Accents vs. Mispronunciation

Comments about LibriVox? Suggestions to improve things? News?
chocoholic
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 13925
Joined: January 16th, 2007, 9:23 am
Contact:

Post by chocoholic » June 9th, 2012, 1:49 pm

I know, David, have you never heard of dramatic effect?

I say "reek" myself, but I have heard it as "wreck" before and I knew that was equally OK. I suppose how you say it depends on where you're from.

I got myself into trouble when I recorded a journal written by a woman who grew up near where I did -- but she was educated in France, so her journal had French phrases sprinkled all through it. :lol: I think I already apologized to the French-speaking world for that one. I like to imagine that I sound a little like she would have, other than the French of course.
Laurie Anne

Alatariel
Posts: 18
Joined: December 25th, 2011, 7:39 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Post by Alatariel » June 9th, 2012, 3:12 pm

Foreign names and loan words, on the other hand, really don't bother me if they're not pronounced perfectly "authentically". I knew someone in undergrad who used to berate people for saying things like "SAHR-truh" (with English R sounds instead of French ones). That's kind of an over-the-top complaint (and I'm glad nobody has raised it here).

I'm an American, I speak with an American accent, and in my experience it's perfectly standard among educated Americans to say "SAHR-truh" -- it doesn't betray a shocking lack of culturedness or anything like that. I think that my complaining acquaintance, also being American, should have known this. I know that I for one pronounce German names differently depending on whether I'm speaking English or German at the time. (I don't speak German natively, but it's the language I speak the best besides English.) I find switching to German phonology for a single word rather difficult (and I'd feel pretentious if I tried), but the reverse is much easier (probably because of how natural my own accent feels to me…being my own accent and all :lol: ).
Absolutely could not force myself to listen further than the title when the reader pronounced Don Juan as "Don Jew-an." For Pete's SAKE!!
This has got to be a troll, right? :wink:

annise
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 32298
Joined: April 3rd, 2008, 3:55 am
Location: Melbourne,Australia

Post by annise » June 9th, 2012, 4:48 pm

Not a troll just someone who doesn't realise how lucky we all are to be able with a very little effort on our part to understand so many people from so many countries. If you stay all your life in the one place with the same group of people and have all your films and TV and radio from people who speak like you do then you believe that yours is the right way to speak and anyone who doesn't speak that way is uneducated. And also to believe that language never changes.

Sad really

Anne

neckertb
Posts: 12806
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:47 am
Location: French in Denmark

Post by neckertb » June 10th, 2012, 4:56 am

Alatariel wrote:Foreign names and loan words, on the other hand, really don't bother me if they're not pronounced perfectly "authentically". I knew someone in undergrad who used to berate people for saying things like "SAHR-truh" (with English R sounds instead of French ones). That's kind of an over-the-top complaint (and I'm glad nobody has raised it here).
(Takes admin hat off, really tired of people complaining again about this issue. I realize new people might not know this, but it has been raised a thousand times before, and we still have not changed our minds).

Now, see, that actually bothers me more than accents and normal mispronunciations. But being a reasonable adult, I can live with it. :D

The best part about mispronunciations and accents is that it teaches you how other people speak, so that if one day you do meet someone who does not share your mother tongue, you might still be able to understand them :shock: I can't think of a good example right now, but there are some French-originating words in English that I had no clue how to pronounce... I do now.

(takes admin hat back on).
Nadine

Les enfants du capitaine Grant

Live in a death + 70 country? Have a look at Legamus

Alatariel
Posts: 18
Joined: December 25th, 2011, 7:39 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Post by Alatariel » June 10th, 2012, 9:21 am

neckertb wrote:
Alatariel wrote:Foreign names and loan words, on the other hand, really don't bother me if they're not pronounced perfectly "authentically". I knew someone in undergrad who used to berate people for saying things like "SAHR-truh" (with English R sounds instead of French ones). That's kind of an over-the-top complaint (and I'm glad nobody has raised it here).
(Takes admin hat off, really tired of people complaining again about this issue. I realize new people might not know this, but it has been raised a thousand times before, and we still have not changed our minds).
By "here" I meant "in this thread". And I should make it clear that my post is informed by language politics in the US, and other things that aren't universally true.

