Friday, April 27, 2012

Sex Particles: It's All In a Day's Work

I think I've mentioned a bit about one of the dictation programs we use at work: Dragon Naturally Speaking. It's a handy little program that works with the computer. The attorneys speak into either a headset or a microphone and the words are magically transcribed into print. Cool, eh? What do they even need secretaries for?


As a secretary, our job is to at least put the dictated text into the correct format--usually a letter or a pleading. Some of us then return the documents to the attorneys for proofreading, and some of us do the proofreading ourselves and then return the documents to the attorneys for their signature or further editing. My practice is to do the latter--I think it saves the attorneys a little time and it's the same type of product they'd get from me if I had transcribed it from a recording. Old school, that's me.

Sometimes--a lot of the time--Dragon isn't quite accurate. And sometimes, if the attorney is interrupted in his or her dictation and forgets to tell Dragon to "go to sleep," the results can be amusing.

For instance, I was proofreading through a legal document one day and came across "manufacturers and distributors are not rea and is in an and Z you are a you and I and I and is a and I and I and you and I and is a a sonably necessary." Makes no sense, right? How about now: "manufacturers and distributors are not rea and is in an and Z you are a you and I and I and is a and I and I and you and I and is a a sonably necessary"? This is a perfect example of when an attorney's dictation is interrupted for another conversation--it picks up a few things and seems to turn everything into short, easily identifiable words. Mostly. Sometimes, though, if the person dictating to Dragon isn't careful, it will pick up some interesting conversations!

Because attorneys have a bit of a specialized language that includes less common legal terminology and Latin words, Dragon will reinterpret what it THINKS the person is saying. Our use of medical terminology makes it even more complicated. I'll give you a couple examples:

In a medical record summary: "the deep patient was pruning and increasing his activities." No, the poor guy wasn't increasing his activities by getting out and pruning his garden! He was actually "improving" and increasing his activities. We have no idea where Dragon got "deep."

At the beginning of a trial, attorneys may ask the judge to make rulings about what evidence will be allowed and what will not. Those requests to the judge are called motions in limine. Dragon likes "motions in lemonade" better!

In another medical record summary: "20 percent of patients with winter arthritis can have naked server ologies." Sadly, I can't remember what it was SUPPOSED to say, but if you have winter arthritis, try to keep your pants on, okay? You have a 1 in 5 chance of succeeding. I don't even want to think about what you may be serving while naked!

When I took a week off work early in April, another secretary, Teri, helped out one of my bosses. Upon my return, I was surprised when that attorney sent me a Dragon document that said, "I’m sick on Teri's instructions, we will proceed as outlined above." Really? That's not very nice of Teri! What it should have said, though, was "Absent contrary instructions, we will proceed as outlined above." Teri and I thought it was pretty funny! Dragon turned that same boss's own name into "resourceful trolley." To protect her identity, I won't tell you what her name is, but it starts with an "r" and rhymes with resourceful trolley--still, it's really not that close.

I guess that even with a program like Dragon, there's still a need for someone to keep an eye on things. And isn't that pretty much what secretaries DO anyway?

It's a good thing we old school secretaries don't shock easily because yesterday Dragon started talking about sex! Yep! The letter was addressed to an attorney for the other side in a case and said, ". . . refills in up appropriate for you to have sex particles per stations . . . ." Can you guess what it should have said? No? I couldn't figure it out either, so I had to ask the attorney why she was talking about sex particles per stations. Turns out it was "we feel it is inappropriate for you to have ex parte communications . . . ." ("Ex parte communications" are when one attorney communicates with the judge or another official about the case without the opposing attorney being present.)

They say Dragon can be trained but I'm skeptical. At least it keeps us amused.

13 comments:

Susie said...

How goofy for you sometimes! This reminds me of the auto/correct on texting. You get the funniest
and most embarrasing texts because of it. Bet you laugh out loud a lot at work.

Bronwyn said...

Hello Kim, I always enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for the legal lesson.I am a bit old school like you. I learnt shorthand at school, gosh does anyone even know what that is ?? Keep up with your blog its always a Hoot !!

Donna said...

Send the Dragon to the deep South where I grew up. Mr. Dragon would likely short circuit unless one of our 'gators got him first.

Synthia said...

Secretaries are VERY important and they'll never be able to get along without YOU! Funny stuff.

Josie McRazie said...

Kim I have to tell yo I was just talking about one of these programs just yesterday! My friend (I watch her kids) works at a police station and she does the dictation for their interviews. This is just kind of something that has been deemed her part of the job and she says it takes her about an hour for every 12 min of tape. I mentioned it might be easier if they got one of these and then she went and just corrected errors. Well her answer to that was that the detective part would not be that tough... but the suspect part, there are very few 'real' words she ends up typing! She said even the 'slang' is not what you would normally think!
I think your sex particels are hysterical!! LOL

Denise in PA said...

That's hysterical. Sometimes I think it's just as quick to just type from dictation (I type really fast!).

Anonymous said...

It seems that the new softwares and programs for computers to make your life easier, actually is more time consuming. I bet your bosses are glad to have 'old school' secretaires around to save them time. Thanks for sharing. You're a hoot.
cindy

Stephani in TX said...

Kim, I am so glad I have lived this long!! Along with some other jobs, I spent about 30 years at medical transcription, working for hospitals, medical groups and then in my own business for a total of 20 years more. We used to snicker about doctors dictating, doing something like not paying us but buying "dragon" etc. and how that would work out! NOT! Oftentimes we would hear we would be replaced by computers and eventually we were. But we would joke among ourselves as to how that might work. Our imaginings sounded a lot like your "sex particle" blog. What fun to hear how things can veer off, and thank goodness lawyers still have secretaries.

Julie said...

Haven't you seen the commercial for the dragon program? It always works perfectly on television!

PunkiePie (Jen) said...

Now that I work for a law firm in their IT department AND I'm based in a local office, I totally understand what you talk about now. Dragon Naturally Speaking - it's a lot of fun. :)

Jen said...

Super funny posting! Wish you were here with me and pam and gran and colleen...... seriously......

Marie said...

Great post! My husband wants a Dragon to write his memoirs from Viet Nam and now I'm a little nervous! :-)

This was very funny! I had a good laugh to make my day!

DangAndBlast! said...

That cracked me up-laughing so hard I've got tears..reading on my phone while nursing the baby - she keeps looking up with a smile, wanting to be in on the joke!