Archive for Speech technology

Jingle bells, pedophile

Top story of the morning in the UK for the serious language scientist must surely be the report in The Sun concerning a children's toy mouse that is supposed to sing "Jingle bells, jingle bells" but instead sings "Pedophile, pedophile". Said one appalled mother who squeezed the mouse, "Luckily my children are too young to understand." The distributors, a company called Humatt, of Ferndown in Dorset, claims that the man in China who recorded the voice for the toy "could not pronounce certain sounds." And the singing that he recorded "was then speeded up to make it higher-pitched — distorting the result further." (A good MP3 of the result can be found here.) They have recalled the toy.

Shocked listeners to BBC Radio 4 this morning heard the presenters read this story out while collapsing with laughter. Language Log is not amused. If there was ever a more serious confluence of issues in speech technology, the Chinese language, freedom of speech, taboo language, and the protection of children, I don't know when.

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Damn speech synthesizer

It is truly almost beyond belief that the Investor's Business Daily could say in an editorial (which after much ribald mockery on the blogs they have now altered):

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

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