"Mispronouncing" to your phone's language is actually helpful if you don't speak the language, because you'll legitimately understand it better. Local pronunciation can often be completely and maddeningly unrecognizable to a foreigner.
While if you speak the language, it's obviously nonsensical to have it mispronounced and you want the real thing of course.
Example: "Rio Tinto" in Portuguese is pronounced "HEE-oo CHEEN-too". If you don't speak the language, you're NEVER gonna map those sounds to a street sign because the "r" and "t" sounds you're expecting aren't there at all! While hearing a completely incorrect "REE-oh TIN-toh", you can probably recognize.
The disconnect between the two pronunciations is so stark that many times taxi drivers have literally no idea what street a foreigner is telling them to go to.
- Belgium has three official languages (French: fr-be, Flemish: nl-be and German: de-be).
- Belgium is divided in provinces.
- Provinces in Belgium are either French (thus mainly speak french) or Flemish (thus mainly speak flemish).
- … with the exception of some areas near the german border which mainly speak german. But not the whole province.
- Brussels is not part of a province. It's part of a region called "Brussels Capital". It is French speaking, although it's in the middle of a Flemish province. This is what that looks like: https://twitter.com/Adys/status/1175063489653727233
As you can imagine, most software doesn't account for any of that shit, yet tries to be clever and eg. have websites ignore accept-language.
I recently updated my Nintendo account to be in Belgium. My nintendo account is now half-translated in dutch (NOT flemish). Half because their dutch translation is vastly incomplete. I have no apparent way to change this back without lying about where I live.
By this you mean it shows a mixture of en and nl strings?
I have often found it super jarring that people are willing to ship such a thing. Is it better or worse to not attempt nl at all for such a circumstance? And then, OK, maybe Europeans are comfortable with English, but what about when this situation arises for markets where nobody understands English? You can go down a rabbit hole of having different fallbacks for different markets, and sometimes maybe that will work, but it's likely to be just as jarring.
Your Belgium case even suggests maybe the fallbacks should be a per-user setting. User comes in with a list of what they are OK being presented with...
But the worst part of it is it's doing so with NO WAY TO CHANGE THE LANGUAGE.
> User comes in with a list of what they are OK being presented with...
That is exactly what the Accept-Language header is: A list of preferred languages, detailing which ones work better and which ones to use as fallback, etc.
> That is exactly what the Accept-Language header is: A list of preferred languages, detailing which ones work better and which ones to use as fallback, etc.
I knew about Accept-Language, but I just looked into it and I didn't realize it also had possibility for weighting of each language. I was thinking of an instance where you are highly proficient at languages X and Y, and a website has "native" content in X, and translated content in Y -- you don't want to be served Y in that case. Seems like a tricky case to get right and maybe some server code parsing Accept-Language could choke on it if not careful.
This is what I keep reading, but when I visited there I observed both languages in apparently equal measure. Of course my observations were superficial -- I was a tourist who spoke neither language.
But I even if I am right, that just underscores your point. The fact that a request comes from Brussels, gives you very little clue what language the user wants. Especially if that request comes from a some foreigner working for the EU.
It’s both hilarious and saddening, as I suspect a chance that the robo-mispronunciations might end up edging out the local ones over time.
This could be fixed by adding a field to every street name for “a series of phonemes that provide a close approximation of local pronunciation” and using that. But I doubt it ever will.
Interestingly, this is essentially how a lot of Japanese forms (at least that I've seen) work. You have a name field, containing, say, 小島秀夫, then a field for the phonetic reading containing こじまひでお. Both are Kojima Hideo (typically Hideo Kojima in English), but the second is the phonetic (kana) form, whereas the first form of some names might be misread or have an unusual reading. You might also see it as furigana, where the phonetic/kana reading is written above the kanji form in small letters.
There are four Japanese women whose names you have to sort: Junko, Atsuko, Kiyoko, and Akiko.
This does not seem difficult, until they each show you how they write their names in kanji:
Is it, though? I mean, if a city was named, centuries ago, by people who pronounced that name a particular way—and then language shifted in some way and every modern person pronounces the name differently... are the living people right? Or would it be "more correct" to pronounce the name the way that the people who came up with the name pronounced it?
(The Duchess of Argyll would certainly have pronounced the city's name as "Reg-ee-na", given that she named the city after the Latin word for "queen" [to refer to her mother, Victoria], and the Latin word is pronounced that way.)
It's a bit like asking whether the correct name for Saskatchewan itself is "Saskatchewan", or "Kisiskāciwani."
It's also a bit like asking whether the people of St. Louis are wrong to be pronouncing their city's name with a vocalized S.
Yes, I'm in Italy now. No, that doesn't mean I forgot how long a mile is, or have instantly learned to judge the world in meters.
It was absolutely mind blowing to me that Google Maps and others don't do this when I switched to Android. Even more mind blowing that they still chose to not implement this to this day.
