Proof listening

I first heard about proof listening a few years ago in this JAT article. Proof listening for translation generally means using a text-to-speech program to listen to your translation. Microsoft provides a free TTS engine with voices (although they are somewhat cheesy). If you have Windows 2000 or later, it should already be installed, although you may want to get some additional voices (some here as well).

Proof listening is a great way to catch errors and strange phrasing ("translationese"), because often our ears catch what our eyes will just roll over (especially if you wrote the translation yourself). Proof listening also lets you read the original while listening to the translation, which makes it easier to catch errors and omissions.

The synthetic voices do take some getting used to, but once you do, I've found this to be a valuable tool for ensuring the quality of my translations.

Microsoft even has Japanese voices (one male and one female) that will read Japanese for you, although the Japanese voices are much worse than the English ones.

The JAT article mentions an application that can be used for proof listening: a free program called Say Hello! This is a neat little program, but I found it a hassle to have to copy my text into it in order to proof listen. Then if I had a correction, I'd need to go back to my translation, find that spot, make the correction, then copy it back to Say Hello! to listen again…

The WordSpeaker toolbar

That was basically my motivation behind writing WordSpeaker. I wanted to do my proof listening from right within Word, with the ability to stop, go back/forward, and do some simple configuration. It works fairly well, despite being written in unfashionable Visual Basic. Lately I've been considering delving back into the code to write add-ins for MS PowerPoint and Excel, as well as a tie-in with translation memory for reviewing. If I do that, I'll probably port to Python first, of course, since Python is such a joy to work with (especially compared to VB).

1 comment to Proof listening

  • Just tested WordSpeaker and it works fine. Would request option to assign keyboard shortcuts at least for switching ON and switching OFF. Also, how does one add additional voices?

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