Friday, December 2, 2011

Voice Recognition In Three Parts

Barbara: Part One: I, like many people, hate the sound of my own voice. Hate. It. I find it high and thin and just plain plain. Would that I had one of those smoky voices a la Kathleen Turner (never mind that it’s gotten so low over the years, she now sounds like a man, a sexy man, but a man nonetheless (sorry, Kathleen, I still think you are smokin’) ). But I’ve never had the discipline for nightly nightcaps and packs of cigarettes (you kids know I’m joking, right?). Anyway, you get my drift—throaty, sexy voice = good. My voice = bad. So imagine my horror on seeing video footage of me at a party. Yes, there was some drinking involved, certainly there was a room full of people over whose voices I insisted on bawling (BabyFesters, if you’re reading this, it was your voices), and what, under these circumstances, happens to a high, thin, plain voice like mine??? It gets so high and so thin, dogs howl in recognition (or abject distress). It is a nails-on-chalkboard-tin-foil-in-mouth-squeal-a-thon. I was devastated to hear it. That might sound unfairly dramatic, but let’s face it, we all have those moments where we see ourselves from a vantage point and we shudder. Not that I’m proud of it, not that I encourage it. It just … is…

Part Two: This is a nicer tale. You remember when I blogged about my aunt going to visit my mom in Montreal at the same time as us and I got to see her??? Well, consider this the ultimate in voice recognition: two generations, three women, all with variations of the same voice. If my sisters were there, it would’ve been five women. Seriously, we all have such similar voices, people will mistake us if they don’t see our faces. It’s funny sitting back, over dinner say, and listening to your own voice in other people’s mouths (okay, that sounds weird, but you know what I mean). And, okay, I don’t actually hate the voice in other people’s mouths. (Except when we all compete to talk and then the aforementioned high-squeal-tin-foil thing happens times 3 … or 4, or 5, or whatever.)

Part Three: Best part ever. I’m not a gadget hound. When I hear that new, amazing stuff has come out, the wondrous news kinda goes in one ear and out the other. So if it wasn’t for my husband’s thoughtfulness, I would never have noticed—never mind gotten—the new Siri iPhone. Not trying to rub anything in, folks, but just have to say that the future is looking pretty cool. You can now lift a phone to your mouth and it will understand you!! It will write out emails and texts and notes! In perfect English (or French or Spanish or whatever)! It will capitalize names! It will punctuate! It will spell correctly! (It will also entertain you with hilarious misquotes: when Phil voice-texted his brother that he’d picked up wine for the party with a concise, “I bought your booze”, it became, “I bought your boobs.”) Snafus notwithstanding, for a dweeb who can’t figure out how to navigate the tiny little phone keyboard, who would rather wait to get home than attempt it, this is truly voice recognition at its finest. 
Yeah, this is unpaid for, unsolicited advertising.
Apple, if you're listening--we can work something out ;)

PS If you haven’t posted one yet, we’ll be collecting your wishes here until Christmas. Thank you!!


  1. YAY! First comment!

    I sing in two choirs here at school and I am not by any means comfortable with my voice! When I sing with others or along to a song I think it's fine, but anything other than that= shudder.

    By the way, that's a pretty iPhone. Too bad I don't foresee myself jumping on the iPhone bandwagon anytime soon! :D

  2. Oh, yeah, singing is a whole other thing for me (a very, very bad thing). I wish I could, I used to entertain notions, but sadly have no sense memory of tunes (other than, you know, holiday carols or classic Beetles songs) which you kinda need for singing. (and no need to jump on bandwagons -- I actually think the voice thing will be the next wave though, no matter what phone you use...)

  3. When my youngest was about 9 months old I was singing her a lullaby. She looked up at me with those adoring blue eyes stuck her soother in my mouth in a clear bid to make me stop singing and went to sleep. Can't say I disagree with her opinion of my singing voice.

    My husband who is a gadget hound got his 4S on launch day. I think Siri is pretty neat although not on the level that he does. I tell you, love him though I may the man's obssesed.

  4. Erin, awww, that sounds like my babies :) And our husbands sound like kindred spirits!

  5. My mother and I have the same voice, to the point that, when I was a kid and I would answer the phone at home, or even her cell, the person on the other end would either assume I was her or ask which one I was. Even family could not distinguish between our voices!

  6. Steph -- this reminds me that when my husband was a teenager and his voice was just breaking, when people phoned, they often thought it was his mother (who has quite a deep voice)! Maybe not the kind of voice recognition he would've bragged about!

