Am I allowed to constructively critique a reader?

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khindall
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Post by khindall »

Hello, all

I am listening to a recently recorded Librivox book. The reader is very good at reading . . . except for pronunciation. From their accent, they are a native speaker of American English (I'd guess the Northeastern or Midwestern, but they could be from the Pacific Coast), but clearly they are not up on latinate, francophone, or proper nouns in twentieth-century American English.

Yes, I am up on it. Most of my life has been about American English. I was a proofreader and copy editor for nearly twenty years, and of course I was in constant conversation with others in the field. Also, I know that if I'm uncertain, Merriam-Webster's online has a feature for actually speaking words, including names.

I don't want to give further specifics here. The last thing I want is to embarrass this reader. If they're willing to look up a lot of words for a while, they'll be a stellar reader! Not sounding like you are reading aloud but just telling a story is the rarest quality, I find, and as far as I can tell, you either can do it or you can't. This reader has everything but pronunciation going for them, and I don't want to scare them out of continuing.

Is there any way to directly contact the reader with this information?

Thank you.
redrun
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Post by redrun »

Thank you for not going into specifics on the reader in question, and for asking before seeking them out!

In general, we want readers to feel welcome to join us as beginners, and to read about topics and places they might not know much about. Everyone improves with time, and some readers can and do ask for extra tips or look up words for themselves, but we make a point of not pressing the issue. :wink:

You can find our official policies on contacting readers ("Thank You"-s), and on Proof Listening here, with more detail:
https://wiki.librivox.org/index.php/Thank_You
https://wiki.librivox.org/index.php?title=Guide_for_Proof-listeners#Levels_of_Proof-listening

In short, we don't give this type of feedback unless it's specifically requested:
A) by the Book Coordinator, who should set a higher level than "Standard" Proof-Listening, so readers know to expect it
B) by the readers themselves, who can request "Constructive Criticism" from the Proof Listener when they upload their files
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mightyfelix
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Post by mightyfelix »

If you happen to be proof listening for this reader, AND they specifically ask for notes on pronunciation, then you may mention it to them. Otherwise, it would be a blatant violation of our "no unasked-for criticism" rule: https://wiki.librivox.org/index.php?title=Forum_Policies#No_Unasked-For_Criticism
SowasVon
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Post by SowasVon »

mightyfelix wrote: February 11th, 2024, 12:28 am If you happen to be proof listening for this reader, AND they specifically ask for notes on pronunciation, then you may mention it to them. Otherwise, it would be a blatant violation of our "no unasked-for criticism" rule: https://wiki.librivox.org/index.php?title=Forum_Policies#No_Unasked-For_Criticism
In that text, it says negative criticism isn't allowed, but general criticism is. What would count as general criticism?
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Post by TriciaG »

SowasVon wrote: February 11th, 2024, 5:07 am
mightyfelix wrote: February 11th, 2024, 12:28 am If you happen to be proof listening for this reader, AND they specifically ask for notes on pronunciation, then you may mention it to them. Otherwise, it would be a blatant violation of our "no unasked-for criticism" rule: https://wiki.librivox.org/index.php?title=Forum_Policies#No_Unasked-For_Criticism
In that text, it says negative criticism isn't allowed, but general criticism is. What would count as general criticism?
Criticism about LV as a whole: availability of works, how things are run, even the very general quality of readers. But not criticism about a specific book or reader, or identifiable subset of readers.
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khindall
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Post by khindall »

redrun wrote: February 10th, 2024, 12:12 pm In short, we don't give this type of feedback unless it's specifically requested:
[Sigh. . . .] Okay. . . .

It's just very hard for me. Keeping American English a communication medium rather than only an expressive medium has sort of been my life's work, and I feel like I have lost and am still losing every encounter.

I am not saying take the expressive quality out of language; that can be a method of communication, too. Language is, however, our most exact method of communication, inexact as it is. If we don't hold onto some of the rules, we'll all be expressing ourselves all over the place and communicating not at all.

Please, readers, make sure you know how to pronounce the words. Look up all of the ones you aren't entirely sure of and occasionally even those you think you know. I would also advise looking up all of the proper nouns, just to be sure. I've heard place names that I would have thought impossible to mispronounce by any reader conversant in basic written English turned into something very different. Sometimes I have had to go over to Project Gutenberg to find out what place the author had written, although only the complex ones, of course. (I can understand why I don't think I've ever heard "Schenectady" pronounced correctly on Librivox. I am not sure I would know how pronounce it correctly if I didn't live within 200 miles of it.)

