Working the Spoken Word

Notes from the field of speech recognition and spoken dialog technology, from Stephen Potter.

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  • Blog Post: The importance of your call

    Continuing an irreverent dictionary of voicebot vocabulary: yourcallisimportanttous , cl. Obsequious attempt to make the caller feel better about a dud place in the cattle queue. Actually means the opposite. Often followed by pleasestayontheline and yourcallwillbehandledshortly , and repeated...
  • Blog Post: Numberspeak

    One in an ongoing series on the all-too-common vocabulary found in Voicebot systems today. pressorsay n , cl. A request for the caller to choose an option by entering a number on the keypad or by speech. Effective in dehumanizing and demeaning the caller by requiring him/her to speak in number...
  • Blog Post: Comfort noises

    More System.Vocab . Here's the VUI equivalent of the GUI hourglass: bip-bop-bip-bop-bip-bop... int. A repeated sequence of usually 2 supposedly-pleasant-sounding tones in a rapid rhythmical pattern. A ticking system clock, how nice! Typically inserted during interactions for the purposes of (i...
  • Blog Post: "I think you said..." (therefore I am)

    Another not-quite-human phrase out of voicebot System.Vocabulary . This one's aggressively anthropomorphic (though I've never heard it in human-to-human communication). Ithinkyousaid , cl. Placed before a repetition of the caller's input. Signals a tentative (or medium-level confidence) understanding...
  • Blog Post: Got it!

    Have you noticed the sameness in the vocabulary of telephone voicebots these days? Why does everyone use that cheery got it!, damn it? Having hit probably my hundredth got it! last night - a successful recognition of a menu option (there were only 3 choices...) - I realized it had become a single...
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