01 February 2021

Doing my bit for voice recognition

 I have been depending on voice recognition software for months. How good that sort of software works really impacts my quality of life! Not all software is equally good; it is clear that a lot more funding has gone into developing voice recognition software in English than in Welsh, for instance.

Sometimes this sort of topic comes up where you don't expect it. Once every week I have a chat with a linguist in order to practice my Welsh. And I mentioned to him that I had been using the Welsh package and had been able to provide written feedback to one of the Welsh-speaking students. It turned out that he had just been involved in the viva of someone who had written a thesis about Welsh voice recognition. The topic clearly interested him, and he also suggested I volunteer my voice to some project that collects spoken language for this purpose. It is organised by Mozilla (of Firefox fame) and it asks you to read sentences given to you. It does a plethora of languages, including Welsh. So I had a look!

The site defaults to English, so I just showed my good intentions and read their English sentences. Then I went looking for Welsh. These are not simple sentences! But I did my bit. Then I did some Dutch too. And then I looked at Norwegian, but it asked me to create an account for that. I don't know why. I did not bother with that. I have more things to do, and I haven't spoken Norwegian regularly for more than 10 years! So maybe I am not suitable anymore.

If you think it is important computers can understand spoken word, then have a look yourself! This is the site: commonvoice.mozilla.org

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