Training my Dragon: a translator’s review of Dragon Dictate for Mac 3

Dragon Dictate for Mac 3.0 package

First of all, I should say I’m using Dragon Dictate  to “write” this post. Secondly, I should say that it just took me five tries to get that sentence right. Still, considering that I only opened the package an hour and a half ago, and I took a 45 minute break to get groceries,  I’d say it works pretty well.

When I first opened the box, the Dragon package seemed a little sparse. All that came with the Dragon box was the installation CD, the headset, and a very short “quick reference card.”  The first step is to connect your microphone and make sure it works with your computer. Easy enough to do. Next, you install the CD and follow the instructions in the startup wizard. After you launch your installed Dragon, the program walks you through voice training and microphone set up, as well as several tutorials on the different functionalities of the program.

I began setup of the Dragon at 5 PM, and it took almost 20 minutes for the CD to install.  This seemed like a long time for a program to load onto my computer. However, the initial training session only took 10 minutes after installing the software, and now I’m writing this post. So overall, it averages out to a decent start up time.

To give you an idea of the accuracy of this program relatively “out of the box,” I am not going to edit this sentence. For this one. (That should read “or.”) I do have a window air-conditioning unit running right now so that is affecting the way the headphone understands my speech. I did not have the AC unit running while I trained my Dragon. I think some problems I’m having with this software are doing to the fact that I’m not used speaking my text. I’m used to writing my text. Learning the various voice commands for inserting punctuation, re-spelling different words, and navigating different parts of the text will also take some time. They are relatively intuitive commands, but I’m just not used to using them while I think about what to “write.”

(Please note the subtle errors in the previous paragraph, which I did not edit.)

 Dragon Dictate 3.0 for Mac desktop icon

The most common errors I am experiencing with the Dragon so far are extra spaces after periods and commas, incorrect capitalization, and misspellings of homophones. And of course, getting it to properly spell Hungarian names will be… an interesting challenge. I am also having trouble with the editing options. Sometimes when I select text, change it, and then delete the correction, the program changes the sentence more radically than I anticipate. I will update you on how easily I can train the program out of this type of error. I have high expectations, but I know it will take some patience.

Have you used dictation software before for translation? What did you think? If you haven’t used it, are there specific questions you’d like me to answer about it as I explore the program? I’m happy to test for you before you buy!

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8 thoughts on “Training my Dragon: a translator’s review of Dragon Dictate for Mac 3

      • It’s very simple to use – in System Preferences go to System > Dictation & Speech and choose the Dictation Tab. There you can switch dictation on or off, select your language (currently English, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean, all with regional variations) and choose the shortcuts to start and stop it. My experience using it is pretty similar to your comments above. Personally I used it somewhat when I had a hand problem last year, but otherwise I prefer to type as I touch type fairly fast. I also found it rather irritating having to dictate all the punctuation.

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  5. The best £25.00 I’ve ever spent on my business! (I bought the software second hand). I love dictating my translations, but I think that comes from the fact that I love interpreting and indeed concentrate on interpreting 80% of the time and also because I don’t have the patience to type…

    Happy dictating!

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