If you were Willie Revillame and you spent a tiny portion of your millions to buy an unlocked iPhone 4s and brought it to the Philippines to use, would that much hyped up voice recognition assistant Siri understand you?
Probably not. Also expect tough going if you talked like Mikey Bustos. Or Jimmy Santos for that matter.
“Siri, plis tex my iswithart hokey?”
“I’m sorry Jimmy, I don’t understand, but I can look it up on Google for you.”
In this case, Siri is more like “Sirit na.”
Siri is American. At least according to its default settings. So it expects to be talked to like an American. Or according to the settings, in “U.S. English”.
I saw this amusing video on CNET Asia passed on by +Jonas Reyes on Google+ that shows how an iPhone 4 with its default settings (US English) can be totally flummoxed by Asian accents. They used native Asian speakers with four English accent variants, Filipino, Malay, Singaporean-Chinese, and Indian. The results, as you can expect, were less than stellar. Click here to see that video.
On the other hand, this YouTube video by Appchat shows how Siri can adapt to specific accents like UK English, Australian English, and even German, by modifying the accent settings. However, it appears there is no option for Singlish, lah. Or Taglish.
So if you’re serious about using Siri, go off and practice your best wersh-wersh spokening dollar arreneow accent as if you were applying for a call center job.
This shouldn’t be too much of a problem for some Filipinos. I notice when traveling abroad that Filipinos tend to be somewhat of a chameleon when it comes to accents. In an attempt to be better understood, we can adapt to the accent of a speaker. This can mean going totally wersh-wersh in the US, adopting a more halting barok style when haggling in Hong Kong, switching back to a native Noypi accent when conversing with other Filipinos, and so forth.
So if you’re lucky to be able to unbox an iPhone 4S this early in the game, remember, she’s American.
Jejemon and Bekimon variants of Siri are unfortunately not in the cards for those native speakers out there.