Robot Grammar Nazi: Robot, speak right!

    Even when people communicate with an automated system, they draw many conclusions about what kind of “character” communicates with them. These conclusions are made up of many characteristics, including voice quality, a set of words, the way they are pronounced, etc.

    This phenomenon represents the company's ability to create a specific image and expand its brand through competent character design, which is the hallmark of the system.
    Some designers think that it is necessary to convince the user that a person is talking to him ...

    But there is a more sober opinion - it is possible to create not systems that masquerade as people, but robots that competently satisfy users, create new interesting experiences and add positive associations related with the brand of the company.

    There are many details that designers should consider when designing a so-called “character.” One of these details is the speech of the robot.

    In the speech of the robot, an important place is occupied by verbal markers [in Russian grammar - introductory constructions]. A few words will be devoted to them.

    Verbal markers are used to communicate in short form the various fragments of the statement.
    Among the verbal markers are the following:
    • Numeric : first, second, third; on the one hand ... but on the other ...; primarily; for starters, first of all; In second place; one two Three...; a B C...; next, then; finally the last; in conclusion, etc.
    • Reinforcing : in addition, in addition, besides this, above all, etc.
    • Equalizing : equally, the same, in the same way, etc.
    • Translators : by the way, by the way, at present, etc.
    • Summarizing : thus, in general, in conclusion, in general, to summarize, etc.
    • Attaching : namely, in other words, for example, for example, that is, so to speak, etc.
    • Summary : therefore, therefore, as a result, for these reasons, etc.
    • Output : another, otherwise, in other words, in this case, etc.
    • Reformulating : better, or rather, in other words, etc.
    • Substituting : on the other hand, rather, etc.
    • Opposing : instead, on the contrary, on the other hand, etc.
    • Concessional : one way or another, in any case, as before, however, nevertheless, in any case, etc.
    • TIME : meanwhile, at the same time, at the same time, etc.
    • Evaluation : in fact, in reality, following the facts, strictly speaking, formally, officially, technically, theoretically, etc.

    How can the use of verbal markers in the speech of robots help?
    First, the apparent redundancy of markers serves to meaningfully link different fragments of the conversation. “Juan is my son” and “Juan is probably my son” are two completely different sentences.
    Secondly, verbal markers serve as an opportunity for the system to confirm the existence of a dialogue between the robot and the person (and not just answer “Yes”, “No”, “I do not understand you. Repeat”).

    Let us now turn to the use of specific verbal markers and see how they can diversify the speech of robots.

    now / and now / now
    this marker in the design of voice prompts is used to indicate the connection of one level of dialogue with another,

    for example
    SYSTEM: Great. You are logged in. And now, since you are using the system for the first time, let me offer you help.

    by the way
    provides information "in brackets"

    for example
    SYSTEM: I am dialing a number. By the way, when you finish the conversation, you can not hang up, but simply say: “Go back” to stay in the system.

    oh / o
    marker of “cognitive mismatch” (what I know or think does not coincide with what you know or think)

    for example
    SYSTEM: Sport! Of course, sport! Oh ... Only this function has not yet been implemented.

    actually / actually,
    as in the case with the previous marker, it shows that something does not correspond to reality or is not quite true,

    for example
    SYSTEM: Actually, I can’t immediately go to this section. To get there, say: "Back."

    otherwise / or just say ... / or
    perhaps one of the most common markers in the speech of robots,

    for example
    SYSTEM: If you want to leave a message, say: “Yes.” Otherwise, say no.

    this marker confirms the user's choice and smoothly transfers it to another level,

    for example
    SYSTEM: Do you want to change your personal settings?
    USER: None.
    SYSTEM: Good. What's next?

    sorry / sorry
    this marker is not a sign of the system’s remorse (the robot is not a person), but a signal of a request mismatch

    for example
    USER: My PIN is three six, m ... no, it's ... two six four seven.
    SYSTEM: Sorry. I did not understand you.

    So, try not to use verbal markers in order to convince the user that not a robot is talking to him, but a human being. Markers ultimately serve to link the various parts of the dialogue together, which simplifies the assimilation of the meaning of phrases.

    Based on Michael Cohen ’s book, Voice User Interface Design

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