Thursday , October 1 2020

How to change Alexa’s language or accent

Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant has a nice, soothing female voice — which can get incredibly boring after a while. It would be fun to be able to use Alexa with other voices reflecting different genders, accents, and styles of speaking. Unfortunately, Amazon hasn’t chosen to make that an option yet.

There is some hope that the company may start to make other voices available. Back in September, Amazon announced that there would be a series of celebrity voices speaking as Alexa, starting with Samuel L. Jackson, whose dulcet tones would be available, it said, “later this year” via an Alexa Skill. As of this writing, unfortunately, Mr. Jackson’s voice was not yet available (at least, not to me). Even when it finally is, according to its Skills page, it “won’t be able to help with shopping, lists, reminders or Skills.”

There is, however, a workaround. If you speak a language that is used in more than one country, you can get Alexa to speak in the style of that country. For example, if you’re an English speaker, you can have Alexa speak in the accents of the US, UK, India, or Australia, among others.

There are a couple of catches. First, Alexa will also expect you to speak in the same accent, so it’s possible that it will not understand you quite as easily. Also, if you choose to have it speak in, say, an Australian accent, then any Skills or other features that are not available in Australia will no longer be available to you.

One thing to keep in mind, if you’re really looking to switch languages: Alexa now speaks in multilingual mode in three countries: English and Spanish in the US, Indian English and Hindi in India, and Canadian English and French in Canada. That’s a nice addition; however, when I switched Alexa to Spanish / English and asked what the weather was, it answered, “In Nueva York, it’s 53 degrees…” Not especially helpful. (Maybe it was my bad accent?)

All that being said, here’s how you give Alexa another accent:

You’re done! And despite the warning, it didn’t take long at all for my Echo Dot to switch from a US to a UK accent. As soon as I tapped that final “OK,” I asked the Dot two quick questions, and the second question was answered in a distinctly English accent.

If you want to change Alexa back to its original accent, simply follow the same directions to select your old familiar digital assistant.

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