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Dancing with a Dragon: Conference Session on Voice Recognition

November 17th, 2012 | by LTD

Session LT-11 at ATA 2012
Presenter: Andrew D. Levine and Thomas Ennis Fennell
Reviewed by: Rubén de la Fuente

I have never used speech-to-text tools for translation work, so I was very eager to attend the Dancing with a Dragon session by Andrew Levine and Tom Ennis Fennel. They put up a good show, not only because they share interesting stuff, but also because they are funny. Here are a few highlights from their presentation:

  • Dragon integrates well with CAT tools (better with Deja-Vu and MemoQ than with Trados Studio, though). So you can work on your CAT tool as usual, and dictate translation for no matches instead of typing. Mind you, it’s very resource-consuming, so shut down unneeded apps & browser tabs.
  • Besides dictating, you can use Dragon to run commands (built-in or customized) with your voice, e.g. «skip segment», «select X». You can also create shortcuts (3 or more syllable long ideally) for very long product or organization names, e.g. Treasury will be extended to Russian National Treasury.
  • Dragon is very accurate. Andrew read a story from the front page of a local newspaper. No errors at all, in spite of him trying to throw in one or two on purpose, for demonstration purposes.
  • Dragon allows to increase productivity to 1000-2000 translated (unedited) words/hour. Productivity will vary depending on language combination, e.g. Russian into English is slower than French into English, due to huge differences in syntax between RU and EN.
  • Productivity increases will translate into tens of thousands of increased revenue yearly. I was impressed with the level of detail in these guys’ numbers: they knew how much they were making at the minute level. A good exercise of business intelligence everybody should try to do.
  • Finally, using speech-to-text is better for your health, as it will prevent or alleviate RSI injuries caused by typing. You don’t need to be sitting all the time either. You can stand and stretch while dictating. It will surely be good for your back.

Very interesting presentation, which left me wanting to purchase Dragon right away. Tom and Andrew recommended to start with the premium version, since the professional version should be reserved for very geeky translators. Geeky is good :).

Rubén R. de la Fuente has a BA in translation and interpreting from the University of Granada. He has over 10 years of experience in localization in various capacities, including as a freelance and in-house translator, reviewer, project manager, and machine translation specialist. He is currently taking a graduate course on computational linguistics. He has taught several courses and workshops about translation tools for the Universidad Alfonso X and organizations such as the Institute of Localisation Professionals, ProZ, and ecpdwebinars.co.uk. He has written articles on translation tools for ATA’s Language Technology Division. You can reach Rubén at rubo@wordbonds.es.

5 Responses to “Dancing with a Dragon: Conference Session on Voice Recognition”

  1. LTD Says:

    A compilation of language technology news aggregated under the tag “speech to text” can be found here: http://goo.gl/OySgn.

  2. Jayne Fox Says:

    Very interesting, thanks for this, Rubén! I’m keen to start using Dragon with Trados Studio if possible, so just wanted to ask – in what way does Dragon integrate better with MemoQ?

  3. Andrew Levine Says:

    Hello Jayne, I was one of the presenters of this session. Tom and I found that Dragon tended to enter text in MemoQ with a shorter delay than in Studio, and text selection by voice worked a little better in MemoQ (we never had trouble selecting text within a segment in MemoQ). However, it should really be noted that Dragon does still work very well in Studio, it is definitely an improvement over typing. I regularly use Dragon in Studio; the use of a solid-state hard drive makes the difference in input delay almost nil.

    Thanks for this great review, Rubén!

  4. Jayne Fox Says:

    Thanks for the clarification Andrew. I’ve treated myself to Dragon for Christmas and will give it a go over the holiday – looking forward to it!

  5. Ruben de la Fuente Says:

    Hi guys,

    Sorry for the late reply, I’ve only read this just now.

    @Jayne, I’d be interested in hearing how you are coping with Dragon. The presentation showed a lot of potential for this technology, so I’d like to learn more and also spread the word.

    @Andrew, fantastic presentation, very enlightening.

    Happy new year!!!

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