Recently I was talking to a colleague who is a native French speaker (hey, that’s the great benefit of working here at Microsoft – lots of non-English speakers around) and she pointed out an interesting occurance of mispronunciation in French TTS that she found while casually taking advantage of speech technology (she knows I dig TTS). The phrase is the following:
“Un fils et un mari heureux”
Literally, this translates in English as “A son and a happy husband”; however, it comes out sounding like “A thread is a happy husband!”
Why is that? Well, the word for “son” should be pronounced as [f i s] but comes out as [f i l]. And “fil” means string or thread. Also, the “et un” string should be [eh ah] as in “and a”, but comes out incorrectly as [e tah] meaning “is a.” (please forgive my phonetic convention). All you linguists know that this is all due to liason.
TTS is cool… but only as good as its sons, threads, and husbands.