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Boosting Translation Productivity: Taking the Plunge into Voice Recognition – Part 1 bY Japanese Translation Company

This week, I finally took the plunge! 

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After considering it, but never quite doing it for many years, and dipping my toe in the water with free versions, I laid out some hard-earned yen on some voice recognition software. After a few days of working with it, I feel that there are very few downsides and some major upsides in the use of voice recognition software, especially as concerns boosting translation project productivity.

One maxim that I try, often unsuccessfully, to live by is that you should aim to do one thing every day that will save you time in the future. Voice recognition certainly comes under this category. You need to spend time training the software to understand your voice and you may have to adapt the way you work (more on this next time), but it will definitely save you time in the long run.

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Let us look at the stats. Very few people can type at speeds of more than 50 words per minute (WPM) and the average business typing speeds are closer to 40WPM. The most popular voice recognition software (and the one I am using) claims the ability to handle up to 200WPM.  More realistic for most people is a speed of half of that, but even at 100WPM, you are still working at 2.5 times the speed at which you can type.

Personally, I found, even before training the software properly, that it could recognize 120WPM with about 90% accuracy. You should get closer to 95% accuracy if you are diligent in training the software. This means, of course, that you will need to go back and correct your work, but even when typing at 40WPM it is unlikely you will get 100% accuracy either.

Japanese translators, including freelancers, at the end of the day, are paid based on output. I have calculated in some months that I type around 300,000 words. Obviously, translation involves thinking time as well as just typing time, so you are unlikely to see a 2.5 times increase in overall output, but even if you could get a 1.5-2 times increase, it is surely worth doing.

I will continue to explore this topic over the next few weeks as I spend more time using the software, and explain more of its advantages and also some possible drawbacks in using it.

About the Author
Simon Way is a contributing author to SAECULII YK, the owner of the Japanese Translation Company Tokyo, Japan. Visit SAECULII for the latest professional case studies, articles and news by Japanese Translation Service

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