As a court reporter & supervisor for 34 years our rule of thumb in the transcription of evidence, many people relax their pronunciation whilst on the stand, such as "gotta, kinda" but we've always transcribed the proper spelling i.e. "kind of, got to" etc.

Recently there's been a change to the court system and whoever the "powers that be" are now mandating that we have to transcribe exactly how people pronounce their words. So as the training supervisor of transcript training, I am trying to find a list which gives me spellings of relaxed pronunciation. Do you know where I could find one? I've Googled, but I'm only finding some words, but not many examples, i.e. "something", but sounds like they're saying "sum'em".

I need this for my next training class next week to hand out to the court reporters.

  • Unfortunately, there probably is no list. While gonna, kinda are quite common, I rarely see tryna, even though I'd guess the actual pronunciation it corresponds to isn't much rarer than gonna. Ngrams shows that "gonna" is 2000 times more common in print than "tryna", and there's probly other relaxed pronunciations that appear even more rarely. Apr 11, 2014 at 16:57
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    I can understand accurately recording "kinda" or "sorta", but it sounds like this is being taken too far. If I saw a written transcript with the word "sum'em" I would have no idea what it meant, even though I would probably have understood it when it was spoken in court. What are you going to do when someone with a strong Boston accent takes the stand? "Da cah was neah da habah"? Apr 11, 2014 at 16:57
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    You'll never be able to 'transcribe exactly as people pronounce their words' because different people often pronounce their words differently, and at times incorrectly. You will end up with a more or less accurate and comprehendable compromise. For instance, in an old Northwest English dialect (still encountered), " 'E's Goin t'mill" is used to represent something sounding like 'ees goin mil' where the o sound of goin is about 4 times as long as the i sound, which is however emphasised, and there's a hint of a t after the n. Just pray you don't get someone from Sunderland in your court. Apr 11, 2014 at 16:58
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    It's not a bad idea to spell fused auxiliaries like hafta and gotta that way -- google "eye dialect" for lists -- but there are no standard spellings. And if the Powers want exactness, there's no substitute for sound recording. Transcribe recorded material later, when you can do the job properly. Consult a sociophonetician for precise transcription details. Apr 11, 2014 at 16:58
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    I hope OP doesn't hail from the UK! This sounds like a terrible idea to me! Apart from the fact that there's no recognised standard for spelling "relaxed" pronunciations, who decides what's "relaxed", and what's just "other, more acceptable dialectal variation"? What if the witness says "cough, cough", for example? Should that be transcribed "koff koff"? Why not write everything in eye-dialect? I think any such transcripts would be prejudicial to people who don't enunciate precisely (i.e. - most of us), since eye-dialect is invariably "denigratory", whether it's "accurate" or not. Apr 11, 2014 at 17:51

1 Answer 1


Perhaps your googling has failed because you're spelling pronunciation with an extra O (after the first N).

When I googled "relaxed pro nun ciation" I found this web site.

There are other such sites, but I'll leave further googling to you!


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