I’m Back

I’m back. I’m even awake.  Actually woke up very early ,around 6 am and couldn’t sleep again.

It’s just that my mind hasn’t RETURNED yet, so I’ve been unpacking and stuff.

Tomorrow should be better.

Meanwhile, why can’t GPS choose a language for instructions but do the streets in the native language of the country you’re visiting?

While in Portugal, our GPS had a British accent. That’s fine.  For a long time our GPS had an Australian accent and the kids called it “Aunt Kate.”

The problem is that it couldn’t pronounce any of the street names.

My favorite butchering of a local street name was Moutinho.  Moutinho is a REALLY old name around the village, dating back to the middle ages, so there are a fair number of streets with names of this family. It’s pronounced Moh tee an [N sound that might not exist in English but it’s the N version of the l in gilhoutine.] oo.

I didn’t expect the GPS to pronounce it perfectly.  Moutinoo or Mootinoo or Mowtinoo would be acceptable.

Except the GPS consistently pronounced it as Mountain Ho. Clearly and distinctly, every single time.  Till Dan and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

92 thoughts on “I’m Back

  1. Could be worse. I had a GPS in a rental car that had the vocals set for “Angry Russian”… which I didn’t notice until I had left the airport parking lot.

      1. Bit of both, as it dead-ended me somewhere south of Brisbane, and yelled at me for being in the wrong place.
        Later that evening, I switched it to a rather pleasant Irish lass instead.

  2. Your mind hasn’t returned? Are you sure it was lost in Portugal on this trip?

  3. LOL 😆

    Don’t worry, your mind will catch up with you. 😀

  4. The GPS can’t even pronounce American street and place names properly, so don’t feel bad! (Glad you guys made is safely home.)

    1. I haven’t tried the GPS around Chiloquin. That might be interesting…

      Our weather radio likes to pronounce Mount Ashland as “M. T. Ashland”

        1. I sense some great comic potential here, such as a GPS taking on a South Boston accent or of a native New Yorker; Fuggedaboutit!

          In Atlanta you have to be careful because by the time the GPS has given the instruction you’ve missed the exit.

          1. Worse. Oregon if you follow directions via GPS to some Winery’s (nieces wedding …) you’ll get directed up a private (very steep) drive on the neighboring property … Luckily mom’s phone was more accurate, and we got there. Well that, and there were signs on the back track where we thought we went wrong. This was a LOL moment.

            What is NOT an LOL moment, is what happens to tourists allowing GPS to dictate which way between I-5, somewhere between the Umpqua River highway (through Drain or Southerlln (138), the two paths meet up – Hwy 38) and Grants Pass to coast via Hwy 199. It’s doable. BUT, you need more than directions from a GPS. You need road conditions open/closed. There are

            There have been at least 2 deaths, and luckily not more as there were also survivors in both incidents; directly attributable to inadequate information provided by the GPS. Cascades are almost as bad. Except there are no “short cuts” via back roads between I-5 and hwy 97, other than the major highway passes. You can take USFS roads, but they won’t get you far, at some point you have to be on one of the highways. Plus, when they are closed, even if gate is open, when it shouldn’t be, snow gets in the way in a hurry. Six safe methods between I-5 and the coast, and only 5 between I-5 and 97, if you are not familiar with the area, and don’t get current road conditions.

            1. We were following the 2006 Kim family search (they are the ones who got stuck near Merlin). It’s a classic case of they did almost everything wrong. At least the mother and kids survived.

              (I think that one was not a GPS issue, though. As memory serves, the driver didn’t understand the markings on the map and selected a road that either should have been gated off or was planned to. They got stuck in snow and things went to hell from there. We’ve had a few GPS failures in the area with bad outcomes.

              Earlier map programs were an issue, too. The shortest way for us to get from home to Medford is to take county roads to OR 62, then turning off on more county roads to bypass Agency Lake, then on to OR140. Mapquest(? In 2004 or so) first had us going east, then doubling back west on OR 140 into K-Falls, then south on US97 to Weed (near Mount Shasta), then finally I-5 up to Medford. I think it turned a 100 mile trip into a 200. At least it didn’t try to send us up to Portland first…

              FWIW, I just checked Bing Maps and they have the route correct. And yes, OR 140 is the shortest route over the Cascades in southern Oregon, but weather can really bite. It’s one of the reasons we keep at least one vehicle set with studded snow tires in season. It’s only 5100 feet high, but it gets a lot of snow and ice. People also tend to underestimate the difficulty in bad weather.