  7. I'll contribute to this when I have something more concrete to say. I just need a minute...

    my MRI came back normal. Granted, I'm super relieved that I don't have to have surgery, but at the same time incredibly frustrated. I still have this problem going on and nobody can figure out what it is. The doctor was even telling me "I'm just grasping at straws."

    I just walked into my sister's room and broke down. This vicious cycle is just...really getting me down.

    I'm sorry. I didn't meant to just come out and put a damper on this, but I just needed a moment to get this all out and I figured this would be a good place to do so.

  8. Barb, Oh my... that had to be...interesting for him to deal with! Well, at least his mother had a deep voice instead of a higher pitched one! :)

  9. ah, yes, the Man-I-hate-my-own-voice thing. Add to that a sort of NY nasal I really work hard to fight against and the fact that I've spent the year doing readings which I practice first listening to myself on tape... sigh. Oh to have one of those great voiceover voices. Maybe next life. Then again, if I have a choice next life, #1 is still to be able to shake my ass (hips, belly) like Shakira.

  10. Barb, I've heard you speak on television and in a film and you have a perfectly deep, sexy voice when you want to. So there. Not that higher thinner voices aren't sexy in women! I'm reading Gloria Steinem's essay collection, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, and she talks about the way women's thinner, higher voices are considered less authoritative and worthy of listening to, in this world, than men's. Even in private, among a mixed group of friends ... we sit up and take notice more when men speak. Various reasons, of course, but your entry makes me think of it. And remember my darlin', as sad as Marilyn Monroe's life often was, she cultivated a small little-girl voice to make herself more appealing to men. I'm thinking it's we women who find a deeper voice attractive, while men -- well, men don't care, they just love women (on the surface anyway; this brings up other issues)(I'd better not get started). My point? I don't have one, except the one on top of my head. But anyway, a woman as pretty and sweet-natured as you must not think her voice, no matter how it sounds, is a drawback. Embrace it! x's and o's.

  11. I hear ya, Barb. I do not like the way my voice sounds and I hate listening to myself. My speaking voice anyway. Listening to my singing voice doesn't bother me as much, but I'm still really critical of my singing too.

    I run into the similar voice issue with my mom. People can never tell us apart on the phone (not so much an issue now that we live in different houses). However, I too have noticed the women in my family all have similar voices. More often now, I hear my grandmother's voice coming through when my mother or her sister are speaking. And I know I'm sounding more like my mother everyday. I don't know if it's the Minnesotan accent mixed with the slight Scandinavian accent that my grandmother always had that seems to be carrying on through the generations, or what. :) My mom always sighs when I tell her she's sounding more like her mother, but I mean that as a compliment. My grandmother passed away almost 3 years ago and it's nice to hear her, even if it's through someone else. :)

    I also notice the similarity in voices with my brothers, though not so much with speaking. However, when we sing together, it's really noticable. I love it though. It makes it so much easier to sing together when you don't have to pay as much attention to blending your voices!

  12. I'll respond backward this time: Kate, wow, what interesting points you make here. It got me to thinking about wanting that deep voice -- maybe it's because I want people to take me seriously! Because I might have this deep-seated idea that they won't if I have a higher thinner voice. Especially since I am generally (so far) pretty even-tempered. Excellent food for thought. All your points are interesting. And I will take your final assurance to heart ('cause that's the sugar on top!)

    Gae, you so rock the Shakira dance thing if our video has anything to say about that!! (and I love your NY voice)

    Kelly, I wanted to end my comment with you. So glad you came here to let it out. Obviously we have no answers here, but don't ever let them tell you your medical concerns are all in your head. Especially when you are such a reasonable, intelligent person. Sadly, our medical system still doesn't have all the answers. One of my best friends has struggled with this situation for the last year. It is SO frustrating. On the other hand, the more I hear about these rogue bacteria that can devastate one person's health but not another's makes me wonder just how many mysterious ailments we face. I send you love and super-healing wishes!! We're all here for you!!

  13. Tomine, we crossed. What a thoughtful meditation. And I love your observation about getting to visit with your grandmother vicariously though your mother. That's probably the best use for voice recognition we have! (and I wish we similar-voiced relatives could sing over here! That's a nice homey choir.)

  14. No one likes there own voice...If you asked the great voices of our time if they liked theirs, they'd probably say no! When you hear it played to you, coming from outside your head as opposed to the usual inner playback, it sounds so different that it's impossible to reconcile that you go around inflicting it daily on people who are nothing but kind to you! You Barb...sound delightful...I on the other's remarkable I have friends...Just picture them tossing back a shot of something hard before we meet up so as to steel themselves for the auditory assault. But for all it's grating quality, its the sound our babies turn to in recognition when they enter the how bad we can really sound!

