Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dictation time!

Something is different about this blog post. I'm not writing it. Rather, I am talking into a microphone! Friends have told me about dictation software before but this is my first experience with it… it's amazing! You have to read a certain text into it for a few minutes for it to recognize the way you speak and then you're good to go - even if you talk really fast like I do! (Indeed, it does best when you just rattle on; it knows how to pick out sentence structure, and can generally distinguish homonyms from each other this way. The transcription comes out not word by word but string of words by string of words.)

I ordered it to help me with the book, needless to say. Anything which can get the words out of the ether and on to the page is a welcome friend. I'm not sure it will help me write the damn thing, but it's already been an enormous help in note-taking. For instance, imagine my delight in discovering that I could dictate even from that 1574 translation of Calvin's sermons on Job! (I tried to modernize as I read, but a few times I forgot and it did it for me: the dictator has [I said "hath"] cause to rejoice.)

So far there have been only a few words and names it simply could not recognize. Some are archaic, like “mislike" for “dislike”; others which I would have thought were archaic, such as "behooves,” it recognizes (in a sentence: for the software to work, it behooves you to speak quickly)! As for names, Job often becomes just Joe. Eliphaz for some reason is in the database, but build that, so far, and Ellie who are not. (Got that?) Other Bible names as well as Aristotle, Maimonides, and Aquinas are in there, but the first few times I mentioned Calvin the dictation software heard Taliban! The software stumbles over "hiddenness"; sometimes it writes “hit or miss" and others "hipness"! Meanwhile the noun form of the allegorical usually comes out as Bill Clinton's vice president. And "wholly obey" came out as - "totally okay"!?! It's too wise by half!

But I'm not complaining, not really. It's possible to read things allowed without really processing what you're saying, so having to go over it one more time to make sure that everything has come out right taxi helps me digest it. (You'll have guessed that I didn't mean allowed in that sense and wasn't, actually, hailing a taxi…) I generally do pretty well in dictating, perhaps because of experience teaching English. (I also read aloud quite often, both in classes and for my own edification.) But I do occasionally mumble… maybe this will help me with that too!

[Just for the fun of it I'll try reading the text from a few days ago: So then, when soever God gives us the knowledge of his word, let us learn to receive it with such reverence, as a (our) receiving of it may not be to deface good things, nor to set the (a) color upon evil things, as oftentimes those of the most sharp wit (that be most sharpwitted) and cunning, do overshoot themselves, and abuse the knowledge that God has given them, under deceit and knocking us, turning all things topsy-turvy, in such wise as they do nothing but snarl themselves. Considering therefore how all men are given to such infirmity: it stands us so much the more on hand, to pray God give us the grace to apply his word to such use as he has ordained it: that is to it (wit), to pureness and simplicity. And thus you see what we ought to consider in effect. But now that we understand what is in this book: we must lay forth these matters more at length, in such sort as the things that we have but lightly touched, maybe (may be) laid forth at large according to the process of the history. – not bad, not bad at all!!]


Helena said...

"build that" and "Ellie who" cracked me up. :)

Robert Whalley said...

I bought this a year ago and it still amazes me, with the occasional blooper!