Wednesday, February 11, 2009
That would be job, as in work, not Job, as in the guy with all the boils.
This is an amazingly busy week for us here at Marketing Messages. We are recording and editing 10 or 11 scripts of some 40,000 words each. That's what we do, record and edit scripts. As well as being a voice talent, I am also an audio engineer and producer. There are three of us on-staff working on this particular job.
Now, the recording process for each of these scripts takes about three hours. The editing of same, into audio suitable for playback over the telephone - which is what the great majority of our work comprises - takes about the same length of time. In other words, each of these scripts is close to a full day of work for one person. They are in addition to other scheduled work due out this week. So, 10 or 11 scripts, of 40,000 words each, along with the other jobs on the board, fairly much fills the week for us - and then some.
Oh, did I mention that the scripts are in Punjabi, Urdu, Gujerati, Tamil, Kannada, and other Indian languages?
OK. Can you speak Gujerati? Probably not. Neither can I. However, even though I don't speak Gujerati, I have to record and edit Gujerati voice files. I have approximately 45 script pages of Gujerati recordings which I must chop up into sentences and small paragraphs today. And I don't understand a single blessed word of it.
A great deal of my job consists of recording languages other than English and then editing those recordings into the component pieces that a client needs. I won't give you a sample of the Gujerati, the reason being that I'm not sure how this somewhat new client would feel about issues of confidentiality and such. These scripts are connected with medical trials, and publishing them may somehow compromise those trials. However, as an example, I'll show you a page of script from a recent recording session involving Mandarin Chinese.
Annie, our Mandarin talent, is a very nice woman and a professional; almost always gets it right on the first take. At least, she seems to; I can't understand a word of what she says while she's recording.
Annie also speaks English, so it isn't as though I have the added aggravation of having to convey anything via sign language. All of our voice talents who record in languages other than English also speak English. It humbles me severely dealing with them. I'm amazingly inept at learning languages. I flunked Spanish three times in high school, as well as Latin twice and French once. Oh, I picked up a phrase here or there, but nothing very useful. For instance, I can make my need for aspirin known by saying...
"Je mal a la tete."
Which literally, in French, means, "I have a sick head". Indeed. I also know how to ask someone if they wish to go to bed with me, but I learned that from a Labelle song.
Anyway, all of these voice talents have learned my language and I know almost nothing of theirs. And I'm the producer in charge of the recording sessions. What a country!
I don't particularly enjoy working with our foreign-language voice talents. It isn't anything against them personally. They are almost uniformly pleasant to be with and nice. It's just that it's tremendously brain-wearying to listen to (what is to my ignorant ear) unintelligible gibberish for 2 or 3 hours while attempting to make notes on my copy of the script that will help me to edit it into a coherent work after the recording part is done.
Here is a bit of Annie's recent script for your viewing pleasure. You can click onto it and enlarge it. If you can't see it easily, please do that.
You'll notice my notes (or note my notices) on the script. I am reminding myself what the numbers 1, 2, and 3 sound like in Mandarin. Also, that whenever I see a particular character, it sounds like "Loo" - although when I asked Annie about the translation of that character, she gave it a stand-alone pronunciation that sounded more like "Jzoo". Sounds like "Loo" to my western ear when it is part of a sentence, so that's how I have to note it.
Being in possession of this sparse bit of information, I can more-or-less find my way around. You'll see that there is a grouping of 5 or 6 sentences where the "Loo" character is the second one in the sentence. When I get to that part of the script, I'll be able to chop it up pretty easily.
It's hard, but it's not the impossible task it might appear to be at first. Even though some of the inflection in Chinese is dissimilar to English, the overall sound of a sentence is not that far off. When someone gets to a period, the inflection is more-or-less downwards and a question sounds like a question. It takes a great deal of concentration, however, and it tires the brain.
With the Indian language script we're currently working on, there is the added aggravation - as with the Mandarin above - of most of these languages not being written in the standard "A, B, C" alphabet we English speakers are used to. The Arabic alphabet is used for Urdu, for instance, and it looks like nothing more than random squiggles to me. I'm illiterate, in a way. It's like someone who doesn't read music trying to make sense of musical notation. But, I can do the job. That's why I get the medium-sized bucks.
It's also why this will be the last entry here until next Tuesday. I am going home brain-dead every night this week. I thank God that I have a three-day weekend coming up. It should be barely enough to refresh my brain from the tapioca-like state it will no doubt be in by Friday.
I will hunt down and kill the first one of you who leaves a comment in Bahasa.
Soon, with more better stuff.