Tim Arango, an editor at the New York Times wrote an article yesterday criticizing the Text-to-Speech feature built in to the Kindle. Arango stated that the Kindle pronounces Barack (rhyming with black) and Obama (rhyming with Alabama). Gawker likens the New York Times homepage to having the same type of content as the Digg homepage based on this article and suggests that the newspaper company is being on the defensive.
If the Times really is being on the defensive side here, they have some work to do. Criticizing a feature that may assist illiterate or dyslexic people understand what is written isn’t exactly the most politically correct target to go after. The text-to-speech feature is provided by Nuance Communications. The correct pronunciation has been added to the President’s name now. The correct pronunciation will be added through a wireless update to the devices.
“These things happen a lot,” stated Nuance executive Steve Chambers. “It’s not even considered a bug. If it encounters a word it has never seen, it approaches it almost like a kid, phonetically.” Now that Arango helped fix a glitch regarding the President’s name, I’m wondering if the Kindle can pronounce Arango correctly.