You are reading the ‘Dutch Australian’ blog, so chances are that you travel a lot by airplane. You will undoubtedly have heard numerous announcements at the airport, telling you where and when to board, informing you about safety regulations and keeping you updated about the delay of your flight. Did you ever wonder who these voices are and where they come from? Let’s find out.
Before automation of the announcements, they were made live, usually by a female speaker behind a microphone. At an international airport such as Amsterdam, you can’t get away with announcements in just Dutch and English, so the announcements were made in other languages as well. This was commonly done by the same person, who did not necessarily have a strong command of these languages. This often resulted in unclear messages and confused travellers.
The beginning of AviaVox
More than 20 years ago, one of the founders of the Dutch company that would later become AviaVox, travelled via Amsterdam Schiphol airport, heard these unclear messages and thought ‘this can be improved!’ This was the start of AviaVox, a company committed to developing voice announcement systems for airports and airlines with which clear and to-the-point announcements can be made in every possible language, without an actual speaker at the site. In the early years, the focus was on Western languages, but now AviaVox covers 30 languages – and counting, with a shifting focus towards the Asian market.
AviaVox is located in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. Every day, staff are working on grammar rules, developing audio, closing deals with airports, and providing support and maintenance. About 60 language specialists and native speakers work for AviaVox to make sure that grammar and pronunciation are 100% correct. For each language that AviaVox provides, the backbone of the voice solution is a database of grammar rules that drives the composition of announcements from audio fragments, including details such as intonation and timing.
Different accents in English
Now, if you are Australian, you might ask: ‘English? Which English?’ That is a very appropriate question, with all the different accents in English-speaking countries in the world. AviaVox started off with developing British English, which was used by all its airport clients. But as their market expanded beyond Europe, American clients asked for their own accent in English, followed by airports in South Africa, Australia and India.
Melbourne Airport has already used the AviaVox system since 2014, using the British English accent. But Sydney Airport would rather use Australian English announcements within its airport. As AviaVox has a strong focus on the Australian market, it was recently decided to develop announcements in Australian English. An Australian speaker was flown over to the Netherlands to help create the master voice recordings from which the required voice database could be composed. After a full week of recording and many more weeks of audio processing, the Australian voice is now ready for usage in Sydney, and soon it will also replace the British English still used in Melbourne. AviaVox hopes to implement Australian English in more airports in Australia in the near future.
So the next time you travel to or from the airport of Melbourne or Sydney, linger a little longer to listen to the announcements. From the speakers at the gate you will hear beautiful Australian English, developed by a Dutch company. Dutch Australian!
By: Minke Lok
As an Australian, it’s perfectly normal to me that Christmas and New Year’s involves the beach. However here in the Netherlands, where temperatures are very chilly at this time of year, a dip into the ocean is the last thing on my mind. Unox, however, has sponsored a tradition to dive into the icy sea on 1 January each year, as well as taking a dive in other locations in the Netherlands.
Here’s some photos from the 2017 edition. I have to admit, I received these in a press release from Unox, I wasn’t actually there – I was home warm and dry on my couch! Maybe one day I’ll join in.
Dutch press release from Unox:
SCHEVENINGEN, 1 januari 2017 – Vele tienduizenden mensen deden vandaag mee aan de Unox Nieuwjaarsduik. Op 142 plaatsen in het hele land renden deelnemers het koude water in. De stevige wind zorgde voor een gevoelstemperatuur van onder het vriespunt. Het evenement is volgens de organisatie veilig verlopen, mede dankzij de inzet van honderden vrijwillige lifeguards van de Reddingsbrigade.
Scheveningen was het decor van de grootste Nieuwjaarsduik ter wereld: 10 duizend mensen sprongen de Noordzee in om 2017 in te luiden. De duik had dit jaar een extra feestelijk tintje. Unox bestaat 80 jaar en trakteerde deelnemers en bezoekers van de duik, naast mutsen en erwtensoep, op een hartverwarmend oer-Hollands meezingfestijn, het ‘Nieuwjaars-kom-snert’.
Sjoelen, or Dutch Shuffleboard, was invented in Holland sometime during the 19th century. It is a great family – friendly game that is easy to learn, but not so easy to master! Keep your family and friends entertained for hours as Sjoelen is the perfect addition to any party, workplace or family gathering! You can view an outline of how to play on Sjoelbak Australia’s rules page.
The term “Sjoelbak” actually refers to the board used to play Sjoelen. Sjoelbak Australia specialise in high quality authentic Dutch Sjoelbak boards that can last a lifetime, becoming a treasured family possession worthy of being handed down from one generation to the next.
Today, Sjoelen is growing in popularity and traction in many countries across the world, including Australia. Despite originating in Holland over two centuries ago, Dutch Shuffleboard remains a favourite game in schools, clubs, families and parties around the world. Discover the joy and competitive fun of Dutch Shuffleboard today and take a look at www.sjoelbak.com.au
A great Christmas present for a Dutch Australian! Free shipping within Australia for a limited time.
MoU partners with Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands
Three of the world’s leading agriculture universities have combined their expertise to offer a specialist masterclass aimed at enhancing capacity within Australia’s horticulture industry.
The Masterclass in Horticulture Business will provide access to the best research from around the world by combining the expertise of the world’s number one ranked university in agriculture and forestry, the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, New Zealand’s specialist land-based Lincoln University, and the University of Tasmania, which is ranked in the top 100 universities globally for agriculture.
