for them again!

M.A., OOV (Officially On Vacation!!!)
I used to work for a court reporting company in D.C. that had the World Bank contract. It wasn't my favorite thing to work on, but, hey, it's a job, as they say.

Accented speech is a toughie. The court reporting company did pay the court reporters AND transcriptionists both a higher page rate for World Bank jobs, but the page rates, of course, were established beforehand.

I will say that when the stenotypists could not understand the words spoken due to accents, they would insert "[?]" but NEVER "[inaudible]" or "[unintelligible]" or "[indiscernible]." For court-reported jobs, the "[?]" parenthetical was allowed.

I know that it is customary to never have certain parentheticals in jobs where there is a court reporter present, but if you cannot understand the speakers, then you have to put something. I do use the "[?]" in my transcripts with heavy accents. However, after I finish the job, I always go back and proof it to the audio. It is amazing how many of those "[?]" I can fill in after I'm finished with the job, as I am then familiar with the subject matter and the accented speaker's voice.

Recently I took a depo in Paris of a French cardiologist/inventor who is the foremost expert in the world in replacing aortic valves nonsurgically. It was brutal. After flying in the day before I was exhasuted to start, and while we had an interpreter present she was not utilized by counsel and sat there silently the entire day. The depo was nearly 300 pages long.

To make matters a little more interesting, the depo was videotaped as well as realtime streamed back to the U.S. When I suggested to the attorney taking the depo that he might consider utilizing the interpreter since I was interrupting the deponent pretty often just trying to understand what he was saying, the attorney replied, "No one said it was going to be easy."

Now, this wasn't my first rodeo. I take a lot of offshore depos of non-English speaking witnesses and this was the absolute worst. And guess what, we are charging extra for the time it took to decipher his testimony.

I think you are entitled not to be abused, and if you are going to be abused then the lawyers should pay for it. After all, no one said it was going to be cheap.
Hey, Dennis,
You win the prize for the hardest job. Your job in Paris sounds much harder than my phosphorus chemist. I thought I had taken the hardest job I would ever face but I guess there's even tougher stuff out there.
I can't believe what that attorney said to you. Did he say it in a joking way or was he serious?
Anyway, thanks for giving your input.
I hope my reply also may have provided a little help to you, Janiece. :-)

Abosolutely, thank you for your input also. I had never seen the "{?}" parenthetical you use and I may use that in the future. I thought it was interesting how you talked about when you were working on the World Bank jobs. Those must have been hard.

I've done quite a few World Bank jobs. Not all of them are difficult. When you have accented speech, though, it can present some difficulties.

We had a Russian court reporter who worked in the office, and though English was not her native language, she seemed to not have difficulties with the accented speech of the World Bank jobs.

For me, believe it not, the most difficult accented speakers at times were from England. Man, they seem to talk 300 WPM, and I can't understand a word they're saying, even though they're speaking English. LOL

No, the lawyer was dead serious. It's as if trying to decipher medical terminology spoken in a thick indecipherable French accent is part of our job description.

Someone needs to tell these guys that just because you've got a steno machine between your legs does not automatically turn you into a super hero. Our ears work just like theirs. If they can't hear it or don't understand the witness, chances are we won't either.

I always get a kick out of the attorneys checking their realtime feed when they don't understand or couldn't hear the witness. Hey, you know what, after further consideration, maybe we are super heroes. Usually we get it right.


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