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ATPM 17.06
June 2011




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by Mark Tennent,

The Lion Wores

What is it with TV presenters? Why have we got so many all of a sudden who have speech affectations? Should such people be even on TV in the first place?

I listened to some last night and their pronounciations included Sir Anthony Beaumwant. The Gweatest Wevolution… Cweated the kitchen wange… Incwedible… pweliferwation… the scullery mwaid… middle cwases.

These aren’t the words of someone with a speech impediment caused by some physical or psychological disability. If they were, I wouldn’t dream of mentioning them. Instead, they are from the voices of those who have been to the best schools, usually now being something like the curator of the Queen’s handkerchiefs, or should that be cwuwater? Then there is Jonathan Woss….

After extensive minutes of research, it appears I am not the only one questioning this affectation, which they also note as a pwoduct of the wealthy. The Queen in her 1950s voice would sound pretty stupid to us today. As if she had something stuck in her royal passage. Thankfully, her accent has tamed, and Britain is represented by a softly spoken lady with a wealthy London accent. Unlike the Estuary speech that Nigel Kennedy, wealthy iconic violinist, has adopted. In Jamie Oliver, it is natural; in others, it is forced.

Here, one American asks the same qwestion. While here, the questioner notes that it is not an affectation seen in other English-speaking countries. Even the Beeb has some notes about it: BBC—Voices—Your Voice.

Macs have long had voices, which I find useful to grab my attention to something going on. For many years, Alex has summoned me to click on a dialog box or warned that Armageddon would occur if I didn’t choose between two options. Usually: “Erase Hard Drive: Yes or No.”

For me, the other voices just didn’t hack it. Victoria was nearly my dream girl but sounded just a bit too CanadianAmericanDigital. The others might appeal to some, but I have never wanted to be summoned by Bubbles or his compatriots.

However, with Lion it looks as though this will change. A whole new range of voices may be included, according to those with developer copies. The voices spoken are courtesy of real people, or nearly real people, from the countries where the Mac is present. This includes the various versions of English, such as Australian, South African, and so on.

But you can’t mix and match to have Jacques in Montreal speak English with his sexy French-Canadian accent. He’s strictly French-speaking, just like Brunhilda will always speak in German, and Agnetha in Swedish, unfortunately.

Apparently, the Speech control panel will have previews of the new voices, which it will download when you make a selection. The downside is that they will be pretty big files to take in all the nuances of each voice. Personally, I’d give a gigabyte to have Agnetha summon me, but I can’t be bothered to learn Swedish.

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Reader Comments (2)

Steve · June 2, 2011 - 23:07 EST #1
Agnetha speaking in English with a Swedish accent, man, that would be hot.
Mark Medonis · June 4, 2011 - 14:36 EST #2
Actually, you can still have a Swedish or German speech synthesizer speak English, and it will indeed have an accent. Although the accent will be pretty heavy. I think an accent slider control would be awesome.

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