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Voice Technology Translates into Success for Professional Linguists

Professional translator Dr. Dragoș Ciobanu is a Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Leeds. He needed help speeding up text-entry tasks.

Documents can be sent and shared globally with such ease and speed. Therefore, there’s even greater demand for quick, but still highly accurate translations.

Even in an age of free online services that provide approximate translations, many industries – from automotive, healthcare, pharmaceutical, legal, manufacturing and advertising – depend more than ever on true multilingual communication experts.

Professional translator Dr. Dragoș Ciobanu is a Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Leeds. He runs the MA in Applied Translation Studies (MAATS) and has a background in languages. Dragos started his career as an in-house translator and technical writer for a large multinational communications company.

Dragoș now specialises in translation technologies such as Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT), corpus, Machine Translation, and Computer-Assisted Language Learning tools.

During his time at the University of Leeds, he has been involved in several large-scale collaborative projects. More specifically, in the field of CAT-tools training, interpreter training and global online training funded by UK institutions, the EU, or international organisations such as UNICEF.




Creating the Translator’s Toolkit

Today, technology is a translator’s ally. In his arsenal of products that facilitate the translation process, Dragoș uses Dragon speech recognition to ensure the speed and accuracy of translated content.

He is using voice technology, created by Nuance Communication called Dragon.

Dragon is currently the fastest and most accurate speech recognition software available for the PC;  It has been designed to transform the PC experience.

By turning the user’s voice into text and actionable commands, it delivers accuracy rates of up to 99%. Dragon can transcribe at up to 160 words per minute. Obviously, this is much faster than most people can type.

Research from one of Dragoș’s projects shows that professional translators value the benefits of adding speech recognition technology to their typical workflow. By speeding up navigation and text-entry tasks dramatically, Dragon helps users get more done on their computers.

Dragoș explains: “When combined with the CAT tools, Dragon speeds up the work of the translator significantly. Professionals are more productive when using Dragon for dictation. Furthermore, the ability to customise commands is also a very useful function which helps them save time.”

Dragos went on to say: “The creation of the first translated draft can be sped up hugely, thanks to the very accurate dictation and on-the-fly vocabulary training which Dragon offers. Professional translators report significant time savings and an increase in quality.”

Assisting the translator further is Dragon’s ability to read aloud the transcribed copy. This feature makes it easier to spot any errors.



Perfect Partners

Ensuring a smooth Dragon deployment at the University of Leeds was authorised Nuance reseller partner, VoicePower.

Dragon was happy with the service provided by VoicePower: “They were extremely helpful in terms of getting us set up. I really wanted to get Dragon up and running quickly for a high-profile event. This is the training week we run in the Centre for Translation Studies every year with Heads of Translation Services from the UN and EU.”

“With their knowledge and expertise, VoicePower was able to deploy Dragon within a week” thanked Dragoș.

Currently, Dragoș is running a research project funded by the University of Leeds Ignite programme. He intends to see how professional translators can further benefit from using speech recognition.

“I want to see what functions professional translators use, to understand how we can better customise some Dragon commands. Ultimately this would optimise their workflow process and increase quality and productivity.”

In the survey I conducted recently as part of my research, 100% of translators stated they used Dragon voice technology. So, any improvements I can identify in my current project will benefit many of the 330,000 professional linguists globally*”

Dragoș isn’t surprised that so many professional translators have opted for the speech recognition route:

“When you compare the accuracy of a dictated document to one that’s been typed, especially one created by non-touch-typists under time pressures, there are far fewer errors.”

Given that the translation industry-standard productivity target is up to 2,500 words a day, the need to minimise mistakes is vital, not just for accuracy, but for speed, too.





Nuance logo - Dragon speech recognition manufacturers




A New Dynamic with Dragon

Dragoș is impressed by Dragon’s performance and ease of use:

“I can’t deny I’m a big Dragon fan. Not only is it fast and accurate, but with the new version you don’t need to train it as much at the start, so you can be up and running immediately.”

Beyond its performance and flexibility, Dragon delivers a further benefit to users: in a typical working week, people spend on average five hours and 41 minutes per day sitting at their desk** which can be bad for your physical health, and potentially your mental well-being.

With that in mind, Dragoș believes that Dragon contributes to a healthier way of working.

“Anyone who uses the keyboard and mouse for a prolonged period runs the risk of eye strain, poor posture or can be exposed to Repetitive Strain-type injuries. With Dragon, many of these very real risks can be avoided.  It’s a win-win!”

With the role Dragon plays, it is little wonder that Dragoș concludes by stating, “For professional translators, I would say that speech recognition is an essential tool. Moreover, if you have the privilege of working in English, Dragon is the best tool available.”





* British Psychological Society (BPS), January 15, 2012
** p:94 – Status of the Translation Profession in the European Union report.

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