Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

Summary: Users of the iPhone 4S have been struggling to get along with voice-software Siri, after the 'intelligent assistant' can't understand the accent.

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Many Scottish iPhone users have found themselves struggling to use the new Siri voice-recognition feature, because the intelligent assistant cannot understand the accent.

Siri has been a focus for technologists worldwide after Apple's latest iPhone 4S came bundled with the voice-activated technology, and seemingly reacts to unexpected responses and dialectic differences -- like, "what is the meaning of life?", responding with a number of pre-defined answers.

But users of the iPhone 4S in Scotland have been left with Siri, on the most part, not understanding what has been said.

(Image source: Getty)

Scotland, the country land-attached to the north of England, still has English as its national language. While the Scots speak English, the dialect is different and the spoken word is widely considered to be more pronounced, with a unique 'Scottish twang', so to speak.

For example, as one newspaper reports, "Can you dance with me?" is interpreted as: "Can you Dutch woman?". Another example has a user trying to 'set a reminder for 12 o'clock', with Siri misinterpreting this as the word "treblecock" -- a word that does not exist.

While voice-recognition software is far from perfect, Siri is considered to be unique in its field and ahead of its game, particularly for the general consumer market.

Apple says that Siri is designed to work "in any country", and specifically the UK, Australia, the U.S., France and Germany:

"You can choose to speak to it in English, French, or German. However, Siri is designed to recognize the specific accents and dialects of the supported countries listed above. Since every language has its own accents and dialects, the accuracy rate will be higher for native speakers.

Siri will support additional languages from next year, including Japanese, Chinese, South Korean, Spanish and Italian.

But though all countries in the United Kingdom speak English natively, the accent differs greatly across the four countries of the UK.

Amid rumours that Siri could be ported to other Apple technologies in 2013, such as a dedicated television as CNET report, this gives Apple ample time to work around the nuances with various common languages.

But for Scottish users of the iPhone 4S, for now, voice-controlled technologies may not be quite ready for them yet.

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Topics: Telcos, Apple, Networking

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  • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

    Same with WP7 voice. It works sometimes other times its not even close.
    jhughesy
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @jhughesy As a British Ex-Pat living in the States, my US Focus understands me just fine.

      Perhaps you are holding it wrong? ;-)

      Seriously though I think it depends on the hardware you are using or how you are connecting. On Bluetooth paired to my car it works fine when moving under 30 MPH, but struggles on the highway at speeds over 50MPH.
      dazzlingd
      • <a href="http://www.tran33m.net/vb/">24-11-2011</a>

        @dazzlingd Apparently, the vendor didn't think it worthwhile to test their product on people who speak many different varieties of English. Makes you wonder how well the Siri works in Alabama or Brooklyn.
        ytaa1
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @jhughesy

      At least MS is smart enough not to blow up the advertisement channels with voice software that's far from perfect! Apple acts like they are the first and only to have this flawed software...hmmm imagine that Apple thinking they're first and the best at something! lol Voice recognition is getting better but it's far from PERFECT!
      Rob.sharp
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @jhughesy

      Any speech recognition software is at the mercy of accents and background noise. My WP7 phone recognises my voice fine and my partner's phone also works most of the time, but annoyingly for her, won't recognise my name (although it has no problem with the rest in her contact list) -seems to have trouble with her Aussie Adelaide accent. Every speech recognition system I've used over the past 25 years has had some problems and the Android,Apple and MS software is no exception. The fact that these all work most of the time for a variety of voices with no training is remarkable.

      On the plus side, I was pleasantly surprised after getting my Mango update, when driving home, my Prius suddenly started telling me I'd received a text, read the message, invited me to respond and then sent the response without me having to touch the phone. Now that really is useful and a lot safer.
      tonymcs@...
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @jhughesy "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

      Notice the two words i've emphasised, which rather change the meaning from what you said. <a href="http://www.ayimpex.com/Feed-Milling-Machinery/Cold-Feed-Extruder.html">dry extruder</a>
      smile520
  • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

    Add in Google Voice Actions too.
    bradavon
  • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

    If you go into any Glaswegian pub, nobody can understand anyone else full stop.
    frogspaw
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @frogspaw Yeah, that's a fair call X-D
      Imrhien
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @frogspaw Looks like it has been Tested and approved :)
      <a href="http://hayatbilgisi.gen.tr/a/">hba</a>
      webolico
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @frogspaw
      I agree. Seriously, when pronunciation of something as simple as "bugs" comes out as "booogs", what do they expect? ;)
      Learn to speak
      martian@...
  • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

    Then Siri and I have something in common!
    marlin_s
  • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

    Neither can I most of the time....
    Badgered
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @Badgered - +1
      Gr8Music
    • Snicker ...

      @Badgered

      Um ... never mind.
      PieceofPaper51@...
  • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

    Seriously, most humans can't understand a Scottish accent.
    Bates_
    • It took me 6 months

      @Bates_
      to understand what my then girlfriend at the time was saying, as she's from scottland.

      Now I understand everthing she says, still don't understand half of what she's trying to get across.
      William Farrell
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @Bates_
      Probably because most humans don't speak english!

      As a Scotsman I would take offense at that but then you're probably American (given the site!) so I'll let you off as I'd expect that most of the nuances of the English language are well beyond you!
      laris1403
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @Bates_ - I have extreme difficulty understanding a lot of Americans!
      ajc@...
    • RE: Lost in translation: Siri cannot understand the Scottish accent

      @Bates_ The sheep can. ;)
      thetwonkey