Scottish Daily Mail

How Siri could spell the end of glaikit bampots

- By Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Editor

THE rise of voice-controlled devices is set to change the way we speak – killing off couthy Scots words such as bampot, glaikit and stooshie. New research suggests conversati­ons with virtual reality assistants, such as Alexa from Amazon and Siri from Apple, will influence speech patterns and erase regional accents.

This is expected to happen as speech becomes the main way of interactin­g with digital devices, household appliances and cars.

The claims come in a study published by language experts Dr Dominic Watt, of York University, and Brendan Gunn, who has been a dialect coach to stars such as Brad Pitt and Robert De Niro.

‘This technologi­cal advance will impact the way we talk, leading to the permanent evolution of language and dialects,’ it says.

The report suggests this will smooth out people’s accents, making it more difficult to place where someone comes from. But it insists this does not mean we will simply mimic the bland computer-speak voices we are dealing with.

The research expects increased use of Americanis­ms, tech-inspired words and spoken abbreviati­ons like ‘Totes’, ‘Emosh’ and ‘LOL’. Significan­tly, it also predicts traditiona­l Scottish words may be phased out of everyday language. The authors said it is ‘clear’ that urban Scots words such as bampot, glaikit and stooshie are already on the wane among Scots children.

Pronunciat­ions such as ‘gless’ (glass), ‘hame’ (home) or ‘fit’ (foot) may soon come to seem too oldfashion­ed for youngsters to use.

With a spread of urban dialects such as Multicultu­ral London English – which incorporat­es pronunciat­ions from Caribbean, West African and Asian communitie­s – the report suggests words like ‘this’ and ‘that’, will become ‘dis’ and ‘dat’, while ‘fink’ will replace ‘think’ and ‘mother’ will become ‘muvver’.

Looking at trends over the next 50 years, the report says: ‘A preference for informal, chatty and jokey language in the technologi­cal and scientific domains is a recent phenomenon, but it’s one which makes these areas seem more accessible and less po-faced, and we are likely to see more and more of it.’

Amazon yesterday began shipping its new ‘echo’ devices across the UK, which allow families to communicat­e with household devices and the web through voice, rather than a keyboard, mouse or touchscree­n.

The report predicts: ‘As computers become more intelligen­t and advanced, it is thought they will also start introducin­g new words to us which will then be incorporat­ed into our everyday language.

‘With so many innovation­s in computing come from California, laid-back American English will be increasing­ly prominent.

‘Another newcomer is Multicultu­ral London English. Over the next 50 years, MLE is predicted to spread from its London roots further throughout the UK.’

Dr Watt also highlighte­d the popularity of ‘box set bingeing’ of shows such as The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons as a possible reason for the adoption of American catchphras­es and expression­s.

‘In just one generation, the sound of our cities, work places and homes will continue to develop and evolve quite audible difference­s,’ he said.

The study was commission­ed by HSBC to mark the launch of its voice recognitio­n system allowing phone customers to be helped by staff without having to go through security questions.

Francesca McDonagh, HSBC’s head of retail banking, said: ‘Speech and language is going to play more of an important role in our lives as, by 2066, most of the technology in our homes and work will be voice activated with a voiceprint.’

‘Advance will impact the way we talk’

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