What is a Scopist?

The first time I heard the term scopist, I initially thought it was a specialist for microscopes. I wasn’t sure how a microscope specialist was related to a court reporter, but I heard the term frequently enough to know there was some relation. It made much more sense later learning that a scopist is an editor for court reporters, someone who knows the steno language like they do and can assist them in the production of the transcript.

The term comes from the first computers. They had a diode scope to the screen, so those who used them were called scopists. Not overly original, but I’m sure they thought the name could be revised later. If they were using the same logic today, a scopist would be called a flat screener. In hindsight, I suppose scopist is okay.

A court reporter will write the transcript using a shorthand language known as Stenography (Steno). This steno is translated into a computer-aided translation software known as CAT. There are several versions of CAT software (I use Case CATalyst so obviously that one’s the best), but the concepts of them are all the same.

A scopist has two primary responsibilities. The first is to correct all the words that were mistranslated throughout the transcript. These are commonly called mistrans and can be found by reading the transcript, frequently pairing it would the audio, and deciphering which words were not translated correctly.

The other primary responsibility is to replace and correct all the words that were not translated at all. These are commonly called untrans. Untrans are easy to catch since they are, quite literally, not translated and are still the steno language.

There are many other responsibilities of a scopist, but there are also many other blog posts to write. 😉

“Remove the comma, replace the comma, remove the comma, replace the comma…” – R.D. Ronald

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