Why Stephen Hawking’s voice computer spoke with an AMERICAN accent

 After catching pneumonia in 1985, Hawking had to have a tracheotomy which left him unable to speak

STEPHEN Hawking was an English-born national treasure – however his computer’s voice did leave some puzzled.

The legendary scientist, who wrote A Brief History of Time, eventually had to rely on a computer to communicate after his health began declining while studying at Oxford.

When his speech started to slur, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a form of motor neurone disease – aged just 21, in 1963.

Despite a bleak diagnosis, incredibly he lived with the condition for more than 50 years – before his death this morning at 76 – but since catching pneumonia in 1985 he had to have a tracheotomy which left him unable to speak.

Since then, the professor used a voice synthesiser which enabled him to control a computer screen using his cheek for data entry.

He would then have the computer read out what he has typed, in what became an iconic voice recognised around the world.

 The Queen even quizzed Hawking on his apparent American accent

When asked about his accent by The Queen, Hawking quipped that his speech was copyrighted

One thing continued to puzzle some, however. Many do not understand why his computer spoke with an apparent American accent, given he was born in Oxford.

The Queen even quizzed him on the matter, telling him: “Have you still got that American voice?” when meeting him at an event at St James’ Palace.

He quipped back: “Yes, it is copyrighted actually.”

But Hawking had addressed the question on his own website.

 Eddie Redmayne plays Hawking in the cinema hit The Theory of Everything

AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Eddie Redmayne plays Hawking in the cinema hit The Theory of Everything

Explaining how his speech works, he wrote: “When I have built up a sentence, I can send it to my speech synthesiser.

“I use a separate hardware synthesizer, made by Speech Plus.

“It is the best I have heard, although it gives me an  accent that has been described variously as Scandinavian, American or Scottish.”

He also explained that he was able to change the accent of his computer when the technology advanced, but he decided against it.

 Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of the morning

ALAMY
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Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of the morning

Hawking added: “My old system worked well and I wrote five books with it, including ‘A Brief History of Time’.

“It has become my trademark and I wouldn’t change it for a more natural voice with a British accent.

“I am told that children who need a computer voice want one like mine.”

Professor Stephen Hawking passed away this morning aged 76.

The English physicist died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of the morning.

In a statement, his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.

“His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

Stars have been paying tribute to his memory.


source:.thesun

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