And keep in mind that a lot of place names are altered when they are given to places outside of their original language group. For instance, Versailles and Lima, both cities in Ohio, are not pronounced by their inhabitants in the same way the places for which they were named are pronounced by theirs. I am sure there are examples in Canada, Australia, and other places as well. (Growing up in Ohio, I had to learn how to pronounce the name of the French palace and the Peruvian city. It was very embarrassing with Versailles. . . .)

Thank you.
annise
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Post by annise »

As an outsider there seem to me to be regional variations in the USA as well with quite basic words so isn't it possible that the writer of the book came from the same place as the reader and a different place than the listener?
And who decides which way is correct? I had an American grandfather and some of his speech came to me via my mother, and I was critised by a teacher for using an "American expression".
However since that time TV USA exposure has meant that it has become acceptable.

Anne
TriciaG
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Post by TriciaG »

There's a tension between the reader and the listener. The reader wants to record PD audiobooks, even if they're not professional-quality readers; the listener wants a great listening experience.

I must admit, there are some readers that drive me crazy with their incorrect pronunciations! (And these are words that aren't regional; they just pronounce them wrong, period.)

But we're reader-centric, which means that we don't want to criticize readers such that they're discouraged from recording. We welcome readers to make PD audiobooks, regardless of their level of ability. As long as they're understandable, they can record for us.

So yeah, that tension between reader and listener exists, and since its inception, LV has decided to go on the side of the reader.
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lightcrystal
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Post by lightcrystal »

Also bear in mind when someone learned a certain word. In my solo Christian Astrology I am saying "Libra" throughout saying the i like in "tin". I was exposed to it being said like that in the 1980s; astrologers said that then. Very few people say it like that now; everyone says "leebra". I can't help my background :lol:
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Peter Why
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Post by Peter Why »

And when my "Life in a medieval city" was posted on youtube, here's part of one of the comment strings:
gaiuscaligula2229
4 years ago
You can tell the narrator doesn't know York. "Boot-ham-Bar" is pronounced "Boo-tham-Bar".. The L is silent in "Peasholme Green"

@scarlet8078
4 years ago
Good to know. Most listeners are probably Americans and we can't hear the difference. We just want all our audiobooks to be read by BBC-sounding voices. Or Jeremy Irons. That posh, slightly dour and gravely voice is how all Brits should sound. I mean, America loves Jeremy Irons so much that he was our villain in the Lion King, our Borgia pope and we gave him the Best Actor for Claus Von Bulow

@stevenmason8993
4 years ago
Sorry, but it wasn't pronounced Boo-tham-Bar in Medieval times. Maybey you should read up on Medieval accents. Your thinking modern accents .
How on earth could I, as a reader, get it "right"? Incidentally, how could a reader of a book find out (or even think of the possibility) that there was a particular Ohio pronunciation of Versailles and Lima?

Peter
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InTheDesert
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Post by InTheDesert »

I think the comment under this project really takes the cake when it comes to 'hard to please'.
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SowasVon
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Post by SowasVon »

InTheDesert wrote: February 12th, 2024, 1:17 am I think the comment under this project really takes the cake when it comes to 'hard to please'.
Nice find!!! :lol:
"You're on Librivox? Pffft. You just like to hear yourself talk."
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khindall
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Post by khindall »

annise wrote: February 11th, 2024, 2:55 pm As an outsider there seem to me to be regional variations in the USA as well with quite basic words so isn't it possible that the writer of the book came from the same place as the reader and a different place than the listener?
No. I am a native speaker of American English and a former professional. I would recognize if the person was speaking a different American dialect. Besides, American place names are not pronounced differently by Americans—at least not that differently. The stress was wrong, in addition to the sounds. Also, I would not be offended if someone mispronounced the place names after the fashion of the more well-known namesake; for instance, Versailles the palace rather than Versailles, Ohio.

And there IS a standard: For American English, Merriam-Webster, which gives pronunciations. For UK English, OED. That includes proper nouns, although it often doesn't have the pronunciations for the more obscure locations (for instance, again, Versailles, Ohio, is not listed).

I have at no time specified the person or the project. All I ask is that readers take a little effort to get more of the words pronounced correctly (yes, correctly, there are correct pronunciations just as there are correct spellings!) so that their meaning is clear and doesn't cause the "Huh?" reaction so often that it makes it impossible to listen to a reader. In this particular case, this was the reader's only flaw, and I said so.

Since I first started this thread, I have found two readers whom I simply had to turn off. I would not endeavor to say anything to them; even if it was allowed, there was too much they would need to do.

Expecting some pride in craftmanship is not a crime, despite the get-it-done-now-for-the-least-cost attitude that has developed in the last forty years. . . .

I promise never to express an opinion again.
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