If there is anyone who doesn’t understand me these days, it is Siri. Most times, she doesn’t understand a word I say. Occasionally I can get her to perform a command to find a location or call my daughter, but more often than not, Siri is clueless as to what I am asking. Voice recognition devices, such as Apple’s Siri or Google’s Alexa, were not made for Southern accents, and they have yet to add an algorithm that will help us communicate. As I write this column, bear in mind that I am often completely misunderstood when it comes to voice recognition.
Where am I going? With the virtual meetings in the past year and having to listen to presentations for the information I need, I have found that turning on the Closed Caption feature, which types out the words as they are being said, helps with note taking. It has also provided a full-on belly laugh at the interpretation of some common words.
Very little is said in these presentations that is terminology unfamiliar to me. The same cannot be said for the CC feature. For example, in a presentation by Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia Extension plant pathologist, the product combination Miravis/Elatus translated to “America is the greatest” and “Barbosa lattices.” Say what?
Although wrong, something can be said for the CC feature’s creativity. In a presentation by Virginia Tech Tidewater Agricultural Research And Extension Center plant pathologist David Langston, Sclerotinia blight was mentioned often because it is a primary disease in the region.
I understand the Virginia accent is very different from my own, but the CC feature never came close to getting it correct and never got it wrong the same way twice. Sclerotinia blight was interpreted as “the flirting you might,” “sclera Kenya blight,” “scorching and white,” “SLR tenure white,” “set of fortune you might,” “misfortune you bite,” and “square root tenure blight.” Kudos to the CC feature for creativity in being spectacularly wrong. For proof that I know perfectly well what Dr. Langston was saying about Sclerotinia blight management, see the article on page 12.
If I have one more reason in wanting to return to in-person meetings, it is that I am now spending so much time laughing at the interpretation of our most common words that I have to restart presentations again and again to take the notes as I need.