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Humanist Archives: Nov. 4, 2019, 5:58 a.m. Humanist 33.371 - speech-to-text

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 371.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

    [1]    From: Henry Schaffer 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.368: speech-to-text (112)

    [2]    From: Ken Friedman 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.368: speech-to-text (29)

        Date: 2019-11-03 19:17:22+00:00
        From: Henry Schaffer 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.368: speech-to-text

Ben Benzon discusses a serious problem with respect to translation, and I'd
like to extend this a bit with two examples;

1) A colleague brought me an article, in Spanish, on quantitative genetics.
He was having trouble with the phrase "levels of liberty" (likely it was
"niveles de libertad") While I don't know Spanish, I was able to translate
this into English. Is it obvious?

2) There was a legendary presentation "How to Wreck a Nice Beach" and then
later a book with the same title. Say it quickly a few times to get the

--henry schaffer

P.S. Anyone who took statistics, especially including the Analysis of
Variance should have come across the descriptive phrase "degrees of
freedom". Should it be considered an idiom?

On Sun, Nov 3, 2019 at 1:02 AM Humanist  wrote:

>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 368.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                    Hosted by King's Digital Lab
>                        www.dhhumanist.org
>                 Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
>         Date: 2019-11-02 13:06:41+00:00
>         From: Bill Benzon 
>         Subject: Google speech-to-text on YouTube is impressive
> Willard and fellow humanists:
> Every once in awhile I transcribe a bit of speech from a YouTube video. It
> is
> tedious work. I can't type fast enough to transcribe in real time and even
> if
> I could, the sound is not always clear. So I listen to a segment, stop the
> video, and transcribe what I just heard. If I'm not sure, I've got to go
> back a bit and listen again. But YouTube doesn't give you much control over
> just how far back you go. More often than not I go back too far and waste
> time
> listening to stuff I've already transcribed.
> I was doing this yesterday when, in poking around, I accidentally hit the
> switch
> that toggled closed captions. And all of a sudden I noticed two lines of
> transcribed words crawling across the bottom of the video. And they were
> pretty
> accurate, accurate enough to make transcription a bit easier. Just stop the
> video and copy what you see on the screen. If it's not completely accurate,
> what you see nonetheless is enough to cue you so you can type a more
> version.
> I don't know just when this started happening. Google acquired YouTube
> over a
> decade ago (in 2006) and it would have been since then. I'd guess it was in
> the last five years.
> Now to the point: To a first approximation this is the same kind of
> machine-
> learning technology that powers Google Translate. Google Translate is
> certainly
> not perfect and, for many purposes, it may not even be very good. But for
> casual
> use it is useful and certainly better than nothing. I'd guess that most of
> us
> -- when we're not caught up in being defensive about computing ­-- find
> Google Translate pretty impressive. But speech-to-text? Not impressive,
> routine.
> And yet the underlying technology is pretty much the same. In neither case
> does
> the machine understand language. But we know that translation requires
> understanding and reflexively and mistakenly project such understanding to
> the
> machine. But transcription seems easier. You're just writing down what you
> hear, but that doesn't require real understanding.
> In these cases our untutored intuitions betray us. Reasonably accurate
> speech-
> to-text is no more and no less impressive and crude translation. Though to
> the
> extent that the ordinary sense of "translate"†" implies understanding,
> Google
> Translate doesn't do translation. What would we call what it does?
> Transmute?
> That seems more accurate: Google Transmute.
> Finally, I note that when I'm having difficulty with transcription I call
> on
> my understanding of what's being said. And I'm pretty sure I'd be useless
> at trying to transcribe any language other than English; understanding
> aside, my
> ear isn't tuned to any other language. In speech-to-text it's the need to
> tune the machine to the language that requires machine learning of large
> piles
> of data.
> Bill Benzon
> bbenzon@mindspring.com
> 917-717-9841
> http://new-savanna.blogspot.com/ 
> http://www.facebook.com/bill.benzon 
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/stc4blues/
> https://independent.academia.edu/BillBenzon
> http://www.bergenarches.com 

        Date: 2019-11-03 06:12:32+00:00
        From: Ken Friedman 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.368: speech-to-text

Dear Colleagues,

This is a slightly different issue, but if you are looking for good speech-to-
text software, the company Nuance makes good software that will allow you to
record spoken words and turn them into text. You'll want to do a final edit of
the text, but as I understand it, the quality is quite high so that you're
only editing - you're not worrying too much about the words.

Learn more here:




Ken Friedman, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | 设计 She Ji. The
Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Tongji University in
Cooperation with Elsevier | URL: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/she-ji-the-

Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation
| Tongji University | Shanghai, China ||| Eminent Scholar | College of Design,
Art, Architecture, and Planning | University of Cincinnati ||| Email
ken.friedman.sheji@icloud.com | Academia https://tongji.academia.edu/KenFriedman
| D&I http://tjdi.tongji.edu.cn

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