Speech Recognition- Happily Ever Laughter

June 24, 2016

Blog : Speech Recognition – Happily Ever Laughter by Marlene Schoenberg of Accent Wisdom, , www.accentwisdom.com

Remember the movie, “Her”, with the disembodied voice of Scarlett Johansson? For iPhone users, SIRI is a part of our everyday lives. We can ask SIRI to find a restaurant but don’t ask her if she loves you. SIRI is all business and the relationship will never get past friendship.

Did you know that SIRI stands for “Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface” ?

Now that you know her full name and not just some impersonal initials, let’s listen in to some hilarious SIRI responses to some deep topics.

If your question is, “SIRI, why did Apple make you?” SIRI’s response may be, “Apple doesn’t tell me everything”.

If you tell SIRI, “Repeat after me!” , she might come back with the retort, ” I am an intelligent assistant but not a parrot with beautiful plumage.”

If you admit that you missed something and say,” I didn’t understand it, SIRI.” She might reach out with the apology, “ I’m sorry, give me another chance.” Don’t you wish that people in your family would use that line?

Ask SIRI, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”.  Don’t be surprised if she quizzically replies, “Snow White, is that you?”

Your quip to SIRI such as, “Surely you can’t be serious” might encourage the response, ”I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.”

In case you are really curious, ask SIRI , “How much wood could a wood chuck chuck?” Of course, she will tell you, “42 cords”.

If you are so impressed with SIRI and say, ”SIRI you’re the best!” She might respond, “I’m putting myself to the fullest possible use which I think any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” Shouldn’t we all reach our full potential?

Bid SIRI good night by saying, “Sleep well, SIRI.” She might comfort you and say, ”Yes, I shall endeavor to relax my system functions in a peaceful manner. I wish only the same for you.”

In the end, does contemplating philosophy with SIRI supersede a rumbling stomach? Just have the nerve to ask SIRI, “What came first, the chicken or the egg? “. She will probably say, “I found 16 restaurants near you that mention chicken and eggs”.           (Inspired by Blog-OSX Daily, Dec. 29, 2013)

Be Open to Opportunities

January 18, 2016

At a New Year’s Eve game night, a seven year old was teaching her 3 year old sister to play a card game. The seven year old told her sister, “You can play an open hand!”.  The three year old thought for a moment and then raised both arms with her hands open to the Universe.  She kept her hands up in that position for a full minute. As I walked by, I observed this, smiled and told her, “You can put your hands down!”. I explained how to turn her cards face up.

This was my New Year’s Aha!  May we all open our hands to opportunities all around us.  May we play an open hand in honesty and authenticity.  May we all realize that this is the place where we belong, moving forward and growing into the New Year of 2016.

Picnic Weather and Dessa-Parts of Speech

June 30, 2013

Picnic Weather and Dessa


The weather for the welcome home picnic is perfect. Just in case of sudden thunder storms,  we will go to the indoor area near the restaurant.

I have been listening to a local Minneapolis rapper whose name is Dessa. 

Listening to her speak on the Kerri Miller Radio show on NPR, I was certainly intrigued when I learned that her newest release is called “Parts of Speech”. This is a topic near and dear to my heart when teaching grammar to my students.

Dessa is a thoughtful and philosophical person who knows her media and is not afraid to say so.  She talked about early music influences and how a certain Sephardic melody enticed her to learn more about music.  She also revealed that she came into music from the poetry of words.  

I listened to some of her tunes and heard a variety of slower cadences and some other songs with fast words coming at you like ammunition.  She talked about her physical movement style as “prowling” on the stage and aboutthe art and musical sense of creating harmonies. 

“Call  Off Your Ghost” (about moving on from a past relationship) and “Skeleton Key” (about remembering to use your inner resources) are two  fascinating songs from  the “Part of Speech” release.  The words play off strongly textured rhythms to showcase Dessa’s depth of vocal variety to express feelings.  She says that most of her songs come from her own personal experience. I was impressed with Dessa.

Listen for yourself and see what you think.

Sonia Sotomayor : An Inspiration for Inclusion, Diversity and Engagement

June 18, 2013


Sonia Sotomayor : An Inspiration for Inclusion, Diversity and Engagement   

diversity phots sotomayor blob(This is the first of a 3 part series.  Future blogs will address Sonia Sotomayor’s insights on communication skills and perception of emotions as important career building skills.)

At the Medtronic diversity fair, I noticed a poster that said, “ Inclusion means
I can be me. Diversity means I have a voice and engagement means I want to do
my best work.”

In reflecting on the life and successes of Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor,
these themes shine through. I was inspired by her outstanding autobiography, My Beloved World and  I would like to share her insights on inclusion, diversity and engagement.

“I can be me and feel included.”
Ms. Sotomayor stated, “What I learned from my Latino community in the Bronx proved as relevant to my success as my Ivy League schooling was”.

It is essential that we examine our lives to draw from our full experiences.

She said of one of her legal mentors,
“He gave me the confidence…that my personal background is something
better than a disadvantage to overcome.”
She went on to say ,”People I represent are diverse in their opinions, cultures and experiences but united in a common bond .” This bond is the struggle to feel respected and included.

As in U.S. corporate diversity efforts, she describes the role
of  her mentors at Princeton as “creating an atmosphere when diverse students can see their efforts accepted, their groups as distinct and their own traditions as honored.  She hopes that diversity “goes beyond simple recognition to
‘accommodate and harmonize’”. This takes constant  awareness and nurturing on everyone’s part.