              I have the GPS nav unit in my Honda; it also needs to be watched closely. It’s tried the suboptimal route from Klamath Falls to home, too.

              1. Yes. Hwy 138 (N Umpqua Hwy) isn’t one I’d want to travel unless well prepared either. Hwy 20 until it meets 126 out of Eugene, is no picnic, but at least it has traffic. Ditto 22 out of Salem around Detroit Reservoir Lake.

                Not that we don’t prepare to get stuck, due to bad weather, on either 126 or 58, either. So, far (not that we are driving it regularly anymore) we haven’t been stopped (more than a few times never got started, but that doesn’t count.) Came close winter ’85, or ’86. Drove home from La Pine to Eugene via Hwy 58. Road closed not long after we got through for white out conditions. I think the reason we got through was hubby could reach out his window to clear the ice off the window wiper blades on driver side without stopping. Despite heater as high as it would go on defrost, couldn’t keep the blades ice free. Traffic line would pull off to get out to clear ice about every 15 minutes, we were able to pass everyone. Not very fast. Took 6 hours to drive home, 4 wheel drive, chained up, visibility 1/2 a car length(?) … had snow from his folks place next to the La Pine state park until home in Eugene. We weren’t moving very fast. Don’t remember how far the bad visibility lasted once we got over the pass to the west side, not far past the Salt Creek falls, I think; definitely not as far as Oakridge.

                Just did a search for “Deaths in Oregon due to GPS” … Wow. Knew there were more than 2, but holy cow, way more than two.

                1. Oh. You are going to love this.

                  Had to take an Amazon package down to the Amazon drop off, which is at the new Whole Foods downtown Eugene (Coburg/Franklin/Broadway convergence; I know that NOW.) I’m in very N. Eugene. Less than 6 miles. GPS wanted me to take E. Beltline, to 105 to Coburg, at 4:30 PM … I don’t think so!!! I had a general idea where it was but not specific. I made the poor thing recalculate a number of times, because I made sure to detour around the Washington/Jefferson bridge 7th street tie ups due to the bridge construction. I mean it got me there. But I’m pretty sure it had to be going “really!!!”

                  Then when I got to the drop off location a guy was muttering “Take me over Coburg Bridge!!!” He did the same thing only from Gateway. Didn’t know where on Broadway the store was, so relied on GPS, which took him to 105 exit to Coburg, which was backed up to the freeway … standard OP from about 3:30 PM til 6:30 or later. He was muttering …

      1. Some things are legitimately confusing. Wisconsin Public Radio supposedly had (has?) a pronunciation test for WI place names. If you’ve not spent much time in the state, it’s easy to get “Chequamegon” quite wrong. (Shwamagon).

        And then there is the state line (MN-WI) and minor spelling difference, that makes one place “Nik-o-let” (MN) and the other “Nik-o-lay” (WI).

        1. Beaufort, NC and Beaufort, SC are not pronounced the same. (BOH-fert vs. BEW-fert)  I wonder if GPS recognizes the distinction?

      2. I hate to imagine what GPS might do with either the Schuykill Expressway or Conshohocken Avenue.

    2. Gamestop: “Ga-May-Stop.”
      An abbreviated expressway became “expwee.” Fortunately we did not go off the road laughing.

      1. Friend wrote a very early text-to-voice app (this was ca. 1990, and it ran in DOS). Didn’t do too bad til it hit “Spaceman” which it thought should be “spaz-ih-man”. Hilarity ensued.

  5. GPS has flaws? Who knew! Knowing where you are is generally over-rated, anyway. Better you should know where you’re going to be.

    Many Happy Returns!

    1. Quoting Firesign Theater: “How can you be two places at once, when you’re not anywhere at all?”

  6. It’s the same species of I-know-betterism that gives rise to spelling correction that you can’t turn off–on information that is almost certain to start off correct. This is a grave and harmful disease and should be beaten out of programmers and requirements writers, perhaps by threat of perpetual IRS audit. Or with tools of pain and violence. I’m not sure which would be worse.

