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Accents vs. Mispronunciation

Posted: September 16th, 2009, 5:24 am
by Culbertson
I loved the discussion here about accents, and find that I have far fewer problems with accents than I do with mispronunciations by folks for whom English is their first language. One recent book (which shall remain unnamed) was so heavily laden with mispronounced words that I simply gave it up in disgust -- leading me to question how the reader could read it that way and how the proof-listener could let all those terribly mangled words get by.

I'd be interested to know if anyone else has thoughts on this?

Posted: September 16th, 2009, 5:46 am
by RuthieG
Do I dare post this?


This comes up all the time. You will get several different sorts of answers:

1. Different people pronounce words in different ways.

2. We're all volunteers and we are doing our best.

3. You should just laugh it off, ignore it, not listen to those recordings, or record the perfect version yourself.

This is answer 4: I agree with you entirely. There are excellent free online dictionaries that give IPA pronunciations and even audio pronunciations. I always have the OED open while I am recording and rarely get through a chapter without checking something. (Yes, I am lucky that my County Library subscribes to the OED, but there are many other free ones available.)

Of course, the reader does have to know that he/she doesn't know how to pronounce a word, in the first place...

Regarding proof-listening, standard proof-listening does not include pronunciation. You may think it should... I can only refer you to Francis Urquhart's oft-quoted phrase. :lol:


Posted: September 16th, 2009, 6:10 am
by Culbertson
Ah...Francis Urquhart. Now, THERE was a character. Thanks for the reply, Ruth. Good points, all of them.

Posted: September 16th, 2009, 6:36 pm
by annise

One of the big problems is that you are both believing that there is a "correct" way to pronounce words - an interesting theory in itself :D . Living where I do I see the language evolving - not in a way I like particularly but nobody ever asked me :D .I suspect that most under 30's would say skedule not shedule and clerk not clark just as an example. They watch too much US TV :evil:

And most people in my state say castle (unless you went to a posh school) whereas in the adjoining states most say carstle. I suspect the difference is due to the different groups of early settlers

I would agree that I have PLed things in which I am pretty sure nobody would ever say it the way it was said but the difficulty is to know this.

And another problem with asking people to change a word in their recording is that it is often quite difficult for people to change words in a recording and keep the recording smooth, and in some ways the result is just as bad if not worse.

So I think things have to stay as they are. Perfect it is not but think of it as a friend reading you something - you would just feel superior , not pull them up and correct them :D . Though last time I said this someone replied that they always corrected their friends mistakes - but didn't say how many friends they had left.


Posted: September 16th, 2009, 8:04 pm
by momof3Chihuahuas
I suspect that most under 30's would say skedule not shedule and clerk not clark just as an example. They watch too much US TV :evil:
:shock: Yikes! Ducking! :mrgreen:

Btw, the original poster (OP) is from Virginia in the good ol' U.S. of A.! :wink: (If it's supposed to be pronounced "clark," then it appears to be spelled wrong. So does that mean people who have the last name Clark should be called Mr. or Mrs. Clerk? Just kidding! Hee, hee!)

I'm just goofin' off--and oh, I'm way over 30, but, of course, I watch a lot of U.S. TV! *gasp* (Since that's where I live. LOL) I also watch a lot of BBC America.

Btw, OP, as a pro freelance proofreader (mostly retired/diabled now), I have wanted to help people with pronounciation; it's sort of an occupational hazard (but I'm trying to get over it here)---& I have actually mentioned it in a few places (incorrectly, btw--not in the "job description" here), but unless the reader asks, it's really not appropriate. It took me a little time to learn that. It's a touchy subject. As for me, I would DEFINITELY want another person (perhaps an American if the word(s) in question could be pronounced differently elsewhere, although everyone here is so helpful!) to either post or PM me if I'm seriously bungling pronounciations. I'd rather know. Like Ruth, I also have access to dictionaries online; if I'm not sure of a pronounciation, I listen to it. It's a big help!

Edited to add: I REALLY don't want to sound critical of how others read. I'm not! So I've toned down the paragraph above. I think everyone here is awesome to volunteer their time & efforts to make all these wonderful audiobooks available! And an admission on my part: there have been several times that I haven't known how words should be pronounced, especially in older books in the public domain (that often use words that are now archaic or just aren't used often).

Still, LV does give away audiobooks! Enjoy as much as you can!

