What’s your Internet accent?


All of a sudden, after I started testing iOS7, apps are going crazy for access to the phone’s microphone.

Of course, if you’ve any knowledge of the PRISM revelations, you automatically start thinking ‘why does a map or a photo app want access to my microphone’…?

But without getting into that, it’s more likely (or at least it’s the reason being given) that voice-recognition is getting sufficiently advanced to be used to search for things on your phone.

Now, we’ve been trying it out on YouTube at home for a while, because it’s a way that our son who’s three and three quarters would be able to search for things without having to type a request in.

I have to admit, I still feel like a bit of a dick every time I talk to a device. God knows how I’d get on with Google Glass.

But there’s another issue; being Scottish, the only way I can make it come back with any sensible result is by adopting an American accent.

It makes me wonder; whereas in the mid-to-late twentieth century, it was common for people to have ‘a phone voice’ – an affected, slightly posher, cleaner version of your accent. A BBC announcer version of you.

Part of that was image portrayal on the part of the speaker, but part of it was also making sure you were understood.

From here on out, we all might need to use ‘an Internet accent’ – a version of your voice that devices can readily interpret. Some sort of clear, clipped, mid-Atlantic drawl. Not BBC English, but Google English.

Then I’ll really feel like a dick, affecting an accent to talk to my phone.