Alice Reads Total Dictation at NSU

The Total Dictation grammar event was held on April 14. It was open to anyone interested in testing their knowledge of Russian language. This was the 15th anniversary and Novosibirsk State University, birthplace of the event, celebrated by having the dictation read by the Yandex voice assistant Alice.

This year Guzel Yakhina was the Total Dictation author. She wrote three texts for the event: "Morning", "Day" and "Evening". They describe the morning, day and the evening of Jakob Ivanovich Bach, a literature teacher who lives in a German colony in the Saratov Volga region in 1916. Bach is the hero of her new novel, “My Children”, that will appear in bookstores in May. Novosibirsk Total Dictation participants wrote part two, “Day”. 

There were 14 sites for taking the dictation at NSU. The most popular was the auditorium where more than 300 people wrote the text as it was streamed by the star "dictator", voice assistant Alice.

NSU Rector Mikhail Fedoruk delivered a welcoming address,

Total Dictation is a wonderful event that was developed at our University in 2004. It is becoming so popular that the question today is where is the dictation not given: under water, the space station, in the Antarctica ... Soon people will jump with a parachute to take it. This is a great event, most importantly because it promotes a better understanding of the Russian language.

Sergei Brazhnik, Head of the Novosibirsk office for development at "Yandex", also spoke at the opening of the event,

I am the one who brought Alice here. I envy you because you have come to take part in this wonderful experiment. 15 years ago, when the Total Dictation started, no one would have believed that someday there would be a dictator that is not a human being. These years of progress have moved us forward so today a voice assistant is reading the Total Dictation. 

As people entered the auditorium, their attention was drawn to the smartphone from which the digital dictator was already prepared to read the text. Tatyana Zakovryashina, a member of the Total Dictation expert council, assisted Alice by repeating some long sentences more slowly. After the event, Alice saved the Total Dictation text. People will be able to listen to it and test their grammar knowledge independently. Yandex’s Brazhnik is pleased that Alice fulfilled her role. 

A total of 1,100 people participated in the Total Dictation at NSU. As usual, participants will be able to see their work, get their assessment and advice on how to improve their Russian on April 20 at 6:30 pm in auditorium # 3107. Assessments will also be available after April 23 in the participant’s personal file on the Total Dictation site: /