Irish accent might be too much for Alexa

Amazon’s new Irish accent for smart Echo devices is struggling to catch on as the company faces a round of layoffs.

The new accent, due to be introduced last week, is still unavailable to many Irish Independent readers who have turned to the paper in frustration.

Amazon supports US, Canadian, Australian, and Indian accented English.

The company said Irish accent should be fully available for updated devices in Ireland. However, the accent is still not available as a voice option on several updated Echo devices tested by the Irish Independent.

The catch comes as Amazon prepares to lay off thousands of workers, some of whom work in the “Devices and Services” department that oversees Alexa.

A company spokesman could not say why the delay occurred. However, she said the layoffs would only affect “a very small percentage of the total global team size.”

Amazon has spent months ensuring that localized “th” sounds are distinct from those in the US or UK when the Irish accent is activated. Likewise, words ending in “ght” sound more like Dublin “sh” than British “t”.

The latest software update is required and the device location must be set to Ireland.

Alongside the new accent, Amazon has started recognizing Irish phrases in response to requests like “Alexa, what’s up?” and “Alexa, who’s your husband?”

The new accent will initially only be available in a female voice.

“When customers told us they wanted an Irish-English language option for Alexa, we knew we faced a huge challenge as there are so many different and varied Irish accents,” said Dennis Stansbury, Amazon Alexa Country Manager for Ireland and Great Britain.

“Our team of linguists created a number of different accent variations and we tested them with internal and external native Irish speakers to help us define the final accent.”

Irish accents have been trending in the tech world in recent years.

Apple’s Siri has developed an Irish-English variant, while in Marvel’s Avengers films, the digital assistant’s voice used by Robert Downey Jr.’s Ironman character has a female Irish accent. Irish accent might be too much for Alexa

Fry Electronics Team

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