That’s Not What I Said: Transcription Errors In Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Dragon NaturallySpeakingWhen it comes to voice transcription, the most widely used software on the market is Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Dragon Systems first began offering continuous voice transcription software in 1997 and has been constantly improving the fluency and accuracy of their system ever since, with Dragon NaturallySpeaking now in its 19th iteration, including medical, legal, home, and professional versions. As it has improved, Dragon NaturallySpeaking has attracted a wider population of users, ranging from people with disabilities that interfere with their ability to type, to bloggers transcribing interviews or articles.

Glitches That Have Us in Stitches

Dragon NaturallySpeaking has a range of uses, but even through many years of improvements, there are still glitches and misunderstandings. It is not uncommon for a blogger or content writer to look back at the article they’ve been transcribing, only to find barely comprehensible sentences among the text. Just like the rest of us, Dragon NaturallySpeaking sometimes misunderstands what has been said. And those misunderstandings can lead to a great deal of humor and confusion.

At Voice Tie Bows, one blogger records some of the humorous errors his voice transcription software makes. “Mountain bikes and trails,” for example, may become “mountain biker’s entrails,” or the word “retroactive” transformed into “rich or active.” And watch out for the word “oxymoron” – for this blogger it turned into the dangerous “ax a moron.”

The blogger at Voice Tie Bows is far from the only person laughing over voice transcription errors on the internet. In fact, it is not uncommon for websites to collect some of the highlights of this error-prone software. Softduit Media highlights 23 of their favorites, including some celebrity mishaps such as “Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband,” who turns into “nor Josh out the Boers husband,” and “Christina Aguilera” who becomes “Christina ideal Arab.”

Bloggers Beware

All this is to say, pay attention! Dragon NaturallySpeaking and its ilk can be great tools for bloggers and content writers when used with care, but they are also prone to a slew of mistakes and should be proofread extra carefully. And when it comes to voice transcription, just be glad you aren’t a doctor – those medical terms can turn absurd faster than you can say “mountain biker’s entrails.”

Have you used voice transcription software when writing your blogs or content? Any tips for others?

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Bird

Bird Pilatsky is a PhD student in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. A graduate of Smith College, with a B.A. in English and the Study of Women and Gender. She works as an archivist and research assistant with particular interests in LGBT issues, disability studies, and literature. Bird also works as a summer camp counselor. She has worked as an art & layout editor, runs an active blog, and enjoys reading, running, and rollerskating.

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