Alexa, Siri and Google Home struggle to understand Norfolk and Suffolk accents
PUBLISHED: 17:08 07 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:18 08 October 2018
The likes of Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Siri answer questions, dig out playlists and help organise lives using voice recognition but they can’t quite get to grips with our local accents, a study has revealed.
In fact, 33% of East Anglians find it hard to be understood because of their accent, according to a 2,000-strong survey by SEO agency Spike Digital.
To put Amazon’s Alexa hub to the test, Suffolk dialect expert and cartoonist Charlie Haylock checked to see if it could understood some famous Suffolk phrases.
Unfortunately, Alexa did not fare well - struggling to understand what ‘Sloightly on the huh’ and ‘on the drag’ meant while getting utterly confused by ‘I’m frawn o’cold’ and ‘a rum owd dew’.
The hi-tech device tried to help - listing haulage companies in Kidderminster and definitions of unrelated words.
Mr Haylock, who authored In a Manner of Speaking: The Story of Spoken English and the famous Sloightly on the Huh, said he wishes there was a Suffolk version of the gadget.
“Some of the answers it was giving were hilariously funny in how inaccurate they were,” he said. “It may be worth buying one just for a laugh.
“I think what will happen is they either the people will stop using these machines or they will have to cater for the different dialects.
“I can see the potential but they need to work on dialect.
“I think they need to make a Suffolk one.”
Although East Anglian accents seem to confuse the smart home devices the Welsh struggle the most with the technology, with 45.3% saying they couldn’t be understood.
Rob Powell, from Spike Digital, said: “At least in the good old days – that is, about two years ago – none of this was an issue.
“If you wanted to know something from your smartphone or computer, you simply typed it.
“There’s no denying, however, that being able to say requests out loud is much quicker and easier. It seems that smart home devices will just have to learn to wrap their ears around our unique variety of accents.”
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