A weak compilation hides historical facts

Akram Dashtban
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


The harms of transcribing the texts in oral history interview is one of the most important and serious issues in the field of compilation and writing; because it can hide part of the historical facts forever. What you are going to read is a short interview with Seyyed Ghasem Yahosseini, one of the well-known persons in the field of oral history, who give an overview on the harms of transcribing the texts of interviews.

Yahossseni spoke about the harms of transcribing the texts in oral history interview:" In general, the common method of compiling oral history in our country is done through the first person singular. In this method, the compiler, by eliminating the questions, compiles and narrates a text in he first person singular. These types of books are mostly published by Surah Mehr Publications. There is another mostly rare method that compiles text in the form of an interview and in the form of questions and answers."

Yahosseini believes: "In both methods, the compiler has to edit and intervene text but not, in fact, to transcribe the narrator's words exactly; because most narrators who narrate memories do not have much control over speech and written literature. Transcribing the text in the narrator's narrative style is tedious and boring, and does not persuaded readers to read. Here, questions and answers in literary and artistic criteria and the extent to which the narrator's speech style is set cause the narrator's text to be rewritten in the first person singular."

Stating that some people believe that the editor should transcribe the text like the narrator's words, Yahosseini added:" To show the harms of this type of writing, I spent 12 minutes of an interview with its all the words, phrases and unstructured sentences stated by interviewee, and then I proved that this method of transcription is not suitable. He continued: The editor must recreate the words of the narrator by preserving the tone and words; also carefully follow the rules of grammar and etiquette. Of course, part of this is done by the editor, but the editor must also know how to edit and apply these rules to the original text. One of the harms in the transcribed text of interview is that the compiler put own words into narrator's mouth. That is, if narrator uses fifty words in his speech, the compiler will use 150 words in compilation and editing text, and this is the biggest damage in writing memories. Of course, the compiler also gives reasons for it; For example, compiler wants a text to be attractive. In my opinion, the attractiveness of the text is different from the inclusion of the narrator's imagination and mentality in a text. In fact, if compiler masters on work and acquires sufficient skills, he / she will narrate in a way that does not harm main words of narrator's speech."

Referring to some published texts, he explained: "In a series of memoirs and oral histories, the memoir is turned into "Now-writing" by some people and institutions. That is, we have gone through the date of that narration and are writing to be only interesting for people today. In many cases, we see that the political taste of narrator is the center of gravity in narration."

Yahosseini added: "Another harms of the text of interview is that the questions and answers are based on the mind of narrator and interviewer, while the interviewer, as a questioner, should know that there are things unknown should be known. But we see that the two parties who are being interviewed (interviewer and interviewee) follow the material according to their mentality, and as a result, the narrator may not narrate all the event completely and compiler may not bring all the recounted memoirs; therefore, only 30 percent of event will be published, and the rest will be ignored."

In the end, he said: "I know that these harms lead to the distortion of history over time and present history in a pasteurized form, whereas the events of war have been much more violent and with more adversities. Those who went to war were ordinary people who sometimes made some mistakes, maybe they were jealous of each other, or they hated each other, or they competed with each other, etc. But in the narrations we see the environment of war is a pasteurized one that is narrated without any of the mistakes of ordinary people, as if they were all inaccessible and extraordinary human beings."

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