Speech scientists seeking local male dialect voices

A TEAM of speech scientists from a motor neurone disease (MND) research centre are seeking male Shetland dialect voices to aid their work on Thursday and Friday.

Clinical researchers from the Speak:Unique project – which sees researchers working with University of Edinburgh’s centre for speech technology research – are going around Scotland building up a bank of different accents.

They will be used to make communication aids more reflective of the individual who has lost the power of speech.

Lynda Tomarelli of the Anne Rowling regenerative neurology clinic said: “The voices that are already installed on communication aids when the person is no longer able to talk tend to be very generic – one English male and one English female accent, which obviously isn’t very reflective of the person.

“We want to provide one that is actually based on the patient voice. We record patients, but we also record donors, so we want to have full accent coverage across Scotland, and we think that – particularly for accents that are quite special and unique – there’s real importance for the patient in being able to retain that.”

She explained that the team were trying to build up 25 male and 25 female voices in each accent, recording around 400 sentences, before the voices are “blended together so they are anonymised”.

Speak:Unique has already signed up enough female voices in Shetland, but is still looking for another 12 male volunteers to help out.

The voice recordings will be done at Mareel and slots are available at noon, 12.30pm, 2pm, 2.30pm, 4pm and 4.30pm on Thursday, and then at 10am, 10.30am, noon and 12.30pm on Friday..

  • Anyone over the age of 16 who has a Shetland accent and no speech or reading disabilities can take part. For more information you can email info@speakunique.org.