Suri and the Scots
Siri and the Scots
Posted by Lauren Collins
Since Apple launched her two weeks ago, it has become clear that Siri is an “intelligent personal assistant” of many talents. She can remind you to pick up your laundry. She can send flowers to your grandmother. She can tell you the meaning of life. (Really.) As David Pogue wrote, Siri even has a sense of humor. Ask her what she’s wearing, and she’ll answer, “Aluminosilicate glass and stainless steel. Nice, huh?” She might even be able to tell “Motte” from “Rzepczynski.”
The one thing that Siri cannot do, apparently, is converse with Scottish people. According to an article in today’s (U.K.) Times, recent exchanges between Siri and Scottish iPhone users have resembled a Clouseau skit, or that scene from “My Cousin Vinny,” in which Vinny keeps talking about “two yutes.”
Apple says that Siri can speak French, German, and English (from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia), and that she “is designed to recognize the specific accents and dialects of the supported countries.” But, Mike Ward writes, “One Glaswegian, who habitually signed off with ‘Cheers’ was stunned when it became ‘Chairs.’ And ‘Can you get me a fish supper on the way home?’ prompts: ‘Jayne, I don’t understand ‘rubber fissionable.’”
Siri, enterprising factotum that she is, may want to brush up on Peter Sellers’s Complete Guide to the Accents of the British Isles. Or, there is Stephen Colbert, doing a Glaswegian Richard Nixon:
BBC America has encouraged viewers to use closed-captioning to decipher unfamiliar accents and dialects. “The following program contains accents you would have heard a lot more if you hadn’t thrown our tea into Boston Harbor,” John Oliver, the “Daily Show”’s “senior British correspondent,” said in a public service announcement. “Not even British people can follow the British accent a hundred per cent of the time.” I will confess to having watched “The Office,” set in Slough, with subtitles. Could Siri handle David Brent?