There’s often a noticeable difference between the way we write and the way we speak. Writing allows us to think before we type, and that extra step between a thought and its expression often leads to wording that's more precise—and more formal. But dictation software may be changing that.
According to WIRED, as dictation software on smartphones and computers becomes more sophisticated, more people are using it to draft texts and emails. And although dictation is viewed by many as just a simple time-saver, it may also have an impact on the way we communicate.
A small study in 2003 found that dictation software makes writing more casual. For instance, people are more likely to drop titles like “Mr.” and “Ms.” They may also use less complex language in general, in part because they fear dictation software won’t be able to pick it up. Designer Natalie Roth told WIRED, “I simplify what I’m saying so the computer will understand it. It’s the way I speak to someone when I know that their English is a bit rusty.”
But if dictation software is making our writing more simple, it may also be making us more likely to think before we speak. Since it’s a hassle to go back into an already dictated email and make edits, many people simply try to draft the perfect email aloud, editing in their minds before they speak. New York Times video journalist Erik Olsen told WIRED, “I think through more completely what I’m trying to say.”
In a way, dictation software may be bridging the gap between speech and writing, making writing more colloquial, but also encouraging us to think through our thoughts before we express them aloud.