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Text-To-Speech (TTS) Tools

Text-To-Speech (TTS) Tools

Most translators work solely with the printed word, and some are beginning to use Speech-to-Text tools, but few know about Text-To-Speech (TTS) Tools. In short, they convert text into audio, either on-the-go or in an audio file (mp3 or wav).

How can translators and interpreters use this?

  • To proofread their work, by having the computer read the original or the translation. This is particularly useful for verifying numbers.
  • To record lists of vocabulary words when preparing for an interpretation assignment.
  • To read aloud a text for interpretation, to practice simultaneous interpretation.
  • To read an original while translating (this might work if the original is read slowly and the translator used a speech-to-text tool to write down the translation).

How can anyone use this?

  • To record blog posts, newspaper or magazine articles for listening while away from the computer, washing dishes, jogging, etc.
  • To record study/reading material while taking courses on most subjects.

Here are some programs that convert text into speech (in alphabetical order):

NaturalReader 6.5
Free version does not create mp3 files, and has only Microsoft voice.
Professional version costs US$39.50 with one AT&T Natural voice, toolbar add-in for Word, Outlook, etc. Converts text to mp3/wav files or on-the-fly. Listen to voice samples here. Professional version has French, German and Spanish. Also has NeoSpeech voices for US English. Compatible with Vista and Office 2007.

ReadPlease Plus 2003
This tool has a free and paid version. The free version does not create sound files and uses only the Microsoft voices.
The “Plus” version uses AT&T Natural Voices (must be purchased separately) or Lernout & Hauspie voices (free, UK English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Euro Portuguese, Spanish). The Plus version, without AT&T Natural Voices, costs US$ 49.95. AT&T Natural voices must be purchased separately on the TextAloud site.

This tool can only convert text in html format from within Internet Explorer. There is a 30-day free trial that includes a Nuance RealSpeak (TM) voice. Listen to voice samples here. Only has English voices (US, UK, Australian and Indian English accents). Costs US$ 25 for program + US$ 35 for one voice.

Converts text to MP3 or WMA files, or on-the-fly. Has largest selection of voices/languages from three voice sources: AT&T Natural Voices, NeoSpeech voices, Acapela voices and Nuance RealSpeak voices. Click here to listen to samples. US & UK English, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Canadian French, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Mexican and Castilian Spanish, and Swedish. Costs US$ 29.95 for program + US$ 25–US$ 45 for a voice (some packages include two voices, price depends on voice).