Corrupting The Dragon

*F-BOMB ALERT*  This post contains a non-comprehensive list of swearwords and assorted vulgarities

When my nieces and nephews were young, I expended quite a bit of effort censoring my language while they were present.  When they finally became adults, I breathed a giant sigh of relief and promptly shocked the shit out of them when I reverted to my normal vocabulary.

I didn’t really mean to let it out all at once; it was just that I was so glad to finally be past the point where I could be accused of corrupting innocents.  I knew they’d heard it all before in school long before they ever heard those words pass my lips, but I didn’t want to be accused of being a bad example.

(Though, come to think of it, I’m still a bad example.  But at least as adults they can choose whether it’s more appropriate to follow my bad example or just pretend they don’t know me.)

Anyhow, my point is:  I thought my days as a corrupting influence were over.

I was wrong.  Last week I corrupted a dragon.

Not a mythical beast (which would have been oh-so-cool), but a software dragon.  Dragon Naturally Speaking, to be exact.  It’s supposed to transcribe spoken words into typed text and I’m always looking for ways to streamline my work, so several weeks before Christmas I bit the bullet and laid my money down.  Then I got so busy I didn’t have time to set it up.

But I finally had time to tackle it last week.  After a rocky start in which it pretended to recognize my microphone but in fact ignored it (causing me to exercise my considerable vocabulary once again), I got everything installed and ready to go.

Dragon learns your vocal quirks and vocabulary as it goes along.  One of the ways it does this is by reading through documents you’ve written and learning all the words that aren’t currently in its database.

You see where this is going, don’t you?

Yep, Dragon wanted to learn from me.  And hoo-boy, did it!  I was afraid its little software synapses were going to melt.

Its analysis of my latest book took quite a bit of time.  Then it spat out a list of ‘new words’ that looked like a tutorial for a preacher’s son off the leash for the first time:

dragon vocabulary

dragon vocabulary2

I didn’t know whether to laugh or be ashamed of myself.  (I laughed, of course.  Uproariously.)  And I foresee even more laughter in the future, when the software mistakes innocent words for their less polite counterparts.  Let’s just say that I won’t be using it anytime soon for writing business emails (unless I scrupulously edit it first).

To tell the truth, I’m little bit pleased that the next time Dragon messes up and makes me emit a burst of profanity, it’ll actually understand what I’m trying to say.

But I haven’t activated its ‘talk back’ feature yet.  Somehow that just seems like asking for trouble…

Anybody else ever used a speech-to-text program?  Any tips for getting the Dragon to sit up and pay attention?

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70 thoughts on “Corrupting The Dragon

  1. People who can dictate complete sentences and paragraphs leave me in awe. I have to see what I am saying in order to write. Now if you give me 10 minutes and a topic, I can speak off the cuff fairly well. Why is that, I wonder?


    • That’s amazing. I hate speaking off the cuff – I can do it, and others tell me I’ve done a good job, but I always feel like an absolute idiot.

      I’ve also discovered that unless I type words with my fingers, I can’t remember what I wrote after the fact. Normally I can quote long stretches of what I’ve just written, and I’ll often be in the middle of something else entirely when I suddenly realize I need to change my wording. When I dictated to Dragon, there was nothing left inside my brain afterward. I couldn’t remember what I’d written until I re-read it. Weird.


  2. I’d never heard of Dragon until now. My mind was doing things like:
    Did Dragon enter into a cussing competition with Diane?

    Did she break it totally when it AI’d a word and decided it could not compute?

    Or did the poor thing give up and go to the Coor’s site to get drunk…..?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wait, you mean it’s possible to go to the Coor’s site and get drunk? *surfs hurriedly over to Coors* Update: Nope, guess it only works for software programs. *sigh*

      I’m afraid that pitting Dragon against me in a cussing competition would be a sorely one-sided contest, but I hope to keep training it until it becomes a worthy opponent. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I bet Dragon’s mother is very upset. When Dragon comes home from work at Diane’s house and begins spewing new fiery language around the den the dragon mother is chasing him around with a giant wooden stick. So funny!
    Do you like the software when you are not swearing at it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Poor Dragon. They should have checked to make sure I’d provide a suitable home before they let me buy him. 🙂

      So far I’m not crazy about the software because it really isn’t designed for novel-writing. It’s laborious to add all the quote marks and punctuation for dialog and it’s very slow to edit, which is a giant pain for me because I edit dozens if not hundreds of times throughout my writing process. I think it would be good for writing uncomplicated text like reports or emails or blog posts, though.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I am a nurse and read medical charts all day. While I’ve read many “Dragon-speak” phrases one of my favorites was “math addict” instead of “meth addict”. I had no idea math addiction was cause for alarm!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you got a laugh! When that dialog box popped up with all the swearwords in it, I laughed so hard Hubby hurried over to find out what was so funny. And then the two of us laughed ourselves silly(er)!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yup, at the very first opportunity we must learn the ripe words in a new language. How else can you disguise the fact that you really can’t speak the language? They see that you caught them using colorful vocabulary and understand what was said enough to blush, they say, “Watch out! She knows the language.” Truth is you’ve only caught the occasional noun or verb and you might understand the general topic of the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My best friend, a paraplegic, uses Dragon, or something like it, from necessity. He writes a lot, so it’s pretty much indispensable for him. He’s used it for years and years and knows all the proper techniques, tricks, shortcuts, and best practices. And he hates it. He just has no choice.