    Too bad we can’t turn it into public shaming the way the Left does.

        1. Oh, give them a program in Fortran II. That’ll bring them to their knees. (Had do do that in a class once; didn’t even use the same keypunch as the Fortran IV machines used.)

          1. FORTRAN IV – that’s my native language!
            Soken to a Burroughs 5500 in the early seventies.
            Good times.
            Our school sported a popular t-shirt for the computer geeks:
            FORTRAN jock – I speak in GO TOs.

          2. Make them work on Teletype 🙂

            To be fair. As already pointed out, not usually the programmers fault. So why are we punishing them?

    1. Requirements writers and (pointy-haired) managers. IME, the programmer usually protests, but is overruled by those who believe they know better – and seldom, if ever, do.

    2. My theory is that all programmers and requirement writers should be required to use the word processors they create. I’ll bet the ability to turn off those features will become much easier.

      1. Yes. I actually had to use a program I worked on, to create programs for handhelds. Trust me, took me far longer to write the programs I was tasked with, because I kept stopping to make the tool I was using easier to work with (TPTB had no clue how long something was suppose to take to write with the tool.) Didn’t find any bugs. But make it easier, oh yes. Next release got interesting comments from the target developers. Boss and supervisor asked when I had time to do all that … probably the only time I’ve ever grinned and replied “I’m that good.” Pretty sure a couple of my fellow engineer developers were on to me, but they didn’t tattle.

  7. Co. (company or corporation) is pronounced Colorado. St. Louis is pronounced Street Louis. Skyline Dr. (drive) is pronounced Skyline doctor.

      1. It butchers a lot of names. I don’t hear it very often, as I keep the sound turned off. It got too annoying. Sometimes it turns itself back on, but I turn it back off as soon as possible. The few times the voice directions are useful are outweighed by the constant chatter if the sound is left on.

        1. Anybody doing programming for such systems should be required to watch this short instructional video.


      2. My mother used to mangle “Worcestershire sauce”, by trying to pronounce every syllable. (Grampa was Danish, and Dansk seems to share the high-German tendency to pronounce everything one reads, regardless of the language. Mein Gott, if you wrote it, it must be spoken!)

        1. I learned how to pronounce that properly from Bugs Bunny: It’s “Worcestershoostershistersoostershire” sauce!

    1. And then you start referring to these things by GPS names, right?
      In our house when I have a hankering for guacamole and spice I tell Dan “Let’s go to Lane Fogata!”

      1. This particular GPS is combined with a dispatch system for truck freight, so if the sound is on it will pipe up with the names and addresses of the customers for the next load, not that this information is any more accurate or more current. The signs, if any, on buildings often are completely different from what is on the paperwork.

  8. The problem is that it couldn’t pronounce any of the street names.

    Nuvi’s male English voice says “Missouri” as “Misery.”

    1. As do I, after attending Army basic training at Fort Lost in the Woods in the State of Misery (Ft. Leonard Wood, MO).

  9. When dealing with technology like that it is better to laugh. If you cry, it thinks it is winning.

  10. Don’t worry, Sarah, this always happens when folks cross the International Brain Line…

  11. Welcome home!!!! The mind will return in its own good time.

    I wonder if the GPS text-to-speech translator is related to the Caller ID t-t-s one?

  12. For reasons unknown, some of the small cities around me have street-roads. As in Main Street Road. And the GPS pronounces it as Main Saint Road every time. There must be some reason why that redundancy exists, but I have no clue.

    Somewhat related is when you live in a subdivision with fancy foreign names like we did in El Cajon. Placing orders over the phone- “I live at XXX Via Hacienda” “Is that a street or a road?” “It’s a Via……” Made me detemine that if I ever built a subdivision- it was going to have Via Way, Strasse Street, Avenida Avenue…. And the tennis courts would be at the end of Basketball Court, the road along the river Railroad Ave, and the one along the railroad River Road…..

    1. The northeastern Philadelphia is home to Street Road. I laughed the first time I saw the sign for that exit.

    2. The town I now live in has a North North Street. It used to also have a South North Street, but that was renamed some time ago. And due to attempts to expand the downtown area that were not compatible with Reality, Main Street is no longer a main street, and the next street over is more of a main street than Main Street is. And then there’s the main-ish street through town named more the next town of much size it goes to (or comes from).

