How Amazon Taught Alexa to Speak in an Irish Brogue

Like Henry Higgins, the phonetician from George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion,” Marius Cotescu and Georgi Tinchev recently demonstrated how their student was trying to overcome pronunciation difficulties.

The two data scientists, who work for Amazon in Europe, were teaching Alexa, the company’s digital assistant. Their task: to help Alexa master an Irish-accented English with the aid of artificial intelligence and recordings from native speakers.

During the demonstration, Alexa spoke about a memorable night out. “The party last night was great craic,” Alexa said with a lilt, using the Irish word for fun. “We got ice cream on the way home, and we were happy out.”

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