Transcription Bank: Danyal Farsani

Where the transcript was published
Unpublished (part of ongoing PhD thesis)

Link to full transcriptfarsani transcript image

How the transcript was made
I primarily used Microsoft office to generate this multi-modal transcript. It involves a number of different modes such as texts, pictures and computer generated images that were already available in Microsoft office.

Rationale for the design
I was very interested in analyzing the ‘language’ that is employed in communication in a bilingual mathematics classroom. My definition of language was influenced by Mehrabian’s  theory of three V’s; that is Verbal, Vocal and Visual (Mehrabian & Weiner, 1967). Verbal is what is said, Vocal is how something is said and visual, which is a range of nonverbal modes of expression such as gestures and other body-based resources. I was unsure as to how to incorporate: constant code-switching between two national languages (Farsi and English), prosodic and paralinguistic elements of speech, visual modes of communication (e.g. gestures), but also mathematical symbolism, algebraic notations and diagrammatic representations in a transcription. In other words, by transcribing, I wanted to incorporate fluid and dynamic events that occur in a three dimensional space onto a two dimensional fixed and static plane using pen and paper.

Throughout my PhD journey I became interested in Kress and van Leeuwen’s (1996:187) notion of ‘Given’ and ‘New’. That is “[t]he elements placed on the left are presented as Given, the elements placed on the right as New. What is given is what the viewers are already familiar and agree upon but what is New, on the other hand, is not yet known and viewers must pay special attention to it”. In this multi-modal transcript that I am offering, the left hand column contains the verbal and vocal elements of interaction only. The column in the middle is a visual representation of the spoken counterpart. The third column is a description of  the event.

Purpose of the transcript
The main purposes of this multi-modal transcript was a twofold:

  • to take an account of the resources that are available not only within the mathematics classrooms but,
  • to encounter a heteroglossic approach to language usage and semiotic resources within a mathematics lesson.

Other issues in making this transcript
There are two important issues that I would like to address in relation to ‘translation’ and ‘the role of transcriber in transcribing and making sense of the multi-modal transcription’.

Often not having the cultural experience that goes with the linguistic expression cause errors and breakdown in communication (Farsani, 2012b). There exists a number of ‘idioms’ or ‘phrases’ within each language that assign a particular meaning to mathematics. For example the term cross-multiplication only conveys a mathematical meaning in English language. Cross-multiplication describes a specific mathematical operation in two words where is Farsi, this specific ‘phrase’ does not actually exist and one has to describe the whole operation (or even concept) in one paragraph. There are also non-verbal challenges in translation. There are semantic incongruences by gestures that are produced by speakers of different languages. As Kress (2010:11) has recently observed “there is no reason to assume that the mode of gesture in culture 1 covers the same ‘area’ or the same concerns, or is used for the same purposes and meanings as the mode of gesture in culture 2”.

Aspect of my multi-modal transcription was presented in a working group where participants were asked to analyze the language of a particular bilingual mathematics classroom (Farsani, 2012a). A comment was made that researchers doing analysis will generally have had access to the rich video data from which the text is created and that this is perhaps highly significant in terms of being able to make sense of the language. This concept fits well with the role of the agent in transcription in that they make significant ‘representational choices’, for example, “What do I select for transcription?” or “What do I highlight in the transcript?” (Bezemer & Mavers, 2011:194).

The multimodal transcript convention I have used is as follows:

T Teacher
B Boy
[          ] Non-verbal communication
{          } My Translation
Italics Farsi transliterated into English
Normal font English language
Dots Each dot represents one second of silence
Change in font size Change in volume of an utterance: the bigger the font is, the louder the pronunciation.  The smaller the font is, the quieter the pronunciation of the term


Bezemer, J., & Mavers, D. (2011) Multimodal transcription as academic practice: a social semiotic perspective. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 14(3), pp. 191–206.

Farsani, D. (2012a) Mathematics Education and the Analysis of Language Working Group: Making multimodal mathematical meaning.  In C. Smith, (Ed.) Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics 32(1) March 2012. University of Manchester.

Farsani, D. (2012b) Complementary functions of learning mathematics in two languages versus one. 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education, Seoul, South Korea.

Kress, G. (2010) Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. Routledge

Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, T. (1996) Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge.

Mehrabian, A., & Weiner, M. (1967) Decoding of inconsistent communications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 6, 109-114.