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‘Eleven’: Do the Scots really need an Aye-Phone?

The Los Angeles Times reports Siri the voice activated assistant for the i-Phone is having difficulty understanding the Scottish accent, as according to reporter Henry Chu:

Scots who rushed to buy it have discovered that their new “smart” gadget can’t understand them. This is true despite the fact that their phones are set to “English (United Kingdom)” under the “language” setting for Siri, which doesn’t seem to take the distinctive Scottish burr into much account.

“What’s the weather like today?” Darren Lillie said hopefully into his iPhone recently here in the Scottish capital, in a demonstration for an American reporter.

Lillie, 25, is Edinburgh born and bred, and his thick accent shows it.

Siri thought for a moment, then decided it best to repeat what it thought it heard.

“What’s available in Labor Day?” it asked.

Lillie shook his head. “I don’t even know what Labor Day is,” he said ruefully to the American, who told him.


In other clips, “Can you dance with me?” gets misinterpreted as “Can you Dutch women?” and the question “How many miles are there in 10 kilometers?” elicits the helpful, if irrelevant, response: “I don’t see any email for yesterday.”

Lillie admits to adjusting his speech patterns to get Siri to understand him.

“I find I speak slower. It’s like when I speak to tourists,” he said to the American reporter, who felt at once both patronized and relieved.

Hardly news, and the kind of story best suited to the “Jings! Crivvens! Help ma boab!” kind of headline, allowing for the usual nationalistic rebuttal, name-checking Edinburgh-born inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell turning in his grave, and the success of such Scots accents as Schir Schean Connery, Ewan MacGregor, Kelly MacDonald, Robert Carlyle, Billy Connolly and Craig Ferguson, mcetc mcetc. But really, it just made me of Stanley Baxter’s excellent Parliamo Glasgow from the 1960s, and this wonderfully apt sketch from present day and the rather splendid Burnistoun.

Via LA Times, with thanks to Richard Metzger
Bonus clip of ‘Parliamo Glasgow’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
06:30 pm