ShortTalk: Dictation Made Rewarding

Executive Summary

ShortTalk is a new method for composing text by speech. This spoken command language is carefully designed to be rewarding to use, right from the beginning. In contrast to so-called “natural language technology” of available dictation systems, ShortTalk can be fluently interspersed with dictation. There are no cumbersome phrases like “go to the beginning of the line.” Instead, ShortTalk codifies natural and universal editing concepts that can be combined in command phrases, typically consisting of only two syllables.

For example, “ghin line”—with “ghin” as in “beGINning”—is an unambiguous spoken command for moving the cursor to the beginning of the line. It is a rewarding phrase, because it is faster to say “ghin line” than to find and press the home key on the keyboard.

With almost no application- or user-specific vocabulary, ShortTalk works for e-mails and structured text such as XML or source code. Analytical and empirical studies indicate that ShortTalk, combined with occasional pointing, may be faster than conventional editing using keyboard and mouse.

The technology holds the promise of making tablet-based computers attractive for text entry, since only few keys are needed to complement speech input that takes advantage of ShortTalk.

A one-minute video demo is available.


Dictation system, speech recognition, user interface, speech interface, spoken command language, editing by voice, stenophonic principle, entropy of command languages, tool use and language acquisition.