neckertb
Posts: 12806
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:47 am
Location: French in Denmark

Post by neckertb » June 10th, 2012, 9:51 am

Sorry, that part of my reply was not meant at you, but at the general issue raised in this thread. I completely understand that you were just offering thought for discussion, not trolling :D
Like I said I do wince at how people can pronounce some names :wink: I think everyone does once in a while.
It's just a question of accepting it.
Nadine

Les enfants du capitaine Grant

Live in a death + 70 country? Have a look at Legamus

bobgon55
Posts: 928
Joined: May 24th, 2011, 8:30 am
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
Contact:

Post by bobgon55 » June 11th, 2012, 3:43 pm

This is a very eye-opening (or ear-opening) discussion. And even though it has been raised in the past, it is the first time I have heard the argument (and I mean the rhetorical argument, not implying that this is a fight) play out in such an interesting fashion.

For years I had been saying that the British way of saying the metal aluminum (as we in the US spell and pronounce it) as aluminium was just plain wrong. Inspired by this discussion here, I decided to do a little research and found (only one listing PAST Wikipedia) this page in World Wide Words. I found this article fascinating, and when Noah Webster's name was raised, I realized that the US pronunciation and spelling - aluminum - probably had much to do with Webster's agenda to deliberately differentiate US pronunciations from British, furthering the cause of Independence, I suppose. (Tangent: spelling is to writing what pronunciation is to speaking.

I have a problem (In life, not at LV) with listening to people say, for bestial, BEE-stial rather than BES-tial. Dictionary.com gives both pronunciations as correct but my American Heritage dictionary only mentions variation on the final two syllables. I once corrected a student - an honor student, I might add - but she defiantly continued to pronounce the word as BEE-stial. She had obviously heard it that way all her life and my way sounded glaringly, blaringly incorrect. I still think BEST-ial is correct and BEE-stial is not. Call me stubborn.

I have Laurence Olivier on a recording of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde pronouncing one of the title characters as Doctor JEE-kil, a notably singular pronunciation. I had NEVER heard it pronounced that way before or since. All our LivriVox recordings - by David Barnes, Kristin Hughes, and Bob Neufeld - pronounce the name like I've always otherwise heard it - JEK-il. So there you have it: a professional that pronounces the name in at least an idiosyncratic, if not just plain wrong, manner.

One thing about pronunciation worth noting is that natives of particular regions use pronunciation to immediately determine if someone is a stranger or not. Case in point: the little town where my parents spend most of the year - Cashiers, North Carolina, USA. Natives pronounce the name of their town as CASH-ers, while non-natives will pronounce it the same as the retail employee to whom you give your money - cash-EE-ers. If you pronounce it as the latter, they know at once that you're not "from around here."

Although some of this is ear-opening, I still don't agree that people can choose to pronounce words any way they want and still be correct. I think there are words whose pronunciations differ because of accent - such as schedule: [sheh-dyool] and [skeh-dule] - or allowable variation -- such as often: [off-ten and offen], but that there are certain pronunciations that are just plain wrong, like GREE-vee-us and mis CHEE-vee-us. I have now crossed aluminium off my "just plain wrong" list, but I will never stop correcting people, especially students, who do NOT pronounce these words GREE-vus and MIS-cheh-vus.

Has anyone ever seen the television special, Stephen Fry in America? There is a scene in North Carolina, I believe, where the natives are teaching him the song, She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain. Fry pronounces the "t" in "mountain" and the NC natives correct him. "It's not 'mounTin,' they chide, it's 'moun?in!' You people from England talk funny." [The question mark is the closest approximation on this keyboard for the IPA symbol for a glottal stop - kind of an "uh" sound.] There were smiles all around at the cultural teasing. (By the way, I'm aware that the British use quotation marks in the opposite way we do in the States, with single quotation marks used where we use double quotation marks and vice versa.)