      1. One rule back when the individual towns that converged into Silicon Valley were still separated by miles and miles of rurality was that the dirt road leading out of (town A) that ended up at (town B) was “(town B) Road”. This of course means the other end of the same dirt track in (town B) was naturally “(town A) Road”. This makes sense: If you were sitting on your horse in (town A) and wanted to go to (town B), you would quite intuitively proceed out of town on “(town B) road”.

        But eventually the towns grew together, and then various methods were applied to rationalize road names. Much of Silicon Valley was gobbled up and absorbed by the major cities like San Jose, and they just decreed naming, but where the individual cities retained control they had to come to agreement, sometimes applying “from-to” naming, but that led to city-name-primacy fights.

        There is one street right through the heart of the West side of the valley that was “Saratoga Sunnyvale Road” in the town of Saratoga at the south end and “Sunnyvale Saratoga Road” in the town of Sunnyvale to the north. One would think they would meet up at an intersection and change names, but that was clearly too simple, not giving the municipality that had grown up in the middle bit enough say in the matter, so the name of a segment in the middle was changed to yet a third name for “clarity”, and of course that entire throughway now connects to what was yet another separate street in what was once another city.

        Now if you start out at the south end up against the Santa Cruz mountains and proceed northbound on the same contiguous street, you progressively are driving on Saratoga Sunnyvale Rd., De Anza Blvd., Sunnyvale Saratoga Rd., South Mathilda Ave. and finally North Mathilda Ave. until you end up out by the south end of SF Bay.

        And just for maximum confusion, there’s also a Saratoga Ave. in the same area.

        1. Saratoga Ave goes to the city of Santa Clara, then changes its name.

          In Santa Clara, when you get off 101 and head south at the giant statue of Mary, the street is: Great America Parkway. Which becomes Bowers, then Kiely. All in the city of Santa Clara. So it isn’t just problems between cities in Santa Clara County.

          Another example: Drive highway 17 northbound from Los Gatos. It changes to interstate 880 as it nears the city of Santa Clara. To exit to Santa Clara you take Bascom, which shortly becomes Washington and a few blocks later, Lafayette. (the city of Santa Clara has a lot of presidents, and other dead white men names for streets in the old quad). Lafayette will take you to Levi Stadium where the 49’rs try not to play.

          Anza and Moraga are dead Spanish white men. De is Spanish for the, so it gets tacked on because he was “THE” Anza.

          Ventura county in So Cal has the strangest names in the country. Oxnard, Ojai, Point Mugu, just for starters. The county seat operates under an alias. Don’t try to pronounce Port Hueneme.

            1. Thank you for the correction, this makes the street name stranger since it is supposed to be the guys name, and this makes it “From Anza”. Which is why i had always assumed… it must be some obscure spanish way of saying the, since otherwise it makes no sense. So it doesn’t make sense. Now I know.

              We do have some strange Spanish/English butcherings around the valley. We have the town of Los Altos, The hills. So next to it is Los Altos Hills. Aka the hills hills.

              1. Not sure of the proper grammar way to say it, but it’s also “of.”

                So de america= American (or from America, aka, ‘the American’)
                de fruit=> fruity
                de name
                belonging to name.

              2. As folks have sometimes observed, English is able to make a lot of text-based distinctions that other languages ignore.

                (OTOH, watching Naruto last night, and his phrase for “your friend” was about eight words long)

    3. At one time we lived on a Way court.

      For which there was something like a North Court, and an East Court.

      There was also, of course, a (name) Way, which had a South but no north, east or west.

      Only three of these connected at all.

      I THINK that they came from the city eating smaller towns…..

    4. Then there’s the city we all shop in around here. There’s an “XYZ” Boulevard, which is one of the longest streets in town. Then, just off of the boulevard, near where it use to end at a major highway (actually, about three highways are co-located in that section) before it was extended (20 years ago—yikes!?), there is “XYZ” Circle, which is a minor neighborhood street. In defense of the city street namers, this nomenclature pre-dates 911 emergency calling in the city by some time. My home county’s roads were named to facilitate 911 addressing, but it has several roads which are subsets of another road’s name like: “$LastName Road” exists and there is also a “$FirstName $LastName Road” where the two last names are the same. Albeit theses are often miles apart, but over the radio or telephone how do you know which is which? No, my cousin who is an emergency dispatcher tells me, they cannot get your location from your cellphone.

