Why does Alexa speak to me in German?


I speak English. My Amazon account is set to English. My Alexa listens to my English commands and replies in English.

Except for new book notifications.

I saw a pulsing yellow light on the dot. I've memorised all of the various signs and portents the accurs'd device can summon up, so I asked it (in English) what notifications it had for me. It replied, naturally, in German.

I couldn't grab an audio recording in time, and I've no idea which command invokes a repetition. But the Alexa app contains a handy history of every utterance to spew forth from its speaker.

Screenshot which says "1 new notification from Amazon shopping: ‘Ein Autor, dem Sie auf Amazon folgen, Mary Robinette Kowal, hat ein neues Buch mit dem Namen Die Berechnung der Sterne: Roman veröffentlicht.’"

To be clear, my IP address shows that I am in the UK. I have never bough German lager from Amazon. I've never watched Das Boot on Amazon Prime. I haven't even asked Alexa to play the soundtrack to Cabaret!

Whatever. Eine Kline Glitche um Der Matrix.

And then, a few weeks later, it happened again!

Screenshot of an Alexa notification.  Amazon Follow: New Book Release.  Amazon Follow updates via Alexa.   Want to add Die Galaxie und das Licht darin by Becky Chambers to your Amazon wish list?

Was ist das? Ein großer Haufen Schweinescheiße!

To be even clearer - neither of the authors are German. I stopped learning German when I was 14. My liebe Frau happens to have German A-Level but she swears blind that she only uses it to speak with Hans, our flaschenspüler - and never in front of Alexa.

So what gives?

As far as I can tell, neither of these authors has a new book out. But a German translation of their work has been published. Amazon knows I follow these authors and, because Amazon are Kapitalistische Warzenschweinficker, will gently encourage me to by more of their works. Ordinarily, that might be useful. But as I don't speak the language, it's all a bit pointless.

For some reason, this only seems to happen with German translations. No idea why.

It seems that Amazon's prowess in deep-artificial-learning-neural-technobabble doesn't actually extend to anything useful - like making sure it doesn't read out garbled multilingual sentences.

What a bunch of Kartoffelköpfe!


3 thoughts on “Why does Alexa speak to me in German?

  1. says:

    I’ve been getting something similar with ads on other services. I’m not using a VPN or anything to spoof my location, but I’m getting ads in Italian


  2. Irene Bick says:

    I was once in a lift that addressed us in Welsh - but we were in Wales so that's allowed.

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