Oct 9, 2014

Dragon Naturally Speaking Version 13 - Review!

I've had a number of people ask me recently whether I have upgraded to Dragon Naturally Speaking version 13 for my dictation work in translation. I have not; I am still using the German version 12.5 (which includes English - I sometimes dictate poorly legible source texts in German rather than waste my time with OCR if I want to work with translation environment tools, so I need the bilingual edition). However, a colleague was kind enough to point me to this review of the new version, which gives me more than sufficient reason to upgrade soon:

I have a few YouTube videos demonstrating the use of version 11.5 in memoQ and a word processor, which seem to have generated some excitement because of the ridiculously high speed at which I can translate by dictation (and many others are much faster). However, the point of voice recognition for me is not speed and the possibly higher earnings which can result if my editing afterward is not excessive (dictation requires a completely different approach to checking your work, and there is a significant learning curve here). Also (or really more) important are:

  • greater engagement with the text on the screen, in my case leaving my hands free to point at various parts of long, complex sentences to help me sequence the translated text better as I work;
  • less physical and mental strain during my translation work (I am less tired during and after);
  • relief for hands damaged by too many years of working with vibrating power equipment (tillers and chainsaws), riding bicycles on rough ground and typing, typing, typing (some days I have to wash dishes in very hot water for an hour and load up on pain meds just to use a keyboard and mouse without tears - there may be surgery for that in my future and tools like DNS can give others relief or help prevent the sort of strain injuries too common in this profession and others which involve a lot of keyboard work). 
Dragon Naturally Speaking is currently available for U.S. English, UK English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Japanese. Given the importance of voice recognition for relieving or avoiding strain injuries as well as for productivity (translators working with voice recognition routinely have much higher outputs of good quality than the best realistic claims for crap produced by post-editing machine pseudo-translations), I sincerely hope that Nuance and others will pursue the development of speech technology for other major languages such as Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese and Greek. Such an investment is likely to produce far greater benefits all-round than any money flushed down the machine pseudo-translation toilet, and speech recognition could probably also improve the working conditions of some stressed post-editors in the HAMPsTr world.

1 comment:

  1. You are not alone Kevin. Over the past 20 years I have gotten to know many translators who also suffer from pain in their hands from excessive typing. You often have to meet people in person to learn of it - so I suspect it is a much underreported phenomenon.

    Goodness knows I am not against machine translation but I certainly agree it is eclipsing dictation as the latest technology wunderkind. My feeling is that when we bring together both technologies the future will start to look a little brighter for translators. Imagine how much better your health would be if you had learned to use Dragon from when you started to translate!

    I'm looking forward to telling this story at an upcoming industry event.


    However, we need to manage our expectations. TAUS does not derive its income from translators. It is an interest group with a very strong focus on MT and its customers' needs are not always aligned with the needs of translators (which is fine). The aim here is to plant a few seeds and see one grows.


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