    I thought about how cool it would be to use voice typing after I first heard about it years ago before I took a typing course at the local vo-tech, but the cost was outrageous at the time. It was lots cheaper to take a fifty-dollar continuing-ed course (and be reimbursed by my employer after I successfully passed the course, which was even cooler) than it was to pop for the high-buck software.

    That was then, and this is now. The software is much cheaper and lots more effective now than it was back then, and it still sucks. I’m STILL not a blazing typist, but I can type faster and with much less frustration than I can use a voice typing program. Plus, I don’t have to speak what I’m typing when and where others can hear me. Tried it, hated it, so I’ll just keep on with what I have now.

    But it would still be fun ruining it for who used it next. (giggle!)


    • I have serious issues with the ‘speaking-out-loud’ part, too. Nobody, not even Hubby, gets to read a single of word of my books before they’re completely finished and ready for beta reading. So dictating them out loud just makes me cringe. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder to see if Hubby is eavesdropping. Even when I’m typing, he’s bad for sneaking up behind me to try to read over my shoulder. Is it any wonder I’m paranoid about sitting with my back to a wall? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

          • Tender, thanks. Gotta wear the straight-jacket sling for six weeks. Started rehab yesterday. It’s ‘no pain, no strain’ until I get the sling off, thank goodness. Lots easier than a knee replacement!

            Just the same old rehab drudgery for three months, then I get the other one done over the Christmas break. I can teach with a wing in a sling, so to speak, then the other knee swapped out next summer.

            Then a hip a year until I run out of ’em. (Gad, I hope that doesn’t take more than a couple of years, come to think of it!)

            But at least the drugs were good this time. And I was done with those after three days, which is a welcome change, too.

            Basically, life is too good to waste on mere mortals. And thanks for asking.

            So, how’s your life cranking?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Diane beat me to the punch on asking how your shoulder was doing. Glad to hear you’re in rehab already…er, that didn’t come out quite right. Or did it, LOL? Did you ask for a volume discount from your Ortho group? If you haven’t yet, better hop on that, those bastards owe you that much!
              I’ve actually achieved moments of nearly upright mobility without so much as even a glimmer of a duck waddle in sight, yeehaw. I guess there is hope!

              Liked by 2 people

              • Hiya, Beth! Glad you’re cranking along okay. Yep, progress is where you find it!

                I’m surprised that my stamina has dropped so much already. Once around the block and it’s time for a break. That’s a drag but fixable.

                Liked by 1 person

            • I’m glad both of you are on the mend! Man, this place is starting to sound like an ortho ward. I was just at the orthopedic surgeon’s the other day, too, but fortunately I don’t need his services yet. I’ve got a chronic spring ligament sprain from running and kickboxing, and he figures it’ll stabilize all right without surgery – my ankle is still really strong; it just hurts. So he prescribed a special anti-inflammatory rub (with a base of horse liniment, of all things), and off I went. I really like that man! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              • Hah! Horse liniment? Seriously? That’s hysterical! But remember to reply when asked which half you put it on, “The LOWER one!”

                My problem is with my frame. Big frame, small bones. It’s a big deal, come to find out. Body builder coaches love guys like me because of the larger contrast between muscle diameter at the center and joint diameter at the ends. The downside is the added stress and wear of the smaller, weaker bearing surfaces.

                Basically learned that tidbit fifty years too late. Not that I would or could have changed anything between then and now.

                All I can suggest is to take care of your joints. Fixing them isn’t particularly fun. Just sayin’…


                • Roger that! I’m lucky – so far my bones and joints are good. *fingers crossed* My bone density is still the same as a 21-year-old’s so that probably helps. Now if I could just get my ligaments to behave…

                  Liked by 1 person

              • Kind of scary when you get that people/animal treatment crossover. I’ve used “Bag Balm” for dry skin which is used by farmers for their dairy cows udders. Smells horrible, but works like a charm. What’s next though…
                Dr: Here, take this for your hemorrhoids.
                Patient: Is that a light saber?
                Dr: Errr, not exactly….

                Liked by 1 person

      • Hehe I’m kinda trying to keep my new job on the down low as we had to fight re the redundancy, but I had to ask my boss to write me a note on company letterhead with my start date, first thing he asked why.
        So I told him for a job I’m applying for, he kept coming over to my desk trying to get more information I ended having to tell him as the letter has to come from head office but I’m not sure he was listening when I said I got it

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The voice recognition software sucks. The only thing I do is swear at as you do. I also threaten it with a sledge hammer that hasn’t done much except put money in the phone company pocket.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was pretty close to getting out the sledgehammer when it was ignoring my microphone. Even now, it’ll find the microphone when I first open the program, but if I turn off the mike and then turn it on again, it can’t find it. Grrr.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I tried Dragon, but it really didn’t like my southern accent. It kept saying Maine for mine, bang for bank, and all sorts of weird things. I tried for three weeks to train it as I had heard it takes time. In the end, I parked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love the new word list. I’m not sure if I should be proud of you or concerned that the first three were names.

    I have had a bit of experience with Dragon. I hate to tell you, but the more you use it, the better it works. You learn Dragon’s quirks and Dragon learns yours.

    As for the business side, I think you can still set up a second ‘user’ on Dragon, which can build it’s own vocabulary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an excellent suggestion – thank you! That’ll save me a great deal of time and editing… if I ever get around to using it full-time. I’m finding it’s not really practical for novel-writing – I spend so much time saying, “open quotes, three words of dialog, comma, close quotes, new line…” But I think it would work much better if I was using it to write documents… or maybe blog posts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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