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Speech Recognition Gaffe of the Week: The Well-Rested Warrior?

  • “Gentlemen, to bed!”

    These words are repeated throughout this video as British comedians, Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan ponder what it would be like to lead a medieval army to wage war the next day. They play with their plot line, humorously juxtaposing modern sophistication. For example what if the warriors rode at “nine thirty-ish” instead of “daybreak?” Or perhaps our strong leader would like a morning jog and continental breakfast before his impending battle. Watch one time and laugh. Watch another time with YouTube’s auto captions on and prepare to be quite confused.

    Unfortunately, the speech recognition software goofs it up again and again. “To bed” was almost always a different phrase each time. “Tibet,” “two bags,” “too bad” and even “hopeful.”

    As we discussed last week’s speech recognition gaffe, a machine’s ability to recognize words can be compromised by factors such as accents and music. The above tone is exaggerated. In fact, many actors’ voices or theatrical presentations are not correctly interpreted. We have become very familiar with this issue here at 3Play Media in our work with Netflix. Automatic speech recognition just wasn’t built for film settings.

    Another factor to consider is a speech recognition machine’s ability to interpret language in unusual contexts. The language model tries to predict which words will come next based on statistical language models. Since our actors are using an antiquated way of speaking, predictive text fails.

    If you require a transcript, we found the following on IMDb and added the remaining script.

    Rob: You could have a costume drama here, couldn’t you?
    Steve: I would love-I’d absolutely-I’d just love to do a costume drama in these hills, leaping, vaulting over dry stone walls with a scabbard, with that dead look in my eyes, ’cause I’ve seen so many horrors that I’m sort of immune to them, and I’d say something like, “Gentlemen, to bed! Gentlemen, to bed, for we leave at first light. Tomorrow we battle, and we may lose our lives. But remember: death is but a moment. Cowardice is a lifetime affliction.”
    Rob: Nice.
    Steve: To bed, for we rise at daybreak!
    Rob: Very good. Very impressive.
    Steve: But they always, they always leave at daybreak. They never leave at, you know, nine thirty. “Gentlemen to bed, for we leave at nine thirty!”
    Rob: Ish.
    Steve: Ish. “Gentlemen to bed, for we rise at… What time is the battle? About, oh, twelve o’clock? Right, twelve o’clock. How is it on horseback, about three hours? So we leave about eight, eight-thirty?”
    Rob: Eight-thirty for nine.
    Steve: “Gentlemen, to bed! For we leave at eight thirty for nine. And we rise at, just after daybreak. Seven thirty, so just after daybreak. Gentlemen to bed, for we leave at nine thirty on the dot. On the dot.”
    Rob: Do you want to have a run, sire, in the morning? Just to loosen up, sire.
    Steve: Yes.
    Rob: Another thing they never say is, “Right! Well! We’d better make a move. I want to get back in daylight. We’d better make a move.”
    Steve: To bed! Tomorrow we ride! We leave at ten-ish.
    Rob: But now, to bed. Unless you are one of those people, like me, who finds it very hard to get off after he has eaten cheese. In which case, stay awhile by the fire, talk to battles past and old. And then, and only then sire, do thee to bed.
    Steve: And sleep well.
    Rob: Sleep the sleep of a thousand martyrs.
    Steve: Sleep well my brother.
    Rob: Sleep well my sister. Sleep with my sister.
    Steve: Sleep well my brother, sleep well my sister, but please do not sleep with my sister.
    Rob: Leave my sister out of it, or-
    Steve: Leave her alone.
    Rob: Don’t touch her.
    Steve: Gentlemen to bed. For at daybreak I will–
    Rob: Breakfast.
    Steve: We will breakfast.
    Rob: Sire, sire, there is a continental breakfast. T’will only take 20 minutes, max.
    Steve: Thank you brother Rob.
    Rob: Brother Rob? Brother Rob? I should be Brother Jed.
    Steve: No, no, haven’t you seen Rob Roy? Liam Neason in a kilt. Of course you could be called that.
    Rob: No, no. Tomorrow we shall have breakfast. We shall rise at nine. And we shall head off tomorrow morning.
    Steve: Thank you Brother Rob and let me say this. Look into my eyes. You are my brother and you sound a bit like Billy Connolly.
    Rob: I know, I know, I can’t help it.
    Steve: Gentlemen, to bed, for tomorrow we rise at daybreak.
    Rob: Daybreak! Rise at daybreak!
    Steve: Pray that they always rise at daybreak.

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