Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Brits Forced to Adopt Bad American Accents to Use iPhone Features; Dick Van Dyke Repeatedly Cited

The Register (Biting the Hand That Feeds IT), November 19, 2008, Google tells the world how to talk; Received Pronunciation not received, Scots scotched by Bill Ray

Google's voice search is, it turns out, optimised for North American accents and has distinct problems understanding proper English as the BBC defines it - forcing English users to adopt the kind of dodgy accents not usually seen outside a karaoke night.

Google's iPhone application warns users that "Voice Search only works in English, and works best for North American English accents", as noted by Cult of Mac, but one doesn't expect to have to adopt an septic twang just to get an internet search completed - though that appears to be the case.

The Telegraph reports that a Scot asking for iPhone was offered searches for Sex instead, while a Welsh accent delivered "gorillas" and "kitchen sink". Even a Surrey accent failed, delivering "my sister"...

Clearly we can't sit by and watch our very language be attacked in this way, and must petition the BBC to create their own Voice Search application that refuses to respond to any sound containing so much as a hint of regional inflection.

Meanwhile we'll have to content ourselves with laughing at iPhone users as they attempt American accents that would make Dick Van Dyke look accomplished.


The Independent, November 19th, 2008, Cyberclinic: Computer says "Sorry, didn't catch that" by Rhodri Marsden

In the past few days, British iPhone users have been bellowing into their phones in a range of timbres and accents that make them sound like they're auditioning for a place at Jon Culshaw's Elementary School of Impressionism. That's because Google have just launched a Voice Search facility for their Google Mobile App; it senses when you lift the iPhone to your head, it beeps, awaits for search data to emerge from your mouth - like, I dunno, maybe "BNP postcode search" and then presents the results on the screen for you. That theoretically saves you approximately 10 seconds that you would have spent keying stuff in on-screen, although in practice it only works if you adopt the kind of ludicrous transatlantic accent deployed by TV chef Robert Irvine (oblique reference there, I know, but if you don't indulge in TV cooking shows as much as I do, just replace "Robert Irvine" with "Dick van Dyke".)


Just wanted to point out that the traditional Dick Van Dyke joke falls apart when you're talking about doing an American accent, because he actually has one. Being an American and all.

THIS JUST IN: Joke Aged Over Four Decades Made New by Fresh Young Comic

The Telegraph, December 30, 2008, Stars who will shine in 2009: Kevin Bishop by Neil LaBute

My discovery of the year is the young actor/comedian Kevin Bishop. I had the pleasure of working with him on my play Fat Pig and through that experience discovered his work on British television, namely Star Stories and his own sketch comedy show, The Kevin Bishop Show. Trust me, this little bastard is quick as a whip and funny as hell. Like all good comics, his timing is impeccable and his eagerness to please is only outshone by his ability to do it. His creative mind leaves me breathless and his impression of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins puts me on the floor. Every time.


As the Teletubbies put it, "Again, again!"

Or, as they say on Just a Minute, "Repetition!"

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm not even going to make any excuses for being so poor at updating this blog...

The Sun, December 26, 2008, The Sun guide to the best films

THERE is no better day than Boxing Day to put your feet up and watch a movie on the box.

Many channels are packing today’s schedules with big films – so to help you choose which ones to watch, Sun film critic THE SNEAK has picked his festive favourites.

MARY POPPINS, ITV1, 3.25pm: Julie Andrews is magical as the singing nanny. Shame about Dick Van Dyke’s accent (1964). *****


D.V.D.'s accent is worse than a nice meal at a phony Irish place in the Poconos:

The Times, December 12, 2008, Escape to the Pocono Mountains by Darren Taffinder.

For dinner, we tried the nicer looking of two Irish pubs called Siamsa. Located on the site of an old bank, Siamsa was about as authentic as Dick van Dyke’s Cockney accent in Mary Poppins. However, what we ate was really nice...


The Watford Observer, December 8, 2008, London's Lions - A Mascot To Take Pride In by Catherine Cain

Consequently, last week, Australians were treated to the image of a spotty cockney yoof, taunting their national pride and laying down the gauntlet for 2012.

Well, I think it was a cockney. Having heard a clip from the ’campaign’ I’m not sure that it wasn’t actually Dick Van Dyke reprising his seminal role as Bert the chimney sweep in
Moiry Poppins.


And a zillion others. I'll update more often in the new year. Now I'm going to go delete all the starred Dick Van Dyke links in my Gmail inbox.