  15. Ah Kelly *hugs* Hope someone can find out what it is...

    I hate my voice, too. It doesn't even sound like a voice...not very melodic, not very deep, and not high. I wonder how people can even talk to me...

    But I noticed something interesting.
    As you know I love to write. One of my friends has two little kids, and they like goodnight stories. So I wrote some and even recorded them.

    My friend asked me, who that was, because he didn't know the voice. I said: It's me...
    He couldn't believe that it was me reading.

    So I had to prove it. He was astonished.

    I love to read things outloud. I'm pretty good at it (I think). And then my voice sounds like a voice...I don't know why, but every time I read, it's just different. I can even hear that...
    But maybe that's just normal. ;)

  16. Annette! so funny (as usual!) I LOVE your last thought, although I'm wickedly inclined to add Erin's aside, "unless they stick a soother in your mouth!" (points upward)

    Becki, that is absolutely fascinating. I mean, it's amazing. I wonder what happens. Does the voice relax? It's a gift.

  17. Thank you all. Reason #457674732745767734535365 why I love this blog!!! :]

    I HATE the sound of my own voice. I had to do a video project for class and we were all going back and re-watching the footage. I was just like...ew, do I really sound like that?!!

    Kind of makes me wonder why that is...

  18. I have never thought about it except when I put outgoing messages on my phone. Then I think is that me or someone else. I think it is hard to discern your own voice.

  19. Aww Kelly sending you good thoughts!

    Perfect day for this. I just got off the phone having a 3 way conversation with my Mom and Aunt. E for english, F for french

    Aunt(F)- Erin stop speaking french

    Me(F)- Why

    Aunt(E)-you sound to much like your mother in french


    Mom(E)-so what time are you going to pick me up

    Aunt(F)-wait I thought you were driving

    Mom(E)-Well I can't drive

    Me(E)-I think she meant me Mom

    Aunt(E)-Louise you speak in french Erin in English

    Mom(E)-well I don't want to be the only one speaking french

    Me(E)- fine I'll be the frenchie

    Aunt(E)-Wait whose speaking what now?

    Me(F)-I'll speak french

    Aunt(E)-Fine who the heck are you?


    Aunt (E)-ok so Erins speaking english?


  20. People say, "Where are you from? You don't talk like you're from around here." I'm in AR. I grew up in the FL Panhandle and southeast AL. Contrary to what movies/TV try (badly) to fake, there're MULTIPLE Southern accents. Someone from VA does NOT talk like someone from MS. And, even in GA and TN, it depends on what region you're from (N/S, E/W, flat/mountains). People from KY do not sound like people from AR. And, LA and TX have their own thing going. (As far as real Southern women, I don't sound like Emily Procter or Andy McDowell. I don't sound AT ALL like Holly Hunter (my jaw would ACHE if I tried to talk like that!). I sound more like a Faith Hill/Pauley Perrette combo. And, whenever I hear Kim Basinger speak, she sounds so familiar and homey to me. Her voice fits comfortably into my ears.) Anyway, even when I'm back down where I grew up, people blurt, "You don't talk right." Apparently, I don't even have the Southern accent I grew up surrounded by. Unless I'm VERY sleepy or dangerously, seethingly angry (profoundly, deeply pissed off), most Southern people do not hear my Southern accent. (If I do sound like a Clampett, you need to either tuck me into bed or RUN.) That's partly because I talk kinda fast (well, it's hard to keep up with the thinking!). And, it's partly because I've lived a lot of places over the years. Also, my everyday vocabulary is different from the surrounding norm. ("You talk fancy." *rolls eyes*) But, when I lived outside of the South, everyone was, "Omigosh! Where are you from? Your Southern accent is so cute!" Every time that happened, it startled me! LOL

    So, apparently, my voice doesn't fit in anywhere. Why should it? I don't either.

    But, sometimes I do realize that I use a lot of Southern colloquialisms. Every now and then, I'll have to explain a phrase (or its connotation) to someone.

    When it comes to writing, I can write (well) in proper, formal academicese. But, I prefer to write in my own voice. And, my closest friends always tell me, "You write just like you talk!" They tell me that they can hear my voice, including my thoughts and emotions, whenever they read long emails from me. I'm curious if one of you (other than Ruth or Katie K.) ever heard me talking but didn't know it was me, could you identify which bloggie person you were hearing? I would hazard to guess that Barbara probably could after we had spoken briefly. (Deb could always cheat and ask her husband, "Is that Rigel's voice?" If he shudders in horror, the answer's yes.)

