Amazon Alexa settles the ‘scone’ debate for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee


With their crumbly texture and smeared with clotted cream and jam, scones are a favourite treat with Brits across the UK. 

But despite dating back to the early 1500s, one question remains – how do you pronounce the word ‘scone’?

Now, Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa, claims to have settled the debate, just in time for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.   

Alexa claims ‘scone’ should rhyme with ‘gone’ rather than ‘own’ when speaking the Queen’s English.

Users just need to say ‘Alexa, what’s the correct way to pronounce scone?’ to get the response: ‘I pronounce it scone, to rhyme with gone, just like the Queen does.’ 

With their crumbly texture and smeared with clotted cream and jam, scones are a favourite treat with Brits across the UK. But despite dating bacck to the early 1500s, one question remains – how do you pronounce the word ‘scone’? 

JUBILEE QUESTIONS TO ASK ALEXA 

– Alexa, should I put cream or jam on a scone first?

– Alexa, what’s the correct way to pronounce scone?

– Alexa, what’s the correct way to hold a cup of tea?

– Alexa, how does one have afternoon tea like the Queen?

– Alexa, what’s the correct way to stir a cup of tea?

– Alexa, what’s the correct way to eat sandwiches during afternoon tea? 

According to Cambridge University, rhyming scone with ‘gone’ is much more common in the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, those who rhyme it with ‘own’ tend to be in the Cornwall, the Midlands and Southern Ireland. The rest of the UK seems to show a lot of variation, depending on community. 

Some people in Scotland, where scones are thought to have originated in the 1500s, even use a third pronunciation – ‘skoon’, to rhyme with ‘moon’. 

According to a 2016 YouGov poll, most Brits pronounce the word to rhyme with gone – which is also the pronunciation Mary Berry uses. 

Alexa has been loaded with royal trivia to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, including answers to ‘how many corgis does the Queen have?’, ‘what is the Royal Family’s surname?’ and ‘does the Queen need a passport?’ 

The smart assistant has been trained with lessons from the etiquette coach William Hanson, Royal expert Jennie Bond and the Queen’s former chef Darren McGrady, Amazon says. 

‘When I started as a young chef at Buckingham Palace, it was fascinating to see how important afternoon tea was to the Queen,’ said McGrady.

Alexa has been trained with lessons from the UK’s leading etiquette coach William Hanson (pictured with the fourth-generation Amazon Echo), Royal expert Jennie Bond and the Queen’s former chef Darren McGrady

Alexa has been trained with lessons from the UK’s leading etiquette coach William Hanson (pictured with the fourth-generation Amazon Echo), Royal expert Jennie Bond and the Queen’s former chef Darren McGrady

‘It’s a pleasure to be able to share my expertise of the tradition through Alexa.’ 

Other lunch-themed questions that users can ask Alexa include ‘should I put cream or jam on a scone first?’, ‘what’s the correct way to hold a cup of tea?’ and ‘what’s the correct way to stir a cup of tea?’

Alexa won’t give a straight answer, however, when you ask her if you should be putting jam or cream on your scone first. 

Alexa says: ‘In Cornwall the cream is added last, in Devon the cream goes first, but you can do as you please. 

‘However, putting jam on one half, and cream on the other and sandwiching them together isn’t the correct etiquette for the Queen.’ 

Amazon's smart assistant powers the Echo speakers, including the spherical fourth generation Echo released in autumn 2020 (pictured)

Amazon’s smart assistant powers the Echo speakers, including the spherical fourth generation Echo released in autumn 2020 (pictured)

According to McGrady, the Queen enjoys a full afternoon tea of scones, sandwiches and pastries.

‘Two types of sandwiches, often English York ham with English mustard and cucumber, with the skin removed and sent to the royal cellars for Pimm’s garnish,’ he said. 

‘In terms of scones – one day plain and one day with raisins folded through. 

‘Also, tiny pastries like raspberry tartlets and a ‘cut cake’ (one that she can cut a slice out of) honey and cream sponge, fruit cake, banana bread, or her favourite chocolate biscuit cake. 

‘All washed down with a delightful steaming hot cup of Earl Grey tea.’ 

AMAZON ROLLS OUT A MALE VOICE FOR ITS SPEAKERS BUT INSISTS IT’S NOT CALLED ‘ZIGGY’ (UNLESS YOU WANT IT TO BE)

In 2021, Amazon introduced a male voice to its smart speakers, following accusations of sexism. 

A female voice reinforces the idea that women are ‘subservient’, the UN had said, and encourages harmful gender biases.

There’s a short snippet of the voice here, which has a generic but robotic-sounding English accent.  

Amazon also introduced a fourth ‘wake word’ (words that users can say before a command to make sure the smart assistant is listening) for US users. 

This new wake word, Ziggy, offers an alternative to the existing three wake words – Computer, Amazon and Echo. 

However, the tech giant has insisted that Ziggy is an additional wake word and not the name of the new male voice option.

Users can choose between either the male or female voice and use any of the wake words to activate them, meaning users could potentially start a command with the word ‘Ziggy’ and hear the female voice responding. 

Amazon is expected to also roll out ‘Ziggy’ as a fourth wake word for UK users sometime this year, after doing so for US users last summer. 

The masculine voice option was launched in the UK at the end of last year, a few months after it was introduced for US users. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk