Text To Speech, or the other side of the dictation coin

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Note: Originally posted on PEEMPIP because I was too lazy to put it here first.

So, I’ve gone on how to talk to a computer or mobile phone in order to convert our words (or pre-caffeine fix mumbling, in my case) into neatly arranged characters, in the hope of forming words and subsequently, coherent sentences. Now, what about reversing those roles, and how can this be useful for us translators/reviewers?

Well, both Dragon Dictation and OS/X or iOS allow for the conversion of text to speech (TTS), i.e. to have written text get read aloud in a given language.

Now, as translators, we’ve all had to deal with the nice and subtle ways our brain plays tricks on us when we review our handy work. Simple mistakes are often overlooked, simply because the eye/brain combination developed into a highly advanced pattern recognition mechanism that makes up for missing individual elements. When I review my own work, I print it out, and read it again, and again, and again with a red marker on my hand. And I always find new things on every review.

Where TTS comes into play it is as an ancillary tool for said process. You learn not to trust your eyes as they run over the lines on a computer screen, but what about your ears? Even better, what about your eyes AND your ears, simultaneously.

A current and very important part of my review processes includes this exact tool and combination of senses. As soon as I run a spelling and grammar check on my translations, the next stage is reading the document on the computer screen WHILE it is being read aloud by the machine.

Some coordination is required, but the audio aspect increases concentration on the review, and any abnormalities, such a missing comma, a misplaced letter that causes a spelling mistake to go unnoticed because it results in a valid word, an overly long sentence – all of these quickly become immediately apparent when the text is being read to you.

And the advantage of having it being read to you while you read it yourself at the same time then becomes obvious: when you found something that requires correction, you are already at the correct position in the text to implement any necessary changes!

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