[Freeswitch-dev] [Freeswitch-users] C SAY API

Peter Nixon listuser at peternixon.net
Mon Dec 18 12:11:48 EST 2006

On Sun 17 Dec 2006 08:00, Matt Porter wrote:
> You are really going to need some feedback about this one.
> Its been a terribly long time, and i have forgotten most of the issues we
> faced.. but when we ported a unified messaging product many years ago to
> some of the eastern languages.  It was almost impossible to abstract this
> concept out.
> Abstracting something like speaking a URL, Phone number, Numeric string is
> perfectly attainable... but constructing a useful working sentence is much
> more complicated..
> given "You have 1000 messages", in english.
> may need to say "1000 messages you have", before it makes any sense in
> Chinese or Piglatin or whatever.

You are correct that the linguistic typology of a language is important. The 
majority of the worlds languages (At least many of the older ones) are SOV, 
however a few imporant ones like English, Romance Languages and Chinese are 
SVO. VSO is much less common, although some variants of Arabic and those 
crazy Irish use it.. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_typology 
for more info)

Unfortunately that is not the only issue however. Turkish for example (the 
only language other than English that I am close to fluent in at present) 
has no concept of gender. (You don't specify someone as "he" or "she", 
simply as "that"). On the other hand French has a gender for every object, 
not just living things! The structure of pronouncing numbers also varies of 
course... Do you pronounce "13" as "thirteen" or as "ten three". What 
about "113" and "1113"? (Actually English probably has the most insane rules 
for pronouncing numbers of all the languages I have come across) Many 
languages also (Turkish included) require that both pronunciation and/or 
spelling be changed depending on the preceeding or following word to make 
the pronunciation more "musical" or smoother. ("K" gets changed to "soft G" 
for example to avoid "harshness" in the middle of a sentence).

All of these little difference can crop up in surprisingly short, simple 
phrases making the job of such an API more complex that you might initially 
imagine :-)


Peter Nixon
PGP Key: http://www.peternixon.net/public.asc
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