    As for the sound of my own voice? I don't like it when I have a cold, when I'm using a cranky/snarky tone of voice, and when I'm very tired. I don't like it when it's nasal or drops tones down into pissyville. Otherwise, I don't have an opinion either way. I was a campus radio DJ when I was at university, and I was always surprised when I heard recordings of myself speaking on air that my voice is more girlie-female that what I hear myself. That's because I'm hearing my own voice in my head with the lower tones transmitted through my skull (vibrations through bone conduction) factored in.

    When I did martial arts, though, I was constantly reminded that I do have a female voice because my sensei would always fuss at me to kiai in a deeper, stronger way. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm Minnie Mouse or anything. But, I'm also certainly not Mr. T, either. I have a very female kiai. But, who cares how scary my kiya is as long as my strikes and throws are scary enough? ;)

    As for my singing voice? Well, it would make people's ears bleed. It's bad. I don't like it.

    One thing I am good at, though, is that when I speak a foreign language, I don't have much of an American accent at all. Native speakers often tell me that (with surprised looks on their faces lol).

  21. Deb -

    One thing I've long been curious about is do your husband and Brad Sherwood have trouble with the accents when they come down South? Do they have trouble with the regional colloquialisms? I didn't have the nerve or presence of mind to ask him when I was standing in front of him.

  22. Erin, that conversation is awesome! :D

    In the area I live many people speak accents (it's called Fränkisch...franconian), but somehow I don't...some people asked me, whether I was really born here.

    Barbara, I don't know...maybe reading is different than talking. Maybe it's like performing/acting?

  23. Awww, Kels xoxoxo

    Erin, that is sososososo funny! "Who's in French?!"

    Rigel, yup, I feel certain I would know you. that said, I read you in my own accent (unless you're "y'all"ing) but I feel like I could pick you out anywhere, certainly written.

    Becki, I would guess that's true. You should record audio tapes of good bedtime stories!

  24. I've been told by many people that my mother and I sound exactly the same on the phone. I find that odd, because I hear my mother's voice fluctuate. Whenever I hear my voice, usually played back on an answering machine, I hear a flat, monotone voice. That certainly isn't what I hear inside my head. I hear inflections and something a little more "female" sounding. Not feminine, just... female.
    I do, however, like my own voice when singing. I can hit lower notes and ranges (male tenor), and can hear harmonies in songs that I can sing along with. I don't know if anyone else enjoys it when I sing, but it's one thing I'm not self-conscious about.

    I'm from Boston, and I don't hear the Boston accent unless someone points it out. (Or giggles incessantly whenever I say "cah.") I've had people tell me they can hear the Boston VERY clearly. Others have asked me if I'm from New Jersey. And I do know that not everyone knows what "jimmies" are, and that, while I drink tonic, others drink soda or coke. And Fluff is a beautiful local yummy thing in my sandwich.

  25. Rigel,

    I haven't gone to any C/B shows as far south as you are, but I do have this:
    Once, in Delaware (which is neither here nor there), Colin said SOMETHING that, to me, sounded like Prod-yoose. The audience stopped DEAD. I've NEVER been at a show where there was complete silence, but there it was. Everyone was like, "What????" Then Brad said, 'Do you mean "produce?" (like carrots, veggies, that sort of thing) and as one, the entire audience went, "OH!!" Funniest damn thing.
    They were in Boston at the beginning of November and Brad tried that Boston accent thing. (Sorry, you can't make it up on your own just by leaving out the R's. Have a Bostonian say it to you, then say it that way.) You're much better off sucking up to us by saying positive things about our sports teams. Which Colin did. It helps even more to be an actual fan of Boston teams when they win the championship. Which Colin is, of the Stanley Cup champs the Bruins.
    My 2nd ex was born in Panama City, FL, then moved to Atlanta, GA, then Chesapeake area, VA. (Tappahannock.) After a few years, he had a southern Boston accent. I didn't notice it until he talked to his mom, who is DEEP Atlanta, GA. His southern turned into SOUTHERN quickly. Just an odd thing to notice.

  26. Here's a for-instance:

    Take the word "khaki's." Pronounce it as "Khahhki's."

