Siri is trying to kill your Scottish, Irish or Welsh accent
‘Sorry I didn’t quite get that’
Those with accents usually tone them down when they move away. Whether intentionally or by accident, they soften the regional vowels, and add those Ts back on the ends of words.
It is worse: you cannot even be yourself with Siri. For it seems that voice recognition tools are biased in favour of RP.
A Scottish computer scientist called Alan Black from Carnegie Mellon University has a theory about this, and why Siri doesn’t understand us. He told The Guardian:
“Most people have what we would call a telephone voice, so they actually change away from their local family accent when they’re speaking on the telephone to somebody they don’t know. They also have a ‘machine voice’. People speak to machines differently than how they speak to people. They move into a different register. If you’re standing next to somebody in an airport or at a bus stop or something, you can typically tell when they’re talking to a machine rather than talking to a person.”
It’s basically the same reason why you get more northern when you talk to your mum on the phone and more well-spoken when you’re with your mates in London. But why is Siri so anti-regional and so pro-RP? Black speculated:
“One of the reasons they designed Siri to be fundamentally a polite, helpful agent who isn’t your friend but works for you, is to encourage people to be somewhat polite and explicit to her, rather than being very colloquial. Because speech recognition is always hard when you drop into colloquialisms.”
If Siri has her way – and she’s a wilful woman – we might all be speaking like robots.