When Speech to Text Lets You Down

I love my IPhone. There was a time when I thought I would never say that. For the first few months of getting used to a touch screen device I had to hold myself back from throwing it out of the window. But now, almost three years and 2 IPhones later I truly don’t know how I would get along without my phone. This little device is my calendar, my newspaper, my notebook besides obviously linking me to social media and communication generally. I know every blindie has their own strong opinion about this stuff but mine is that Apple has really set the bar for integrated accessibility. The text to speech is really excellent but another accessibility feature which I use all the time is the speech to text. This means that I can dictate messages, calendar entries, Facebook statuses etc. and my phone renders this into text. This feature makes my life super easy but there have been occasions when speech to text has let me down with hilarious / Hello area’s results. Kind of like when predictive text lets sighted people down, speech to text sometimes just doesn’t get me especially when I’m trying to speak inconspicuously in a public place or just get mumbly. Luckily, I always listen back to what has been typed before I hit send so few of the below errors have actually reached the intended recipients. These are some of the more bizarre results.

“Can you fix me in the morning?”

“Can you fetch me in the morning?”

This one happened a lot when I started using speech to text and always leaves me humming “Fix You” by Coldplay for the rest of the day.

“I am fortunately not going to be able to make it”

“I’m unfortunately not going to be able to make it”

Freudian slip?

“I do have a suitable candidate I just need to check with him if he’d be willing to take pot”

“I do have a suitable candidate I just need to check with him if he’d be willing to take part”

“Hey, so would you be willing to take pot in a research project my friend is doing?” – I don’t know, answer that for yourselves…

Hello area’s”


Okay, so I just need to say that “hello area’s” is not a thing. What? Why would I want to say hello to areas and what is with the apostrophe? Or could this refer to special designated greeting spaces, “on arrival please proceed to the hello areas”. But again, the apostrophe? Or is Areas a more common name than I imagined, “Hello Areas, how are you?” Perhaps it’s pronounced Ah-Ray-As? But again, the apostrophe?!

“I’m sorry to hear this, that is really hot”

“I’m sorry to hear this, that is really hard”

It goes without saying that this error sort of destroys the attempt at empathy. Your dog dying is not hot, not at all.

“I’m taking a break from the dance policy document I’m reading”

“I’m taking a break from the dense policy document I’m reading”

So there I was thinking that a dance policy would be fun, or at least more fun than a dense policy. No, turns out dance policies; a) exist and b) are just dense policies about regulating dances.

“We are based in Soul Trevor”

“We are based in Salt River”

Soul Trevor definitely looks like Stevie Wonder but plays the tenor sax. I’m not sure if I want to be based inside Soul Trevor though, just chilling in his large intestine….

“Parent Leigh, there is an accident on the free-way”

“Apparently there is an accident on the free-way”

“Hey Parent Hugo can you ask Parent Jenny to give me a call later, thanks”.

“I’m waiting for you in the cockpit”

“I’m waiting for you in the car park”

Hopefully I’m waiting for you to come and fly the plane and not attempting to do it myself because obvious…

“Sounds good Dyras”

“Sounds good diarised”

Parent Leigh Dyras is a home appliances brand. Again, addressing random nouns, this time of the proper variety, “Sounds good Defy, is LG planning on being there, I hope so, I haven’t seen that guy in ages!”

”Singing at waiting”

“Singing at wedding”

This is a very regular calendar entry for me and, if it’s for someone I don’t know, then this is a pretty accurate description. It generally does involve just a lot of waiting around. If I know you and have sung at your wedding, I love you and it was beautiful and amazing etc.

If you use this assistive feature please let me know if you have had similar Hello area’s situations….










2 thoughts on “When Speech to Text Lets You Down

  1. As a linguist, I’m amazed and totally not surprised at all that we still can’t get this right…

    Do I still get called ‘anarchy’? Still makes me laugh.


  2. This entry was totally hilarious!!! Thanks so much for posting… Siri and dictation let me down quite a bit as well… Thank God for voiceover and the ability to check before sending… My mishaps normally happen when stating the name of punctuation such as as ( ). It always says open paren instead of placing the symbol. When I’m at home I try to fix it through dictation and after the third time I give up and just use the keyboard… LOL


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