Google has announced that the Google Assistant on your smartphone will soon be helping you pronounce certain tricky words in English. If you’re an English speaker and frequently struggle to pronounce a word, simply type the name of the word into the Google Assistant or ask Hey Google, how do you pronounce ___? and you will hear an audio recording with the correct pronunciation. The service will be available in US English at first, with other languages in the future. This can definitely help improve your spelling and pronunciation skills! Google Assistant to Help You Pronounce Those Pesky Words

How to use it

Although speech recognition has come a long way in recent years, it’s still something of a challenge for those who aren’t native English speakers. The Google Assistant will provide help on that front. In addition to offering more natural conversational interactions, Google has improved its speech recognition system so that it can improve your pronunciation of frequent words and names. If you use an app like Google Translate for multiple languages or use a transcription service like Dragon Dictation, you’ll appreciate having your virtual assistant working with you on your accent so you can work more efficiently across multiple systems and have fewer errors when using these apps.

Why your business should care

It’s one thing for a voice assistant to be able to identify your voice (thanks, Amazon Echo) and it’s another thing entirely for it to understand you and remember who you are. It’s with that in mind that Google announced Tuesday at its annual I/O developer conference that its Android-powered Google Assistant will soon begin taking into account how well you pronounce words, as well as which words you ask about most often. The goal is simple: We all want technology we can talk to—without getting frustrated because Alexa or Siri doesn’t understand us or give us an answer we wanted. But asking a question correctly—and only once—is also crucial.

Google Assistant to Help You Pronounce Those Pesky Words
Google Assistant to Help You Pronounce Those Pesky Words

How it works

When you first use Google Assistant, it will begin by learning how you pronounce words that appear often in your conversations. Once it’s trained on how you speak, it will learn new words as you use them. If a word is new to Google Assistant, or if it hears a word differently than what’s written in your current dictionary setting, it will notify you and ask for feedback. For example: Hey Google, what does [insert obscure name of food] mean? and What do I say when someone asks me [insert request]? This feedback process can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes or more depending on how complicated a word or phrase is.

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The future of personalisation in voice interaction

At CES 2017, tech giants Google and Amazon demonstrated a glimpse of what users can expect from their personal assistants in years to come. Both Google Home and Amazon Alexa are learning from our behaviour and preferences and will start making recommendations on things like TV shows, news, search queries or even reminders in 2016. With improvements in speech recognition technology helping devices understand human speech more accurately, it will be possible for voice-activated products like these to deliver results more quickly. It won’t be long before our digital assistants understand us better than we do ourselves!

How the new feature works

The feature is launched in English and can be accessed by simply asking your Google Assistant, What was that? After you’ve triggered it, you will hear your own recording of what you said, along with three possible ways that same phrase could have been pronounced. Listen to all three options and choose which one sounds most like how you intended. That will become Google’s default pronunciation for that word from then on out. As far as I know, it doesn’t make any judgement on which pronunciation is better but rather creates a custom setting based on what is spoken to it. There isn’t currently an option for someone else in a different region to set up their version of what something should sound like. But hey, better than nothing!

Google Assistant to Help You Pronounce Those Pesky Words
Google Assistant to Help You Pronounce Those Pesky Words

Why it matters

Google’s Android-based voice assistant is now able to recognise and pronounce words more accurately, even when its user mispronounces them. The way it works is that Google has trained its artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, called DeepMind RNN-OWL, which mimics how a human brain works by understanding context. How does it do so? By being trained on recordings of thousands of humans reading from books, magazines and newspapers. The software is able to pick up pronunciations from real people just as easily as it would from another person using speech recognition technology with fewer errors.

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How it could affect your writing

Some words just aren’t easy for some people to pronounce. Take fiancé, for example. There’s a chance you pronounce it fee-on-say or maybe you’re one of those people who says fee-an-say. Either way, we know Google is trying to make speech recognition more accurate by giving us an assistant that understands our unique pronunciations. Now if only there was a way for my phone to understand why I can’t say that word! I seem to say it differently every time I try!

How you can use it yourself

While speech recognition software still has a way to go, it’s important for everyone (not just people with dyslexia) to understand how their speech is interpreted by others. While your family and friends may not care about word pronunciations, you may be surprised by what some of those pesky words mean and learn how they can impact your professional relationships. For example, if you call your co-worker Annie instead of her real name because you mispronounced her name, she might feel as though you don’t respect her or value her work as much as someone who always uses her real name. Speak clearly in professional settings so everyone around you can understand exactly what you’re saying.

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What questions you have and what happens next?

Google Home is designed to help you in your day-to-day life, and part of that means helping you with questions like, What’s my commute look like? or What’s on my calendar for today? But it also means helping you get more out of Google itself. If you want quick answers about upcoming events or people from your business contacts, for example, we can provide them directly from Google Assistant. Today we’re launching a feature called Personalised Speech Recognition (PSR) that helps us better understand words that may not be said exactly as they’re written in Google search results.

The inspiration behind this article

When you have a digital assistant that has voice recognition, it can recognize your personal speech pattern and thus make suggestions based on that. One issue with that is while it’s very good at recognizing common words and phrases, every person uses unique phrases and words that are not found in most dictionaries. Google has promised to fix that by adding an option for you to teach your Assistant what your frequent but not commonly used words or phrases are. This will be useful for people like myself who frequently use words like: OK, Duh!

Appendix/Further Reading

Here is a list of additional resources for improving your pronunciation and command of English . Check out our guide on How to Improve Your English. It has great tips on how you can improve your accent, vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension and much more. If you are looking for some help with specific words or phrases then here are some great tools: WordReference Dictionary – This dictionary gives you multiple definitions from various sources. It also allows you to add words to a personal dictionary so that they will be saved for future use. Oxford Dictionaries – This is another great online dictionary that offers multiple definitions as well as audio pronunciations. It also includes example sentences which can help give context about how certain words should be used in different situations.

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