Speech Recognition

Most computers and even smartphones now have speech recognition software, allowing you to enter commands with your voice instead of using a keyboard. When creating documents, you can speak instead of typing. What was once the stuff of science fiction has now become an everyday tool.

But these high-tech apps do have some chal­lenges. I find that most of them have a bit of trouble with my slight southern drawl, so I have to speak with an af­fected northern ac­cent on certain words. Sometimes I say a big word, but the computer hears a train of small ones instead; if I talk too slowly, “factuality” may type as “fax you Al a tea.” Obviously, the results can be pretty funny. And that creates another problem: if I laugh out loud, the com­puter just types more gibberish.

The result? When I use speech recognition software, I some­times have to speak in such a way that I barely rec­ognize myself. It’s sort of like talking to a foreigner who knows English but has some trouble understanding the way it is often spoken. In order to communicate, you may need to speak differently than usual.

Perhaps there’s a lesson here on teaching. As you and I grow in our knowledge of God’s word, we get comfortable with various Biblical terms and concepts. Because we’ve studied them, they make perfect sense to us. But to someone else, those same terms and concepts may be unfamiliar and confusing. They may sound like gibberish. If we’re going to teach such a person, we may need to speak a little dif­ferently so that we can be un­derstood. Many people, for instance, have no idea what fornication is, or what it means to repent, or what is denoted by inspiration. We need to be ready to carefully explain such things. We can’t effec­tively teach people if they don’t understand what we’re saying.

We will find, of course, that this takes time and effort. But it’s worth it. In our teaching, let’s imitate Solomon, who “searched to find just the right words” in order to teach “what was upright and true” (Eccle­siastes 12:10, NIV).