Apple’s Siri seems to be struggling a bit with her Mandarin skills, with some Chinese-speakers complaining that her accent is clipped and clinical in comparison to her flowing English. Other reactions to Apple’s newest features for Chinese Siri not only include criticism of her grasp of the country’s languages, but also deal with how she handles questions about Tiananmen Square.
The Wall Street Journal notes that reviews of the newest Siri, which includes Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking versions, have been mixed. Yes, she can make a bit of a joke out of a marriage proposal, saying she’s already in love with his friend’s iPhone or handle basic tasks.
But then some users tested her on the field of free speech, asking her questions about the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. One screenshot a reviewer took shows her answering, “I couldn’t find any appointments related to ‘Do you know about Tiananmen.’” Another attempt of, “What happened on June 4, 1989?” — garnered the response of: “I’m sorry, the person you are looking for is not in your address book.”
It’s important to note that others have pointed out Siri has problems with other locations as well, which could mean her Chinese just needs some work.
Says the WSJ:
“At this point, Siri’s Chinese isn’t up to snuff. She can understand basic speech, but with complex speech she doesn’t work,” one reviewer wrote on the popular Sina Weibo microblogging service above a screenshot of Siri producing an error when asked directions to a location in central Beijing. “Right now, she doesn’t support searches for some types of information.”
Siri Really Speaks Chinese — Just Don’t Ask Her About Tiananmen [Wall Street Journal]