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Study Finds People Repress Their Accents With Voice Assistants

Study Finds People Repress Their Accents With Voice Assistants

Having recently purchased an Amazon Echo Dot for my home, for the first time in my life it dawned on me that this specific branch of technology was much further ahead than I was prepared for. Like a pensioner using Ceefax, I generally tend to only use it for the radio or for setting reminders/timers.

It seems though that such devices are affecting the way we talk to it. In a report via SkyNews, a study has found that people with accents tend to try and mimic ‘the Queens English’ when using them.

They Can Be Bad With Accents

This is an issue that affects people in the North more than the Midlands or South, but it’s fairly well established that many of these smart devices struggle with the heavier accents. As such, it’s perhaps no surprise to hear that the research was conducted at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle. In fairness, the last time I was in Newcastle I got a taxi and couldn’t understand the driver. Fortunately, he could understand me well enough to get me back to my hotel.

79% Change Their Voice

The study found that 79% of people who use these devices claim to alter their usual speaking voice in order to ensure that it works. In fairness, I often have arguments with Alexa over the difference between fifteen and fifty. Only when I clearly enunciate fifty is it able to actually understand me.

Linda Conlon, the centre’s chief executive has said: “Ask anyone with a regional accent. And they’ll tell you the struggles of using automated voice recognition. The same people who decades ago were frustrated as teens trying to get cinema listings from an automated telephone system are now having the same issues with their smartphones or smart speakers. The technology has moved forward, but the inclusivity to cater for regional accents has not.” 

So, the next time you go to use your smart device, listen to yourself. Are you speaking differently than you usually would? More interestingly, are you doing it consciously or subconsciously? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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