Everyone who knows me discovers that I am a Civil War buff. In grade school, we all had to memorize Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Over the years, I have heard various renditions of the speech. Newspaper reporters recorded what they thought they heard, and published it. Lincoln himself made at least five existing copies, but even he had slight variations in some of the copies.
In the last sentence, most auditory renditions emphasize the following words that I have capitalized: OF, BY and FOR the people. But I heard one reading that emphasized a different word: of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, and for the PEOPLE.
The first interpretation deals with governmental process, while the latter emphasizes who is the beneficiary of that process. That’s different. We don’t know how Lincoln delivered his speech, since it was not audibly recorded. And that’s my point.
President Trump released his filtered version of his conversation with the president of Ukraine. Many, including Trump, political experts and reporters, referred to this as a “transcript.” I would suggest they all borrow that old standby, Webster’s Dictionary: A transcript is a written, printed, or typed copy of dictated or recorded material.
The document that was released is titled “memorandum of telephone conversation.” Webster defines memorandum as an informal written record, an informal diplomatic communication, or an informal written record of an agreement that has not yet become official.
In fine print on the bottom of page one is a caution: A memorandum is not a verbatim transcript. The process was explained on public television by an expert.
Three Situation Room duty officers are listening live to the telephone conversation, each furiously typing on his computer what he thinks he heard. Afterward, all three get together to iron out any differences.
Matthew Farina, Southern Pines