Speech to Text software

Astro Pen

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I Know we have discussed text to speech but has anyone any experience of speech to text programs?
Preferably onboard unplugged not an online service that will be data harvested by google or whoever. Dragon Dictate used to be one such.
 
I've used Dragon, plus some others. I have not found any that were worth the trouble, at least not for actual writing of fiction. The problematic issues for me are these.

1. Formatting. None of the apps I tried were any good at all with the somewhat arcane rules of punctuation and formatting that have to do with dialog. You have to say "paragraph" or "new line". You have to state open quotes, close quotes. Say the comma. Em-dashes can be iffy. In general, I was getting a fairly high error rate, not to mention that saying the punctuation is more disruptive than typing it.

2. Fantasy names and terms. And, in my case, foreign language words. The software will guess at it. The real problem comes when it makes different guesses at different points. If it consistently got a name wrong, then search and replace fixes it. But when there are five different spellings for the same name, then it's a labor for me.

3. Place. When I write an initial draft, I write on paper. This lets me write notes to myself, snatches of dialog, descriptions, speculation, and occasional grousing, all as one more or less continuous stream. No software is smart enough to distinguish, so it all goes into the same bucket and I have to sort it all out later.

There were other occasional bits, but the bottom line was I was spending too much time editing. That had a cascading effect of making me more self-conscious while drafting. I didn't want to be paying attention to punctuation when I was trying to get down a sharp dialog exchange.

On the other hand, it could be useful where such things matter less. Jotting notes. Brainstorming. I've read any number of people who say it's great for writing blog posts. Can't speak to that, but it does indicate it might prove useful for others. I would definitely start with free ones, to see if they fit your work habits.
 
Thanks @sknox . I have ordered an old copy of Dragon 'Naturally Speaking' to see how it goes, or doesn't. At ten bucks can't go too far wrong :unsure:
 
Be careful of accidents such as this

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Could she tell what you were playing, from the woos and the woops?
 
I Know we have discussed text to speech but has anyone any experience of speech to text programs?
Preferably onboard unplugged not an online service that will be data harvested by google or whoever. Dragon Dictate used to be one such.
Doesn't Microsoft Word have this built in?
 
Doesn't Microsoft Word have this built in?
I never knew this, but I just tried it out for the first time. It's pretty accurate, though it has the limitations sknox outlines above in terms of having to specify punctuation etc. It's weird that if you say "backspace" it will add the text "backspace" before working out what you mean and removing it along with the previous character.

I don't think it would work for me, though, for writing fiction. I just seem to think more fluidly through my fingertips.
 
Doesn't Microsoft Word have this built in?
Thanks @Brian G Turner . I use word 2002 and didn't expect it to be available but it is. I just need to dig out my word installation CD later and add it.
(y)
ps
I just did but it says it can't find proplus.msi on the office pro cd :rolleyes: hey-ho
So I'll wait for dragon.
 
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Update: Had to use the original cd, not the backup copy.
It works but is very error prone compared to, say, a current robotic call centre.
My diction is, in all modesty, quite good, so I am putting it down to being a 20 year old program.
Back to plan A
:)
 
I haven't used these in a few years, but you immediately run into "we don't talk the same way we write." We have natural pauses in our speech and most people have a LOT of filler words like... um... ah... well... and speech-to-text is really literal on those. We don't obey proper sentence structure, and speech is terribly prone to rambling.

Most importantly, speech-to-text doesn't allow you to go back and edit a poor phrasing, you get surprised with how often homonyms come into play, and you need to do it in a voiceover-quality sound stage setting, or you get all sorts of weird artifacts.

This is particularly bad for my writing style. I have a multipass process, and the first one is what I call "puke phase," where I just puke words into the word processor, stream of consciousness style. The second pass re-orders everything for proper flow, and I refine from there. Even for puke phase, with the proper sound stage, I'll often word things very poorly when I'm trying to get a thought out, and I'm never happy with how it turns out.

Overall, you could get good at doing it, but it takes focus away from the important parts of writing.
 
I'm on the look out for software that goes the other way: reads my text aloud to me. I think this would give me valuable insights for revisions.
 
So both text-to-speech and speech-to-text come with Windows. Not all apps take advantage, but you'll find the feature available in most of the tools we writers use. BTW and FTR, a big vote here for text-to-speech as an editing tool. It finds a great many mistakes that my eyes miss. Also, I get a kick out of hearing my invented words pronounced in ways I did not envision, not least because my readers (all seven of them <g>) are likely getting creative with that as well.
 
So both text-to-speech and speech-to-text come with Windows. Not all apps take advantage, but you'll find the feature available in most of the tools we writers use. BTW and FTR, a big vote here for text-to-speech as an editing tool. It finds a great many mistakes that my eyes miss. Also, I get a kick out of hearing my invented words pronounced in ways I did not envision, not least because my readers (all seven of them <g>) are likely getting creative with that as well.
Note to self: another reason to stop dicking around with Linux, pretending to be some kind of computer nerd, and just use Windows.
 

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