Dragon Naturally Speaking ("His wife could eat no lien")

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Sun Jun 2 23:47:51 UTC 2002

On Sun, 2 Jun 2002 Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

#    Mark Mandel types might be interested in the article in today's NEW YORK
#POST, 2 June 2002, pg. 30 (www.nypost.com).
#SPOKEN:  Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean.  And so
#betwixt the two of them, they licked the platter clean.

#   4 1/2 errors, on average, per sentence!

I believe that Clarke's Law says, "Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from a rigged demo." There should be a corollary:
"Any technology, no matter how advanced, can be made to look bad by a
rigged demo." This is such a case. What would you expect from dictating
this text to, say, a literate twelve-year-old who had not been raised
with nursery rhymes or any other texts earlier than, oh, 1970? "Betwixt"
is certainly not in the initial active vocabulary of either program. In
NatSpeak that means it cannot be recognized unless it's in a text that
the user has specified as a training sample, or until after the user has
corrected to it; thenceforward it will be in the active voc and
recognizeable, including in subsequent sessions. (This is something of a
simplification.) VV works similarly.

"Platter" is probably not in initial active voc either, and while "lean"
probably is, I expect that it is marked only as a verb, or maybe a verb
and an adjective, not a noun. And forget about the surname "Sprat", or
even the common noun "sprat" (a kind of fish) in initial active voc.

-- Mark A. Mandel
   Linguist at Large
   former Senior Linguist, Dragon Systems, Inc.

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