Reply to post: Changing the way you talk to suit your gadgets

The Google Home Mini: Great, right up until you want to smash it in fury

DougS Silver badge

Changing the way you talk to suit your gadgets

I see this all the time with people who talk to their phone to do stuff. They have this sort of well enunciated clipped speech pattern, and use short simple sentences. By trial and error, Siri, Google, Alexa and Cortana are teaching humanity a new way of speaking. Step 1) speak slightly louder and more slowly than usual. Step 2) clearly enunciate your words by accentuating the movement of your lips. Step 3) clip the end of your syllables cleanly. Step 4) Use simple sentence construction with only one subject and object, as if you were speaking to a preschooler.

I live in the middle US, where it is considered that people have the least amount of accent in the country. I still find I have to speak differently to get understood - sure, I can talk normally and get understood more often than not, but it'll trip over certain words and you get annoyed and start adopting "machine speak" after you've had to repeat yourself a few times. It is like having to repeat yourself to someone who is hard of hearing.

I don't use voice commands for much - basically the only thing I use it for is if I'm in bed and I think of something I want to remind myself of and don't want to hold a bright screen up to my face and set back my attempts to go to sleep. Perhaps I'd use it more often if I could talk to it the way I talk to a normal person, but they simply aren't there yet. They're 90% of the way there, but that last 10% is going to take another decade, at least. Those who want to hurry this along have compromised by speaking in a manner which maximizes the chance of a machine understanding them. It is like watching a Monty Python sketch about people who have been possessed by machines.

I wonder if people who speak to their gadgets all the time will change their normal speech patterns and talk like that with humans? Maybe the way we'll finally break down "the common language that separates us" in the English speaking world is everyone being forced to homogenize their speech to be understood by their phones and other gadgets?

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