    There. That's what we use to unlock the doors of the Toyota. :)

  27. this response is first, to Gae; omg, Gae. how would you feel if I told you that I hate my voice for largely the same reasons you hate yours, yet I don't hate yours! yours is very, rightly YOU. mine, on the other hand, sounds like a cross between Madonna (on a bad day, and I mean her speaking voice) if she was from Long Island and had just breathed in part of a balloon. I have no idea what that means. I just know that I wish my voice sounded different. Barb: no doubt, your voice is far lovelier.

  28. Dawn! My childhood = Pensacola, FL, Panama City, FL, and just over the state line in Dothan, AL!

  29. Kelly,

    Ever since I read about your MRI not solving your mysterious ailment question today, I've been thinking of you and sending you warm fuzzies.

  30. Dawn -

    Are jimmies the same thing as sprinkles?

  31. Rigel,

    Winner! Yes, that's what they are.
    I ordered an ice cream from a kid in and FROM Worcester who didn't know what they are. (Worcester's about an hour west of Boston, IN MA.)

  32. lol Yeah, I read them called that in a recipe once and had to figure out what it was talking about!

    Oh, Dawn, I hear Boston accents every Saturday morning. I listen to Car Talk on NPR when I'm driving to work. lol

    Tonic?!?!? I've never heard of calling sodas tonic! Funny thing: When I grew up in the deep, DEEP South, all sodas were Cokes. Example conversation:

    Person walking to fridge: You wanna Coke?
    Person on couch: Yeah.
    Person walking to fridge: Whadya want?
    Person on couch: a Dr. Pepper

    Then I moved to North Carolina and had to adjust to people calling them sodas.

    Later, I married someone in the Navy and moved to a military area (Norfolk/Chesapeake/VirginiaBeach/Hampton/NewportNews) with lots of people from all over the place. One day early on, I was involved in the following conversation:

    Yankee military wife: You want a pop?
    Me *confused look*: A what?
    Yankee military wife *looking at me like I've had a lobotomy*: A pop. A drink. In a can. You know.
    Me: Oh! Yes, please. What Cokes do you have?
    Yankee military wife: What do you mean?
    Me: What Cokes do you have? Do you have Pepsi, Mountain, CoCola, what?
    Yankee military wife: *silence* *confused face*
    Me, trying again: Which kinds of soda do you have?
    Yankee military wife: Oh. OK. I get it. *pause* Where are you from?
    Me: Where are YOU from?

    It was like a bad Who's on First, What's on Second moment!


    Barbara, your accent slays me! :D

  34. Rigel,

    Yeah, that "What kind of Coke?" threw me at first. "You mean, like, regular, diet, caffeine free?"
    "No, like, orange...root beer...Pepsi..."

  35. You really know you are busy busy busy, when it is your blog and you are the last to comment. And you did not even make your comment within the body of the blog. Sigh. But...our annual Christmas party being over, I can breath a little.'s weird the voice thing because I am an actor who does not get recognized so much by sight, but always by my voice. Even in the hospital the other day, visiting a friend, a woman pulled the curtain back that was around her Dad and said "Deb? Deb McGrath?" People know my voice. But do I like it? Used to hate hate hate it! I guess it's because I hear it played back to me so often that I have made friends with it. It is the sound of my bread and butter and yes Annette, the voice my son responds to. Love that.

  36. Oh man, now we're into the Pop vs. soda vs. Coke. In Scotland it's called a fizzy drink. In the "north" (AKA where I'm from) it's pop. Here in KY at college, it's soda. In the deeper south (GA, where my aunt lives) everything is coke.

    I just had this vision where I'm in this restaurant. "What kind of Coke do you want?" Me: "um....Cherry?" lol.

    IT'S POP. Then again, this debate could go on for hours...

  37. Oh mu god, Dawn, I howled when I did your Khahhkis prompt! And Lori, I am sure that your voice is as as lovely as you!

    Rigel, thanks so much for my other laugh: "Coke"??? That is sooo funny. And a HUGE thanks for the link to that old GAF interview. Wow, had no idea that was available. Man, that was good times. (and my accent slays you -- another good laugh!) Kelly and Holly, yes: POP.

  38. btw, I really love both of your voices...Deb and Barbara! :)

    Oh...and maybe a recorded voice always sounds different than the actual voice?

    You can only hear yourself "from the outside", when your voice is somehow recorded...maybe that's different than actual speaking?

    I'm tired...

  39. Just thought of something. I've been told people recognize me by my distinctive laugh. I know I'm not the quietest. Maybe that's why?

  40. Yeah, I've always kinda imagined some executive somewhere pretty much having a heart attack over hearing, "My favorite Coke is Pepsi."


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.