The idiom "dictated but not read" refers to a message or letter composed by one person but transcribed by another. Typically, the person dictating would not review the text after it was written. It's a glimpse into an era before modern technology when dictation was common.
"Dictated but not read" refers to a communication that was composed verbally by one individual and transcribed by another without being reviewed by the dictator.
"Dictated but not read" is an idiomatic expression that indicates a letter or message was composed verbally by one person (the dictator) and transcribed by another (the secretary or stenographer) and that the dictator did not review the final written product.
Let's explore its core meanings and usage:
The phrase "dictated but not read" comes from the early to mid-20th century. It was common in business correspondence when executives or managers would dictate letters to their secretaries. The phrase would be added as a note indicating that while the executive dictated the letter, they did not read and approve the final version. The secretary's transcription was trusted to accurately represent the executive's intent.
"There is a practice now becoming more or less common which I consider highly objectionable, namely, the rubber stamp impression, placed usually in the lower left hand
corner, stating that the letter was 'dictated but not read' by its author."
- The Rotarian, November 1915
Here are some examples of the idiom in use:
The phrase "dictated but not read" is less common in modern pop culture, given changes in communication methods. However, it does still occasionally appear, especially in historical or period-specific works.
Let's explore some instances:
There are not many common alternatives to the phrase that convey the same specific meaning.
Here are a few possibilities, though they are less precise:
"Dictated but not read" means that a letter or message was verbally composed by one person and written down by another, without the original speaker reviewing the written version for accuracy.
One way to use "dictated but not read" in a sentence could be, "The memo, marked 'dictated but not read,' accurately conveyed the executive's message."
"Dictated but not read" comes from the business practices of the early to mid 20th century when managers would often dictate letters to their secretaries without reviewing the final written product.
While the phrase "dictated but not read" could imply a lack of responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in the transcribed text, it primarily suggests trust in the transcriber's skills.
Given advances in technology, "dictated but not read" is less common today than it was in the past. However, it might still be used in certain professional settings or in historical or period-specific contexts.
No, "dictated but not read" can apply to any situation where a message is verbally delivered and transcribed by another party, whether in personal, academic, or other contexts.
Yes, "dictated but not read" could apply to digital voice transcriptions where the speaker does not review the final written output for accuracy.
While the phrase might have been used in the past, it is less common in legal or official documents today due to the high standard of accuracy required in such texts.
No, "dictated but not read" does not absolve the speaker of responsibility for the content of the written message. It simply means the speaker did not personally review the final written product.
Even in our technology-driven world, "dictated but not read" has relevance. It can apply to situations where voice recognition software transcribes spoken words without the speaker reviewing the text for accuracy.
The phrase "dictated but not read" may seem a relic of the past, but it still has applicability in our modern world. It's a reminder of the days when typewriters and dictaphones were the height of technology, and executives relied heavily on secretarial skills.
Here's a quick recap:
In our technology-driven world, where voice-to-text transcription is commonplace, it's crucial to remember the importance of reviewing and proofreading our spoken words. After all, errors can creep in even with advanced AI technology. That's a lesson we can all learn from "dictated but not read."