back to article Google tells the world how to talk

Google's voice search is, it turns out, optimised for North American accents and has distinct problems understanding proper English as the BBC defines it - forcing English users to adopt the kind of dodgy accents not usually seen outside a karaoke night. Google's iPhone application warns users that "Voice Search only works in …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Brand & Ross

    Maybe we should get Jonathan Ross to call Larry Page and tell him that Brand f**ked his daughter. Ross could then say that he was actually telling Larry that he was interested in becoming an investor.


    "The Telegraph reports that a Scot asking for iPhone was offered searches for Sex instead"

    Sounds like it works perfectly for us Scots. Wait.. does it still produce the same result if we search for bicycles?

  3. Rich Boakes
    Thumb Up


    It's uncannily accurate.

    When I tried a voice search for "bollocks" and it suggested articles related to "politics".

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I for one...

    refuse to say aluminium incorrectly!

    Do we have to end the search with "y'all", and intersperse it heavily with "like soooo" ?

  5. Iain


    What, the tedious ripoff of Robot Wars? Which was admittedly also designed by an American, but let's get our accusations right.

  6. Joe
    Thumb Down

    I dread to think...

    ...what my thick lancashire accent would bring up on those voice searches....

  7. Daniele Procida


    "fostering everything from Battlebots to Friends onto our TV" - I don't think we need to worry to much about what Google's foisting upon us, if that's what you're going to be doing to "our very language".

  8. Peyton

    One thing I've noticed

    watching British television shows is that, the more educated and/or aristocratic a character is, the less my American ears can hear their "accent". So.... if the search is having trouble understanding some residents of the scepter'd isle.... it could be an indication of a certain lack of... hmm.... I'll just leave it at that ;)

    Voice recognition tech has come a long way, but it's still only useful, imo, in areas where you can target a small subset of words - like support line IVRs... I'm also left wondering how well this thing copes with the various North American accents. I've known Yankees (i.e., those above the Mason-Dixie line, not "yanks") that have trouble understanding a thick southern accent. I've had trouble myself understanding creole accents.

  9. Robert Grant Silver badge

    This probably would've benefited from more time as a beta


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    No surprises then. Anyone who has installed Windows XP will know how hard it tries to hide UK English in favour (sorry, favor...) of American English. You would have thought the country name of England would give a huge clue to the origin of the language.

    Hold on a minute ... I think I prefer a North American accent to the chavvy-speak made so popular by our home-grown vacuous C-list celebs.

    Paris, as there isn't an icon for one of own C-list failures.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Could've been worse

    Given the fact it's a MOBY you could've been made to speak to it in TXT!

    l8ers :-D

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I'm from the US South...

    and it doesn't work for me either. And ah speak lak a prapah gennleman!

    Paris, because the language of love needs no words!

  13. breakfast

    May have problems with google maps...

    I would expect it to be challenged by anyone searching Google Maps for Leicester...

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Even a Surrey accent failed, delivering "my sister".

    Are you sure that wasn't an Arkansas accent?

  15. Some Guy

    Pardon my twang

    Septic twang, you say? Since Oxford English is the hallmark of a superior mind, maybe you fellas should build your own iPhone...

    Also, although originally derived from the Great Empire, US measurements are not exactly the same as in the UK, hence the dropping of "Imperial".

  16. Andy ORourke

    Would it work in......

    Clingon or Elmer fudd?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: Pardon my twang

    Except your measurements are not "Standard" as you claim. Where things count, us Brits are using Metric. The only things that are still Imperial (supposedly) are distances (miles), measures (pints primarily) and possibly weights (pounds).

    Your insistence on the American ounce, the American fluid ounce, the American gallon, the American mile, etc may require you to call your measurements "American", not "Standard".


  18. TimM

    Re: English?

    That's nothing. My XP, despite being told distinctly that it is English UK, insist on reverting to Welsh keyboard settings! (and no, I'm not Welsh).

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cor Blimey my Lady

    what a Pygmalion of a fair dilemma, we 'ave 'er.

    You know, we need a proper open source project on speech recognition, sure the things have to be trained initially, but if we can merge the data at some point there should be correlation to have recognition installed by default.

    Well I am off to chase a ragged rascal round the ragged rocks, and then check out the rain in Span that falls mainly on the plains.

  20. Chris C

    What's a "North American" accent?

    Can someone please enlighten me by describing what this "North American" accent is? Only a moronic retard would even claim that such a thing existed. For deity's sake, we have at least three distinct accents in my little state of Massachusetts (Western Mass [no accent], Worcester, and Boston). Then you have New York (specifically, NYC), New Jersey, the south, the midwest, and let's not forget Canada, eh? Or Mexico. That doesn't even begin to cover the islands such as the Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Jamaica, etc.

    So which of those (or one of the many not listed) is "the" North American accent?

  21. Greem

    re: May have problems with google maps...

    Try Loughborough. And for all you diction-challenged types, that's "Lufburra" not "Lufbohroh" or "Loogaburooga". Of course, if you live here like I do, it's "Up Tarn, me duck".

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Darn it

    The U.S. Corporate megacomplex has been found out and their plot for world domination may be foiled. You've uncovered their dastardly scheme to rule the world slowly by replacing any language with proper 'Merican. Muaahahahahahahaha.

  23. yeah, right.

    Where's the BOFH?

    There's a BOFH episode where he replaces all the speech modules with the "drunken scotsman" module. That's what we need. A BOFH with a drunken scotsman module.

  24. Neoc


    "Try Loughborough."

    I would have pronounced something close to "Low Brow". ^_^

  25. TeeCee Gold badge

    I'm counting the seconds.

    Until it's banned in France for its obvious anglo-saxon imperialism.


  26. Maryland, USA

    What would Google make of Eliza Doolittle?

    As Eliza would say, "G'onnnn!"

    15 years ago, an Aussie lass told visiting the States told me that she had to put on an American accent to get an ATM machine to understand her.

  27. David Stever

    Nort 'merican accent

    I was born in suburban Boston, whilst my granddad was born Down East (central Nova Scotia), and I once found myself, at the age of 8 being chased round his house by him, holding a stick of firewood, which he was going to use on my ass, because I did such a great job of imitating his accent. He was being followed in our little chase by my mom, who was telling him that she'd kill him if he applied said stick to my ass. Just in Eastern Canada, I can think of four accents- Newfie, Novie, PEI, Brunswick, and everybody west of Ontario is almost undistinguished from the US Midwestern 'generic' accent made famous by news anchors and Johnny Carson, (but I'm sure they can tell each other apart). Listening to broadcasts of 'Hockey Night in Canada' will treat you to some of these lovely dialects. Granddad would recognized most of them, I'm sure.

    There was a TV series on the English Language a few years ago that said you could trace back most US accents to the areas of England the original settlers had tumbled out of, and I'm sure that's still true. Virginians sound different then western North Carolina, and Arkansas doesn't sound anything at all like Georgia. I was surprised that Sarah Palin sounded like a character in the movie FARGO, which was odd, given that she was born in Idaho and raised in Alaska. I've been told that Palin's faux accent was born in the Finnish influences in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan to the language, for it's worth.

  28. BioTube

    As we say in Texas

    I reckon these Google fellers need a lesson.

    *Gets out stereotypical accent dictionary*


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