In non-English speaking countries like Europe, this means you have to literally change the language settings every time you cross a border. Borders are all over the place in Europe. It feels like 1998 tech to have to do this.
And for those claiming that the "Englishified version" of a street name in a foreign language is easier to understand: no. It isn't for anybody who speaks more than 1 language (AKA: most people outside of English speaking and large and/or totalitarian countries).
Driving around Wales or Cornwall are particularly fun, it really can't deal with the names. Not sure if it manages better when it's in Welsh language mode (if that's available).
I was once in Cyprus using Google Maps and it decided it couldn't cope with the alphabet, so it pronounced each individual letter on each road and placename. It would still be reading the road name and you'd be on the next one.
In some cases it uses different pronunciations for two words in the same road name (I've heard "Calle Real" pronounced with "Calle" correct but "Real" as the English word "real"; other times it gets calle wrong and other times it gets them both right).
Google maps was struggling with Roman numerals in France: many streets and avenues are named after kings, say "Louis XVI", "Henry VI" etc. Back in the days it wasn't able to pronounce those, VI would have sounded like "vee". It's probably been fixed since, that was almost 8 years back.
Or maybe UK folks get it right?
Sequim, WA is an interesting one.
But back Spanish, the word Mexico itself I’ve heard as: \meiko\, \’mehiko\, \’meXiko\, \’meksiko\ and of course \’meksikou\
Somehow those Spaniards brought that change to /x/ to all those Nahuatl place names but they never brought /θ/ to everyday speech in Mexico. I scratch my head at that.
Pronounced "pew-all-up" for those who are curious.
True story, I worked at the South Hill Mall.
Specifically The Puyallup Tribe.
Seattle, Tacoma, Rainier, Sequim, Nisqually, Samammish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Snohomish, Tillicum, etc
It's wild to hear him phoning home, rattling off Spanish words faster than I can discern them, and then use a local pronunciation (and American accent) for Spanish-origin names like Divisadero or Arguello.
Yes please, can't I just setup a cookie or something that lets sites know which languages I speak? I'm so sick and tired of american sites forcing spanish on me because I log from a spanish IP...
I'm rather curious what the difference is between us that it doesn't work automatically for you. Even google assistant understands me when I speak either language.
There are a lot of reasons for this, and I don't think I'm alone here:
* Like many Indic language users I speak and understand multiple languages and I'd like to contextually reflect this in my IMs
* Relative lack of fluency/comfort reading Indic script (almost each Indic language has a different abiguda)
* A pronounced lack of experience typing using the multiple abigudas, all of which are more complex to type than the Latin alphabet
I'd really like to be able to type Indic words using Latin script without fighting with autocorrect -- or turning it off altogether.
Otherwise the poor sod would be totally at sea.
The only exceptions I see are anglicized alternative names ("Munich" instead of "München") but even then the local pronunciation should be preferred.
Ah, sorry, but nowadays no pronunciation is "wrong" - that is unspeakable oppression.
We've achieved full Humpty-Dumpty - "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
For example my MacOS system voice Alex often confuses 'live' (to live somewhere) with 'live' (as in live concert). That's because they have a simple model that can run on a laptop and not use too much space. This sample phrase tested on Google cloud TTS is perfect.
Set the language to translate from French to English then type English in the French box and it'll say the English words with a french accent if you click the speak button.
It's neat to hear all of the different accents and they sound reasonably accurate.
Which is the first IoT assistant thing, first released in 2006. Its a french system, (which had very good localisations though). What I loved the best was getting it to talk in a french accent.
So I set the TTS to french, but sent english. It would say the time like:
"Eet Iz Deece Hure" (from it is 10 hours)
Which is way more loveable than in american english (back then TTS in british was rare. )
After switching between French and English a couple times I ended up with a voice that spoke English but used the French voice synthesizer.
To me it sounded eerily like a French person with a very thick accent speaking English, but it was still quite understandable. Sadly the setting didn't survive moving to a new phone, it was a fun party trick.
Big companies are so paranoid about everything that I guarantee someone in their legal team is frowning upon this.
Again, this post is harmless but since the legal departments job is basically to freak out about everything that puts the company at risk (even a tiny bit), then I’m assuming that mentioning other companies’ products is at the very least frowned upon.
Last time I went diving through the archives, a lot of the old links and images either had rotted or gotten mangled in one of the many shifts around. It's a bit sad.
Anyone interested, some of Raymond's older posts are captured in https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/194791.The_Old_New_Thing
If it was clearly about an awesome feature of Alexa, maybe that would be weird.
If it was picking on a significant bug in Alexa, then it wouldn't be very nice.
As it is, it seems to be simply finding something amusing for readers to think about, especially if they are developers and see it as an interesting corner case.
Or like this HN submission on transliterating Esperanto to Polish to piggy-back off an existing text-to-speech system: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20802326