Learning about My Computer Speech Recognition Program

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AJ Cann Flickr


Today I have set up my Windows 8 speech recognition program so I can dictate to my MS Word files. In the past while using XP and Vista, I did not find the speech recognition to be very efficient. I am hoping that Microsoft has improved the technology so that I will be more efficient in dictating my writing projects.


While setting up my new speech recognition program, I took the time to read extra dictation to the speech recognition program. The information I read was very interesting. It explained that speech recognition started with the telephone system. Businesses used it to speed up customer transactions.


Compared to speech recognition programs like this one, the telephone systems were fairly simple. The computer recognized a fixed number of customer responses, such as account numbers, yes or no answers, or another anticipated responses. It is not that easy for dictation programs, such as Microsoft speech recognition.


In a speech recognition program, the speaker may say almost anything. The computer has a more difficult task when it handles dictation. Since accuracy is important to writers, it is essential that the program is accurate in its interpretation of the user’s dictation. Also, time is money so dictation programs need to be efficient and not need a lot of editing and correction.


However, users need to proofread their pieces thoroughly. For example, Cat Rambo let one slip in her article “Tools For Writers: Using Dragon Dictate.” The computer interpreted her dictation as “inconsiderate.” Here it is:

“…I have been very satisfied with the results, inconsiderate well worth the money, if only for the productivity boost.” (Italics mine)

I imagine she was saying “… I consider it…” We’re all guilty of a “slip of the tongue” and this is the Dragon’s slip of tongue.


Many famous writers dictate their works. One of the most prolific writers, Barbara Cartland, dictated her novels and nonfiction books into a tape recorder and had her secretary type up her works. This perhaps is one of the most efficient ways to dictate your work, but it is also one of the most expensive.


Various writers use computer dictation programs such as the one I am using. It has the advantage of being free. The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ applies to dictation programs as well as many other things. Most writers use paid programs such as Dragon® NaturallySpeaking


As with countless other things in life, there is a learning curve for both the computer and me. For example, when I do not know a fact or cannot think of the word, I insert a “capital T capital K.” Notice how the computer wrote “TK.” I am hoping that it will learn how to spell the simple “TK” and not write “capital T capital K” every time.


The goal of computer programmers is to make a speech recognition program that will be as efficient as two people talking to each other. Future programs will be able to distinguish between dictation and conversation. This would be handy if you got a telephone call in the middle of the dictation and forgot to turn off the speech recognition program.


I am sure that future programs will also filter out background noises. When our nephew was reroofing our house, the computer inserted “BUTT BUTT BUTT BUTT” into my articles. I was very puzzled! I had not said that. When I came back from getting a cup of coffee — to smooth over my ruffled feathers –, I heard him pounding the nails in the roof and watched the computer write “BUTT BUTT BUTT BUTT” across the page.


That article definitely needed a lot of proofreading! 

Have you ever tried using your computer’s speech recognition program? You can use it to command your computer to do simple tasks like open start screen, open mail, and other things. For example, while writing this, the program did open my mail instead of simply writing the words! Sometimes it can be too efficient.

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