Sauna graham

That is a strange combination: have any of my readers ever eaten graham crackers in a sauna?  Well, unfortunately this has nothing to do with either the areas of dry or wet heat, or the crackers that can be used as a basis for pie.  Rather, it’s basically the consideration of Mondegreens!

A Monegreen is a misheard lyric in music, as I have alluded to in several previous blog posts.  This time, however, the Mondegreen is a screwed-up transcription. When closed captioning is used on a live broadcast, there is often no script available, and therefore the captions are done on the fly.

Well, if it is done via voice recognition, we know how that can screw up… in many different ways!  This particular case happened at my graduation ceremony at UNL in 2009. The video screens in the Devaney Sports Center had the live feed of the ceremony, as well as the transcription of what everyone was saying. At some point during the ceremony, the word “sonogram” was mentioned. The scribe wrote it on the closed captions as “sauna graham.”

I’ll spare the debacles that I had with speech recognition on early versions of Dragon Naturally Speaking… lest I crash my computer again! Speaking of which, please save your work on any documents now… avoid my mistakes from 16 years ago!

This thing came to mind for me a few weeks ago, when our student tea session was “Whisky 101.” We watched a video about Scotch, and because the acoustics in the conference room were terrible, we had to use the auto-generated closed captions on YouTube. That was quite a laugh for us, reading them as they went along.  Here is one example:

“[T]o stop the growth process the barley is steeped in the water spread out on the floor called peace it is then returned regularly by using wooden troubles and drapes to keep the Green School…”

The word “stop” is actually “start.” The “called peace” part is somewhat inaudible, so I can understand the strange completion heuristic. “Troubles” should be “shovels” (or maybe trowels?), “drapes” sounds more like “rakes,” and “Green School” is definitely supposed to be “grains cool.”

Don’t know if you can make the captions appear in a YouTube embed on this site. If you can’t, go to YouTube and search for “The Glendronach Distillery: The tour.”

It is often difficult to transcribe speech, due to homophones, selective attention, and variations in tone.

And the reverse process is sometimes funny, like how the weather radio pronounces “Cheyenne” or “Valentine.”

Think about it!

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