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I hope none of us do!
Thank you all for such insight. Just joined today and enjoyed reading the posts. I never, never, never use unintelligible in live testimony, only in transcribing audio devices. I would like to think that, that is the distinction between court reporters and court recorders. I will search to the deep end of the earth to find the answer, If all else fails I phonetic it.
A few ideas:
Were there exhibits that might contain the term and you can dig around in those and find it?
Google the individual. If he's an expert in the field, he may have published articles that contain the term.
Email the individual. Wouldn't hurt. I've done things like that with public hearings and people are often very helpful. After all, they like to see themselves quoted correctly.
This sounds like an administrative hearing and it's quasi-judicial, so you want to be accurate. I would hesitate to use [unintelligible] in that situation.
Spell out what you have phonetically and post it here. Sometimes it does need a fresh pair of eyes/ears.
When I have had that happen -- thankfully only once -- I marched up to the guy who spoke at 400 wpm and said "I see you read from a script. I would like a copy of that, please." He looked at me like I had grown horns. I said if you want your speech to be reported accurately, then it will help enormously if you give me that text you just read from." Bemused, he just handed it over to me and said "There." And ya know what? I then marched up to all the speakers on the list and said the same thing. When you have finished your speech, if you are reading from prepared text, please drop the prepared text at my desk. And amazingly they ALL did. Dunno if he was reading from prepared text, but if he was, I'd have gotten in touch with his office and told him "You know, your speech is important and i'd like to get a copy of it to make sure what I heard was what you had actually said." Just a thought.