The partnership was formalised on 3 November 2016 with the signing of a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between the three universities and funding partner Horticulture Innovation Australia.
Head of the School of Land and Food at the University of Tasmania, Professor Holger Meinke, said the masterclass offered tremendous benefits for the horticulture industry and had potential to become internationally renowned.
“Future growth and prosperity of horticulture depends on a resilient, adaptable and innovative workforce that is equipped to change with industry demands. The Masterclass aims to help industry take their businesses to the next level by providing access to the best research and understanding global trends in agriculture and horticulture, international business, innovation, value chains, governance and risk,” Professor Meinke said.
This sentiment was echoed by Lincoln University’s Professor Hugh Bigsby, who said: “Our partnership with Wageningen Academy, the professional training section of Wageningen University, is a boost for Lincoln University. The MoU is the beginning of a partnership that will reap tremendous benefits for our university. This will further strengthen our already strong partnership with the University of Tasmania.”
Best described as a mini-MBA, the 10-month Masterclass is available to 30 growers and people working in the supply chain looking to take their businesses to the next level. Enrolments will open this year ahead of its introduction in early 2017.
The MoU ceremony took place in the presence of Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands at Cockatoo Island, off the coast of Sydney.
Dr Alistair Gracie and Professor Holger Meinke from the University of Tasmania
For more information: www.utas.edu.au/land-food/masterclass-in-horticultural-business
I’ve seen so many great photos of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima in my Facebook newsfeed and sent to me by members of the Dutch Australian community, I’ve started collecting them in blog photos on this site to share. There are three posts:
- King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima in the Netherlands (this one)
- King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima in Australia
- King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima in New Zealand
Do you have photos of your own to share? You must have either taken them yourself or have permission to share them online. Then please contact me
King and Queen in Twente and Oldenzaal, 27th October 2016
I made this picture last week during the visit of our king and queen in my hometown Oldenzaal. I never was so nearby this couple. I was 4 times in Australia and love your country and follow you on Facebook .
Groet Bertus Harberink
State visit to New Zealand – program
At the invitation of the Governor-General of New Zealand, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima will pay a state visit to New Zealand from Monday 7 November to Wednesday 9 November. The King and Queen will visit Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. They will be accompanied by foreign minister Bert Koenders. Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp will head a parallel trade mission. Before arriving in New Zealand the King and Queen will pay a state visit to Australia from Monday 31 October to Friday 4 November.
The state visit to New Zealand will focus on confirming and expanding the two countries’ long-standing and wide-ranging bilateral ties. The Netherlands and New Zealand have a long shared history, which stretches back to 1642 when Abel Tasman was the first European to reach New Zealand. In 2017 both countries will celebrate 375 years of relations. The state visit will also draw attention to the role that the approximately 150,000 New Zealanders of Dutch descent have played in the country’s cultural and economic development. Receptions for the Dutch community will be held in both Christchurch and Auckland.
The trade mission will centre on horticulture, life sciences & health, smart cities, sports and agri-food. There is great potential for deepening economic ties between the Netherlands and New Zealand, on agri-food in particular. Almost 60 businesses will participate in the mission.
Monday 7 November – Wellington
The state visit will begin with an official welcome ceremony at Government House in Wellington. The ceremony will include traditional Maori elements, such as a haka powhiri (dance of welcome) and hongi (greeting). It will be followed by a meeting with Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy. At Pukeahu National War Memorial Park the King and Queen will lay a wreath and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. On a guided tour of the Great War Exhibition they will learn more about New Zealand’s role in the First World War. This exhibition at the Dominion Museum was created by New Zealand film director Sir Peter Jackson.
In the afternoon the King and Queen will speak with Prime Minister John Key and the Leader of the opposition, Andrew Little. They will also visit Park Road Post Production, a production company with a leading role in the development of the New Zealand and international film industry, in the field of digital visual effects in particular. This is where the sound and pictures for films including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and King Kong were edited. In the evening the Governor-General and the King will each give a speech at the state banquet at Government House.
Tuesday 8 November – Christchurch
On the second day of the state visit King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will travel to Christchurch. They will begin the day at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, which runs an extensive breeding programme for the endangered New Zealand kiwi. After this the cultural and economic achievements of the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous inhabitants, will be highlighted. The King and Queen will visit the communal meeting place (marae) and the economic headquarters of the Ng?i Tahu Iwi, the largest Maori tribe on the South Island. The tribe practises sustainable and innovative agriculture, with a central role for the wellbeing of nature and the community. In the afternoon the King and Queen will visit the city of Christchurch. This visit will focus on the effects of the earthquake in 2011 and especially on the reconstruction and redevelopment of the city.
Wednesday 9 November – Auckland
At the start of the third day the King and Queen will visit the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o T?maki to view exhibits that celebrate the two countries’ shared history. The gallery owns two etchings portraying the meeting between Abel Tasman and the Maori in 1642. The royal couple will also view the series of portraits of Maori leaders painted at their own request by the artist Gottfried Lindauer (1839-1926).
The King and Queen will subsequently attend part of an economic conference on the future of food. This one-day event will bring together representatives of Dutch and New Zealand knowledge institutions and businesses to promote collaboration in the agri-food and horticulture sectors. At a lunch with participants from the trade mission and members of the New Zealand business community the King and Mr Kamp will each give a speech. Finally the King and Queen will visit the training vessel Spirit of New Zealand. While serving as the crew on this boat on five-day sailing trips, groups of young people aged 14 to 15 develop competences like cooperation, communication and leadership.