New Zealand Desperately Needs a Kiwi Text to Speech Voice

April 7, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Posted in text to speech | 4 Comments

Who cares you may ask? NZ is a small country with a population of only 4.3 million. Can’t they just use one of the existing English voices such as American, British or heaven forbid, Australian?

No! It’s not about replicating the charming Kiwi accent. It’s because all the existing English voices do a laugable job of pronouncing Maori place names.

NZ loves its Maori place names. So much so that half the streets in NZ use Maori names.

The latest in car GPS navigation units offer turn by turn spoken directions. This is where it’s sort of important that street names are spoken accurately. Unfortunately they’re not.

Take this as a typical example as spoken by Amy, the latest computerized British voice from IVONA.

Turn right into Pupuke Rd.

As someone described it – it sounds like something you’d do after a very long night of drinking on the town.

Here is what it should sound like.

Turn right into Pupuke Rd.

Here is another example as spoken by Lee, an Australia text to speech voice from Nuance.

Turn left into Wairau Rd.

Here is what it should sound like.

Turn left into Wairau Rd.

It’s not a shortcoming of existing TTS voices that they can’t pronounce Maori place names. It’s simply that there are different pronunciation rules for Maori words.

A NZ voice needs to be developed that takes these rules into consideration and all the better if it uses a sweet Kiwi accent. That would be choice Bro!

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the smile, bro. I know, I know… it’s serious. :)

    Somehow, I think a Kiwi voice might be a long time coming. The return on investment wouldn’t make it worthwhile. I hope I’m wrong.

  2. Also searching desperately for Kiwi accent – others just don’t do it. Wish I knew how to set one up!

  3. Elizabeth(UK) by loquendo sounds a LOT like a kiwi voice.

  4. I have the perfect voice. Use me when you figure out how to . I used to do a lot of voice overs and my voice is very pleasant? not trying to show off at all but it is nearly but not quite as nice as charlotte from BFM who knows a app genius. ? I know people with MND and they would be much happier using an nz accent.


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