I think the issue of generally correct pronunciation is a worthy topic to continue discussing and I think it commendable that people care about how they pronounce words, doing their best by looking them up or asking for help when they are not sure. It's nice to see the helpful pronunciation entries in the LibriVox wiki. My students usually don't take the trouble to look up even words they have never seen before (one student barreled through Shakespeare's sonnet 18 totally clueless about what any of it meant). That's just lazy and careless (as in not caring). I think one of the reasons LibriVox has succeeded, along with the friendly and supportive community with no unsolicited criticism allowed, is the the recordings have improved over the years. I think the members who have higher standards of quality control for themselves than LibriVox actually requires serve to "raise the bar" and serve as examples worthy of emulation for the dedicated novices that genuinely wish to improve. It is also good for listeners to give readers at least the benefit of the doubt when it comes to words that seem frightfully mispronounced, as the examples of Don Juan and aluminium (now see, the spell checker in this software has identified aluminium as misspelled) illustrate.

Bob
Bob Gonzalez
Rhapsodize
A Classic Poetry Performance Initiative
My LibriVox Recordings

ExEmGe
Posts: 1624
Joined: February 7th, 2006, 9:26 am
Location: Tring U.K.
Contact:

Post by ExEmGe » June 12th, 2012, 2:00 am

bobgon55 wrote:I have Laurence Olivier on a recording of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde pronouncing one of the title characters as Doctor JEE-kil
Well for one thing The good doctor's name is normally spelled 'Jekyll' and for another see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Jekyll (in particular the comment in 'Early Life')

Personally I don't think that there is (or can be) a 'correct' pronunciation of a name. It just depends on what you are used to.
I know some people insist on their own personal names being pronounced in a particular way but even then It is really only 'prefered' not 'correct'

Is 'Ralph', by the way, 'Rafe' or Ralf'

Keep up the good work though Bob. Let's have a poscast on it :D
Regards
Andy Minter

bobgon55
Posts: 928
Joined: May 24th, 2011, 8:30 am
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
Contact:

Post by bobgon55 » June 12th, 2012, 2:33 am

Thanks, Andy. I think that's a great idea. Maybe you can contribute a segment.

I think there is some latitude, but not absolute latitude in pronunciations, but I would say that proper names may have more latitude than other words. Mine certainly can be pronounced several ways and I can recognize it and not even be offended. I do get annoyed however with Latins who Anglicize their names to much. For example, the correct pronunciation of this name is PE-rez and some people I know who have that name pronounce it Pe-REZ. It's a compromise and it annoys me because it is no more difficult to pronounce it properly. I would have to correct someone if they did something similar to my name and called me Gon-za-LEZ. I am a stickler for pronouncing people's names the way they want it pronounced, though. I ask all my students for help if their names are difficult and some are hard to get and some students will insist on their names being pronounced exactly the way they want them.

Thanks for the link to the JEE-kil pronunciation. I wonder why the other way is so very popular that the Olivier one jarred my ear so?

Really, I think a podcast on pronunciation would be great, especially since it is easier to demonstrate with audio than writing. Do think of something to contribute, won't you.

By the way, I'm having fun with the role you created for the LibriVox catalog, except instead of Donald Wolfit, my model is Olivier. I thought his 1984 television version was superb all around - the entire cast.

Cheers,
Bob
Bob Gonzalez
Rhapsodize
A Classic Poetry Performance Initiative
My LibriVox Recordings

Lilith1966
Posts: 209
Joined: April 30th, 2012, 7:32 pm
Location: Kelowna, BC, Canada

Post by Lilith1966 » June 21st, 2012, 12:16 pm

Just my two cents :)
I tend to read a lot of British works and I try to use the correct British pronunciation, because, well, it just makes sense really. It is the same with a German or French phrase, I try to get it right. I don't know, maybe I'm too picky but I do it because I appreciate hearing correct pronunciation from other readers....but the fact that people are giving of their time is wonderful and we all have to do what is right for us. I also think people read for different reasons-I love words and put them up on a pedestal, and other people just want to here a story. That really is the main part, the story.
Read on people, read on :D
Tara