“I have a voice in a diverse world.”
“As you discover what strengths you can draw from your community”, states Ms. Sotomayor,  “Look both outwardly and inwardly.  Build bridges instead of walls.” Too often we falsely jump to the conclusion that our personal voice does not matter. She reminds us that it does.

Sonia Sotomayor goes on to say, “There are no actual barriers,  just inertia”.  Sometimes we are lulled into not doing anything and accepting the old ways as the only reality. Gaining momentum can propel us forward into areas we previously though were impossible.
 In college, she learned that her opinion was valuable and fortified by the influence of like minded colleagues to build that momentum.

“ I want to be engaged and do my best work.”
She gives clear steps on how to prepare herself for leaps in her career to the
next level.  Ms. Sotomayor advises us to:

1. Observe.

2. Recognize your fears and insecurities.

3. When you get to the next level, give yourself a
transition time to ramp up your skills. 

4. Make sure you separate your
specific fears of the new situation from the general fears you may have
picked up from others.

5. Focus on areas to bridge your gaps and
work intensively on them.

To do your best work, you have to be a good listener. Justice Sotomayor
suggests a 3 part listening plan.

“1. Suspend Judgment.

2. Feel their Pain .

3. Point out a fact that they may have overlooked.”
To do your best work, you should learn from the best. She had mentors who
recognized her unspoken ambitions. She found that she could distill their
years of experience to avoid their mistakes and build on their successes.

We are fortunate to have a wise Latina,such as Sonia Sotomayor influencing the laws of the USA, seeking liberty and justice for all.

The Language of Becoming

May 20, 2013

The Language of Becoming

What were the recurring messages whispered in your ear as you were growing up?

You have to be perfect?

You’re not good enough?

You are college material?

Both the positive and negative messages stick with us.
In the movie,” The Help”, the African -American nanny, Minny, gives her charge the message : ”You is smart.You is kind. You is pretty”. She whispers these thoughts of self-esteem frequently and they provide loving support and comfort at a crucial moment in the film.

The vernacular is not Midwestern white middle class grammar but the message is so powerful for a small child. The well- known Latin American author, Isabelle Allende, says
“Although as an adult you may feel powerful, the little girl is still
crouching inside.” Strong positive messages build character strength in moments when
we need it.

How do we nurture ourselves when we are in the process of changing our old
speech patterns and reinforcing new ones?

The best way to deepen changes is to use positive affirmations. Some books on affirmations suggest that you tell yourself you have the qualities you desire, although you are not there
yet. “I am brave. I am confident ” may not ring true for you at the moment
you feel scared. Stretching the truth may not feel authentic. I would like
to suggest self -talk in the Language of Becoming to bridge that gap to feel
more congruent.

In yoga classes, the instructor Chrissy Mignogna , uses the language of
transformation. She intentionally uses ing verbs and language that is with
you where you are. This subtly acknowledges the hesitations but constantly
nudges us to stretch and encourage growth. I call this ” The Language of
Becoming.” We verify that we are well grounded. We sense where we are.
Simultaneously, we enrich our minds with goal oriented messages.

Rather than saying, “I am strong. I am healthy.” when you are not yet
there, it’s better to say “I am becoming stronger. I am becoming healthier through all the good choices
I am making.”

Let’s look at how this plays out in the media. The first example of mass media in the
Western world was the Bible. Moses was called upon to lead the Israelites
before he had the speaking skills he needed for the job. The Spiritual Voice
from the burning bush said, “ I am what I am. I am present.”Acceptance and
acknowledgement of a situation is the first step toward improving it.

Moses had to overcome his fear of speaking to lead his people out of Egypt. It is said that Moses demonstrated stuttering , which is complex , learned audible frustration beyond normal dysfluencies.Modern research shows that most people who stutter have a physiological predisposition to this speech disorder.Moses was highly motivated to communicate . He also had a back up plan… his brother, Aaron. Do you think Moses could sing?

Just a few months ago, another famous media person also used the Language of
Becoming to achieve his goal.Remember Lazaro Arbos on American Idol? He struggled with his stuttering in speech but sang with fluency, perfect melody , and good timing. What did he tell
himself to prepare for the interview? What do you think his coach told him?

He knew he had to talk in order to show his well honed talent in singing. He had to tell himself, “ I am
becoming a more fluent speaker.” in order to showcase his singing. He had to risk moving beyond his stuttering to get to the next level.

Accepting who you are and where you are in your life was also part of the
process of becoming King George IV of England. The movie, “The King’s Speech” depicts
Prince Albert as a person who stutters severely. His Royal Highness seeks help from pioneer speech
therapist , Lionel Logue , to gain confidence in his public speeches, especially over radio broadcasts.
Both Lazaro and Prince Albert knew that they had to work to overcome their fears of speaking whether to become a contestant or become the King of England. With the help of their coaches, Lazaro and Prince Albert had to resist avoidance and work their way though their worst fears.

Whether in speech, singing, leadership, yoga or king making, the
right coach at the right time makes a difference. The personal touch of the
coach is a sharing of positive energy. When the student is ready the
teacher appears.The coach helps you see the “open sesame” of possibilities and the path towards
becoming your best self.

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