Friday, March 2, 2018

The mysterious voice in the crosswalk signal

"Wait to cross 51st street at Cameron", a Texan-sounding voice admonishes pedestrians and bikers who touch the button on the streetlight post. Two years ago, we used a recording of the automated voice in a research presentation, which we gave at a conference in Toronto. Our presentation discussed the conditions under which Texans pronounce the STR consonant sequence, which occurs at the beginning of the word street, as "shtr". This crosswalk signal's automated voice is a great example of a Texan voice saying "shtreet" for street. Here is our blog post on that phonetic process.

At the time we were wondering if it would be possible to find out who the real human behind the crosswalk voice was. Today, Austin's NPR station KUT gave the answer: it is Lupe Alvarado, employee of the Austin Transportation Department for the last 13 years. Andrew Weber made the story that was broadcast today.

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