Joy :9:

I know; I know! I'm over-emoting again--but just for this one post! LOL

Posted: September 16th, 2009, 8:30 pm
by momof3Chihuahuas
Hi, Ruth,

This is probably going to sound really dumb, but what does IPA mean? And what's an OED? Is that a British type of online dictionary or something similar? I don't always know what some initials around here stand for. But I'm still learning! :wink:

Joy :D

Posted: September 16th, 2009, 8:46 pm
by knotyouraveragejo
OED = Oxford English Dictionary

IPA = International Phonetic Alphabet

Posted: September 16th, 2009, 9:06 pm
by momof3Chihuahuas
I was right! It was a stupid question! At least the OED part. Duh!! And I call myself a proofreader! *hanging my head in shame* LOL :wink: I have an excuse---the publishers I've worked for typically use Merriam Webster's Collegiate or Unabridged dictionaries.

I'll Google the IPA. I think I've seen examples online. I'd still rather literally hear pronounciations, though (but, yeah, that could differ from country to country for many words).

Thanks a lot, Jo! :D


Posted: September 17th, 2009, 3:46 am
by Starlite
I use this plugin for firefox.

It will pronounce most words on a fire fox web page.

Esther :D

Posted: September 17th, 2009, 11:09 am
by ExEmGe
knotyouraveragejo wrote:IPA = International Phonetic Alphabet
Sorry - Quite wrong.

IPA = India Pale Ale

Posted: September 17th, 2009, 4:14 pm
by momof3Chihuahuas
I updated my post above because I think I'm scaring away people who might have let me PL for them. *sigh* Rats. :( I have such a big mouth! :oops: Bummer.

I'm really not nearly as critical as that post made me sound. I'm pretty good at standard PL'ing (unless something sounds funny, like a repeat or sounds like text is missing, or fits the prescribed standard PL'ing errors list). After all, when I record, I don't want someone pointing out each tiny thing, unless I ask for word-perfect PL'ing (& I might if I do a solo).

So I apologize if I sounded too critical. Sorry!

Posted: September 17th, 2009, 5:08 pm
by knotyouraveragejo
ExEmGe wrote:
knotyouraveragejo wrote:IPA = International Phonetic Alphabet
Sorry - Quite wrong.

IPA = India Pale Ale
I suspect that might have the opposite effect on pronunciation, however! :lol:

Posted: September 17th, 2009, 5:46 pm
by BellonaTimes
annise wrote:....I suspect that most under 30's would say skedule not shedule and clerk not clark just as an example. They watch too much US TV :evil: ...

Bear in mind that in Florida at least, those TV shows are occasionally punctuated by commercials for Outback Steakhouse, ;)
The Outback Steakhouse has a strong "Australian" outback theme, exemplified by Boomerangs, stuffed crocodiles, maps of Australia, a reproduction of Ned Kelly's helmet, whips, didgeridoos, and paintings by Aboriginal artists.
Pan-culturalism anyone?

Posted: September 20th, 2009, 9:01 am
by beeber
I agree with Ruth's suggestion that we could probably be a bit more demanding.

When I'm preparing a passage, I always have up on the computer so that I can hear "authorized" pronunciations when I come to a word that I'm uncertain about. Being Canadian, I'm often caught in the no-man's-land between American and British pronunciations. I'm always having to double-check words like "process" and "project" (long o or short o?), in addition to words that I know I don't know.

But, of course, the real problem is what happens when I don't know that I'm wrong, and that's when the proof-listener could do me a service, because, after all, I do want the reading to be something I can be proud of. (Yes, it can be difficult to fix just one word, as Anne points out: you have to be prepared to re-record a whole sentence to get the intonation right.)

I also do volunteer readings for VoicePrint Canada (a service that broadcasts readings of newspapers and magazines for the visually impaired). Interestingly, volunteers for VoicePrint have to pass an audition, which includes proving that you can read a page of tricky English vocabulary and international names in the news. Then, when we're recording, there's a producer who will stop us if we mispronounce.

Now, I realize that that model isn't exactly applicable to LibriVox, because VoicePrint has funding (from the government and from charitable donations) to pay for the infrastructure of recording studios and paid producers. However, my point is that there's an example of an organization that depends on volunteer readers, and isn't squeamish about expecting "correct" pronunciation. (Totally aside from the question of accents or dialects, of course.) Yes, they know they have to be appreciative of their volunteers, but they also know that none of us wants to go public with a reading that's just plain wrong.


Posted: January 5th, 2010, 9:31 pm
by johnell
Hey, if I bungle a word I certainly hope the PLer will point it out to me!