Lilith1966
Posts: 209
Joined: April 30th, 2012, 7:32 pm
Location: Kelowna, BC, Canada

Post by Lilith1966 » June 21st, 2012, 12:20 pm

Ha ha, I knew I'd make a mistake with all this talk of proper this and that....should have been "hear" a story....geeesh! I'll shut up about getting things perfect now... :roll:

Jack Daniel
Posts: 12
Joined: January 3rd, 2009, 10:33 am

Post by Jack Daniel » June 21st, 2012, 12:48 pm

English isn't my first language, and learning from varied sources, I'm aware that my accent and pronunciation change according to where or who I learn certain word or phrase from. Still, I'd like to speak clearly without misguiding future listeners to mis-pronunce words, so please correct me.

On other hand, accent is part of who we are and where we're from.
I'm allergic to beer.

JohanLiebert
Posts: 1645
Joined: February 15th, 2012, 1:27 am
Location: Cavite, Philippines
Contact:

Post by JohanLiebert » June 21st, 2012, 3:25 pm

Jack Daniel wrote:English isn't my first language, and learning from varied sources, I'm aware that my accent and pronunciation change according to where or who I learn certain word or phrase from. Still, I'd like to speak clearly without misguiding future listeners to mis-pronunce words, so please correct me.

On other hand, accent is part of who we are and where we're from.
Correct. But some people are so.... shall we say, not open to some other speech variation (read: accent).
April Gonzales :D
blog

Marie Antoinette & the Downfall of Royalty

I will not be around the forums for quite a time but I'll log-in whenever there's time. Please PM me if you need to talk with me. Thanks!

Animo La Salle!

Lilith1966
Posts: 209
Joined: April 30th, 2012, 7:32 pm
Location: Kelowna, BC, Canada

Post by Lilith1966 » June 22nd, 2012, 2:48 pm

Against my better judgement, I'm going to play devils advocate here.....I think pronunciation and accent are two separate things. I love the sound of different accents. The issue here is not an intolerance of accents, but the fact that a reader will be heard by many listeners some of which will struggle with understanding the words. However, people are volunteering and this endeavour is all about access to written material, not a verbal competition, but a person can still prefer clarity on a personal basis. My personal opinion is really not important, but we all like to express ourselves.
With respect
Tara

bobgon55
Posts: 928
Joined: May 24th, 2011, 8:30 am
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
Contact:

Post by bobgon55 » June 22nd, 2012, 3:42 pm

Another thing to consider is that from the beginning, Hugh has emphasized that LibriVox takes care if its readers first and listeners second. What is foremost of concern is attracting readers and to do that LV must always be a welcoming site, and for that to happen, LV accepts the wide diversity of accents and is not a stickler for this or that fashion or variant of pronunciation. When we have discussed the issue of accents before, many savvy volunteers have mentioned that the intelligibility of the accent depends on the listener as much as the reader. It becomes quite a subjective matter. If you are used to watching lots of Masterpiece theatre, you will have no problem understanding British accents. If you are not used to hearing a particular accent, your brain has not had time to learn to understand it. Keep listening to an accent that at first seems undecipherable and you will usually find that you will understand more and more.

LibriVox is a treasure trove of the most diverse and interesting accents and languages assembled in one site. Not that this is the point, but it is a delightful side benefit of LV. If one accepts all the styles and pronunciations and accents of the readers for what they are and does not expect them to be what they are not, all the recordings on LV are marvelous. Especially as examples of real people from all around the world pursuing a delightful and culturally enhancing hobby - reading aloud classic and obscure books.

We do this for the fun of it. We certainly spend enough time trying to make the best recording we can. We donate our work into the public domain for free. If listeners have a problem with any recording, they can stop listening or record their own version for the catalog. Or go buy and expensive commercial version and see if the reader is any better there. Sometimes, the reader is not better than an LV reader.

It is good for us all to express our opinions as long as they don't come down harshly on the readings of others.

Bob
Bob Gonzalez
Rhapsodize
A Classic Poetry Performance Initiative
My LibriVox Recordings

Post Reply