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McGill Reporter
September 13, 2001 - Volume 34 Number 01
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Letter

To the editor:

I often use the Vocal Directory as a quick substitute for looking up phone numbers in the directory. Although it works generally well, members of our community whose names are not English may find that their names are badly mispronounced. For instance, a call to Professor Giguere elicited the response, "connecting you to Vincent Jigaree." My own name came out as "BELLanger."

The system, developed by Montreal company Locus Technologies, can pronounce French names -- provided it is told which names are French, and given the accents. Banner does not do that yet. That would not cure the problems with names that are neither English nor French: the system will pronounce them according to English phonetic rules, pretty much as most Americans (or, for that matter, too many Canadians) would.

There is an easy way to correct this. Go to the web site www.mcgill.ca/ncs/voice/features/locus and use the name recorder facility, where you get to speak it yourself. The one thing you need is your staff ID.

I encourage everyone to do this, especially the francophones: It would reflect poorly on us to have a francophone caller hear French names mangled by a system in a Quebec university.

Pierre Belanger
Vice-Principal (Research)

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