anon: (archaic or literary)
- in a short time; soon

50:50 vision

80:20 insight

Lost in translation

Quite by chance last week, I discovered a new feature on YouTube. I’m probably way behind everyone else … I’m sure you all know about it already. What is this new feature?

An automatically generated transcription can be quite handy … if it’s done well. YouTube being part of Google, there’s a fair chance it will add to the SEO value of a video. But that isn’t why I’m writing about it – I’m much more interested in the actual result of this automatic process.

It occurred to me there would a level of errors in the transcription, depending on factors like the background noise, but also on the person’s voice and speech patterns. It may well produce an excellent

“American” translation, but how would it fare with various British regional accents?


My first search was to find a commentary or interview with a Birmingham accent. Overall, it didn’t do very well … here’s a typical example:

“Great Britain – population 58 million. The cities with the highest urban population are: 5th Leeds, 443,000 – 4th Liverpool, 469,000, 3rd Glasgow, 629,000, and 2nd Birmingham, 970,000.”

“great britain – population 15. The cities with a high seven population apart from london: leads, 443,000 – full politically, 14 69% – third alaska, 629,000 and second birmingham 975.”


As you can see, it has some way to go.

Perhaps the Brum accent (which wasn’t particularly broad) is just too much, so I found a video talking about something industrial with the voices well-spoken from Southern England. Here’s a snippet:

“The method of securing mats together could not be simpler – just line the mats up, place the key in the hole and turn.”

“method of securing mascara that could not be simpler, just lying to myself, place the key in the whole and ten”


This one’s a Glaswegian giving directions to McCafferty’s pub … I couldn’t type up the original, so here it is in MP3 format … with the YouTube rendering:

“riley, made in china is we want is a we want you to state that would really tombstone to get to the postal buddy, jethro settled, mcafferty socially illegally”

Probably sums up drinking in Glasgow. If you want to see the whole YouTube (which I wholeheartedly recommend), here’s the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FSWlfcg6oA


Next I tried an American marketing video:

“So let’s take a look at this graph. See how computer use went down in 2011, and mobile use went up. So, keep in mind mobile isn’t limited to smartphones, it includes tablets, e-readers, GPS, any media consumption not from home.”

“take a look at this crap. minimally than michael, paper applicants, needed attention”

I thought the first sentence said it all.


Then I thought, ‘What the hell?’ … let’s see what it makes of Mit Romney:

“Hello, I’m Mit Romney.”

”But we should also spend some time thinking about November 7th”

“Or whether we took the first step down a new path that will deliver a real recovery and real change”

“hello annette Romney”

“but we should also spent some time fitting about november 7th”

“or whether we took the first step not a new path the will deliver a real recovery and real strange”


The transcription can be edited … I found a few which had been and were word-perfect. For the most part, the transcriptions were 50% gibberish. But it was fun doing the research.

James – More Anon …