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Dancing with a Dragon: Conference Session on Voice Recognition

November 17th, 2012 | by LTD | 5 Comments

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:

Read on »

Text-To-Speech (TTS) Tools for the Translator/Interpreter

February 10th, 2008 | by Naomi de Moraes | No Comments

Most translators work solely with the printed word, and some are beginning to use Speech-to-Text tools like Dragon Naturally Speaking, 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 kind of tool?

  • 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 terminology 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 uses a speech-to-text tool to capture a first draft of the translation).

How can anyone use this kind of tool?

  • To record 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.
  • To avoid excessive eye strain by having program read emails or other text while listener does other tasks.

In my experience, the Microsoft voices, which are always free, are very painful to listen to for any length of time. If your objective is to simply proof a list of numbers or similar, you may be able to use a free product. Note that Dragon Naturally Speaking has a basic text-to-speech function that may be all you need, if you already have Dragon installed on your PC. The AT&T Natural Voices used by many TTS programs seem to me to be the best overall, but some of the Nuance RealSpeak voices are very good too.

The Text-to-Speech page on this site summarizes the features of the four main programs I was able to find on the Internet: NaturalReader, ReadPlease, Text2go and TextAloud.

I would be interested in hearing from readers (in the comments):

  1. Which tool you like best, and why.
  2. What you use TTS for, both when translating and otherwise.

Naomi de Moraes