My favourite app for work – text-to-speech

Image of cover of Talk Back CD text-to-speech software

As I was working on my shiny new, state-of-the-art SSD drive laptop this morning, I realised I hadn’t yet loaded my text-to-speech app. It also occurred to me that this app is probably one of the most vital pieces of kit in my translator’s toolbox.

Now, the interesting thing about this tiny little app is this. As it says on the low-res ink-jet printed back cover of the CD, it works ‘in almost any application in Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT4 and XP. It does not work in ME.’ (ME – now what was that again?)

So that gives you an idea of how old it is. (Sadly, it’s no longer available – so I guard that CD with my life!)

But it also installs and works perfectly on my 64-bit Windows 10 laptop, as I discovered when I loaded it with bated breath. Look – there were all those old-style installation windows that we all used to know and love! And it still works flawlessly. The guys who created it are my heroes. I wish I could remember who they were. I’d send them a thank-you present.

So why is it my favourite app?

Well, I use it for checking (revising) my translations. Now, any translator readers will probably be scratching their heads at this point. Normally, translators check their work by comparing the foreign language document (we call this the source text) with the translation (the target text) by placing the printouts side by side, or often using a side-by-side view in a computer-aided translation tool (CAT tool).

But what I do is to have the enthusiastically voiced Charles (you can customise the voices in Talk Back) read out my translation to me while I follow the German or Dutch version on the screen.

Having your work read out to you by a text-to-speech app, a family member, or even the dog – OK, there are limits – gives you a whole new perspective on the quality and flow of the words. It’s a fact (but don’t ask me where I read this) that using a different part of your brain to process the same information gives you a different take on it and helps you pick up on things you may have missed.

You can read more about why I use text-to-speech for revising my translations in my guest blog post on translator marketing guru Tess Whitty’s blog:

So that’s my favourite app for work. What’s yours?


4 responses to “My favourite app for work – text-to-speech”

  1. Gerald Dennett says:

    Kari, nice article. In the old days it was not uncommon to read the source text onto a Dictaphone and then play it back while your read your translation.

  2. Jayne Fox says:

    I use text-to-speech to review my translations, too. I use Narrator, which is built into MS Word. To make things a bit easier, I’ve added Narrator to the Quick Access Toolbar. I find text-to-speech very helpful, and am surprised you don’t hear more translators recommending it.

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