Posted by Joe Cianciotto
If I’m being completely honest when my wife and kids go to bed I secretly speak to the Amazon App Alexa so that my voice is the one she most recognizes in our household.
Okay before I start I just want to qualify something. I am not sure if it is an urban legend but I heard that the Alexa (Echo Dot) system/app that we all bought from Amazon and put in our homes, will actually learn to recognize your voice and style of speaking over other people’s voices. It’s kind of like a Furby back in the day. So to be clear my motivation to speak to Alexa in private is driven by my desire to get her to know me above all others.
I am sure you’re asking yourself, “Why the hell is that so important?”
Well while you may know that I am a dyed in the wool regional New Yorker, what you may not be aware of though, is that my wife is from the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania where they just got overhead satellite shots from Google Maps. Think the Amish farms…and then drive for another hour.
Anyway, so as you can imagine her accent is about as far from my accent as they come. And it never really mattered all that much until we had kids. But with the birth of our first daughter who I call Hannah (as it should be pronounced), Jen would instead pronounce it “Heyna”. I thought it was just the fentanyl from being in labor for twenty hours, however, I was wrong. This is actually how this woman pronounces my firstborn child’s name.
From there I started to notice the accent differences and it just got worse.
I would call it a glove compartment and she would call it a glove box, I would say hero while she said hoagie, to me a waxy implement is a crayon and for her it’s a crown…yes when I say it, it does sound like chawcolate, but you know what? We’re living in my zip code so it’s correct.
What also makes things even more difficult is that on a good day I sound like a middle-aged C.C. Deville, the washed up guitarist for Poison. And if you doubt that, I am posting one of Poison’s Behind the Music specials right here below.
So beyond my horrifically raspy tone, I have been waging this dialect cold war with that woman for the better part of the last seven years, and I am ashamed to admit, I have lost miserably. Both of my daughters have totally drunk from the Pennsylvania tinged vernacular Kool Aid and sound just like my wife. Sophie has a slight speech impediment so I am hoping that is to blame for the time being, but as far as Hannah is concerned (with the exception of her asking for a drink of “wauda”) she is straight up, full on “r” pronouncing Pennsylvania from her tonsils to her teeth.
Which brings me back to Alexa.
I figure if I can somehow turn the tide and get that goofy app to acclimate more to my accent from the mean streets of Nassau County, Long Island than to the manure speckled back-roads of Central PA than I have somehow in some way squeaked out a minor victory. So to these ends, every night after my wife and kids have safely gone to sleep, I make my way down to the kitchen where I make sure to talk to Alexa for a minimum of ten minutes via straight up stupid commands and random requests. Sure, it’s a tad pathetic, but in the last year alone I really feel like we’ve gotten somewhere. And if nothing else, I’ve learned a lot about what movies are playing in my area and what the weather is every single night.
So…if I’m being completely honest when my wife and kids go to bed I secretly speak to the Amazon App Alexa so that my voice is the one she most recognizes in our household.
Follow Joe Cianciotto here.