      1. I forget which state it’s in, but driving through it the interstate exits are for lettered roads. Some are single letters, some are double, and IIRC, there were even a few triple ones. I would think that politicians being the way politicians are, they’d all be named after someone or something.

    5. There are (or at least, were, when we lived there in 1990) two towns in Massachusetts that share a street. The town boundary runs right down the centerline. Fortunately, both towns know it by the same name, but unfortunately the towns set the street numbers opposite of each other. Thus, this street has two addresses for each number (41 Shared Street exists in two separate places, for example), not necessarily close to each other.

      1. In California, there are streets where the speed limit is different depending which direction you’re going. When I complained of this insanity to the road dept. they told me it was a zoning-boundary-down-the-middle-of-the-street thing.

  13. I live in Sacramento, CA. And my Garmin GPS mangles about a third of the street names.

  14. The world changes in your absence. You may want to sign the guest book for Pete Contos. As the Denver Post confirmed today, Contos passed away this past Sunday at the age of 85. The restaurateur created a string of beloved Denver restaurants — Satire Lounge, Pete’s Kitchen, Pete’s Gyros Place and Pete’s University Cafe among others, many within close-proximity on East Colfax and contributed to the community for more than 60 years.

  15. The voicemail transcript of my phone regularly goofs up the southern accent here in NC. Skibo has become sky borough, Rapha (our MD’s office) is raffia.

  16. The same English voice directed us around Carnaxide and Alfragide. The only reason we used it was the main streets were always clogged.
    Better to laugh, and maybe dig out a paper map.

    1. It took us off the highway and through a (genuine) goat track in what remains of the woods I grew up with. Not long, and a literal trip through memory lane but NOT FIT FOR CARS and made Dan cold-sweat and look for the shrinking button.

  17. I had a GPS with a pleasant female voice, which was nice. Except, I tend to argue with GPS, because they always seem to want me to take roads that I don’t like to take (Toll roads, when a non-toll route is readily available, or via routes that always have horrible traffic, or lots of pot holes etc.)

    So one day I was driving a friend of mine somewhere and she looks at me and says “No wonder you can’t keep a woman around!”

    I was taken aback, “What?”

    “You hear a woman’s voice, and you just can’t help but argue.”

    “But but but…” I tried to defend myself.


    Not sure if she had a point or not. LOL!

  18. Guess who’s back, back again
    Sarah’s back, tell a friend . . .

  19. I live between Mexia and Tehuacana in Tx.GPS has a real translation problem

  20. My GPS was generally pretty good, but had the annoying habit of pronouncing “Route 202” as “Route Two-West-Two” (which was a north-south state highway).

  21. Mountain ho – a gardening tool used by Paul Bunyan.

    I’m real old school. I don’t use GPS, I use a map, and occasionally a compass.

  22. Siri’s female non-‘murcun english-speaking voices are my preference for my phones, but the pronunciation rules are obviously tailored to the normal stuff one gets in each country. When Oz(female) Siri, the current one I’m using, is navigating, it produces some very idiosyncratic attempts at the spanish-based street names around here in Silicon Valley, sometimes along the lines of pronounce-every-syllable, and sometimes with no discernible method – and it always says “REUHL” for the ubiquitous “Real” (as in “El Camino Real”), as opposed to the proper “REE-AL”, where American(female) Siri gets that correct.

  23. Because of the density of traffic The Daughter and I employed the audio of her GPS when passing through a section of South Carolina which had a number traffic circles. The poor thing had trouble keeping up. We had inevitably already come out the other side when it politely informed us to leave the circle now.

  24. Siri has issues with all the Spanish street names around Tucson. It pronounces Camino de Oeste as Camino (gets that part right) Dost. Ajo (Ah-ho) gets turned into A-Jo.

    I’ll use the directions at time for places I know how to get to for the ETA function.

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