dinsdag 4 juni 2024

AND THEN FATE STRIKES...or how I lost my voice and identity

It seems as if you have had too much to drink and are double-talking, said Marriet my wife, two years ago on a trip through the Peloponnese. I had hardly drunk anything and yet…I paid no attention to it. But it came back; first with the pronunciation of the L and the R. Still, I went to the doctor. Referred to specialists - to neurology. And then the circus of research and testing begins. The result... Due to a neurological disorder, the transmission of the nerve impulse from the brain to the muscle is blocked. My lips and tongue have lost their strength. Speaking is difficult and eating/drinking is a task. Unfortunately, there is no cure.

And now? Bravely Forward!; however it took some time to take that step. Losing my ability to speak is an attack on my identity. Moreover, this violation of the ability to communicate sometimes creates the feeling of being trapped within yourself. It's not just that I can no longer say something the way I want to, but it's also difficult to make spontaneous, direct contact with others. I have to speak slower, enunciate more clearly and then hope that people understand what I have to say.

Fortunately, I am physically fine, I still swim the 500 m, or ride a long lap on my racing bike. There is nothing wrong mentally either; painting is a new hobby; Linux/Ubuntu still runs on my machines. A lot of free time is now spent visiting the opera and listening to string quartets. In short, I'm still having fun...

And yet you want to continue communicating; what if things get worse? Right, that's where the help comes from the Internet again. I used AI (Artificial Intelligence) for programming. So it was a small step to voice cloning. Converting text to audio is very common. So a text I create can very easily be read aloud by someone else via AI. Can it also be done with your own voice? Yes, but you must have an original voice. My current voice is not suitable. Fortunately, I still have old recordings of a lecture, speech, training, etc. I can use that to clone my voice.

It's really fun to hear how that old recording can be used to create a new voice. That new voice then reads my texts, just as if I were speaking them. Of course it's not 100%, but it looks pretty close. Moreover, it is a rather indirect and slow form of communication; but better than nothing and being locked inside yourself.

The program I use for this is Speechify. There are more, but I liked this one the best so far. You can try it for free, and a basic subscription costs about $100 per year. For this you have 100,000 characters to pronounce text and a voice clone. A voice-over is also possible;

So, now after two years I have made it public. I also want to show what happens. I have added a small piece of video with my speech handicap. I also made a video in which my new voice reads this text and I pretend to read it.


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