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Post Posted:: March 20th, 2011, 1:56 pm 

Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:47 am
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Location: French in Denmark
The offerings in other languages are few beacuse we are not enough non-native speakers, it's as simple as that! If I had more French speakers around, I'd have more projects in French too!
Do point your friends to LV!

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Post Posted:: March 20th, 2011, 2:39 pm 
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earlofwess wrote:
BellonaTimes wrote:
The thread-starter reminds me of the librarian in Sophie's Choice who is so nasty to Sophie's innocent and lovely request for a collection of works by 'great American poet Emil Dickens'. The librarian is a malicious quisling who most certainly knows that this earnest Polish immigrant wants a book by Emily Dickinson but has lost sight of what a library is really about, namely a place for people who love books.


I'm surprised at this response to what was a very gentle and constructive criticism. Since the original poster was neither "nasty," nor "malicious," nor a "quisling," nor has he forgotten that this is a place for those who love books (he is concerned that the books by enjoyed by those for whom they are recorded - the listeners), I don't see the parallel. He wants non-native speakers to participate and even made extensive suggestions on how to improve their reading, specifically for their own benefit as well as for the readers.

I would personally like to see non-native English speakers reading more in their mother tongues. Not because I don't want them to read in English, but because I have many friends who are not English speakers that I would like to point to Librivox, but the offerings in their own languages are so few that it isn't worth it.


The really big problem with these sort of posts is that reading books for Librivox is not an easy ask , most readers worry that they are not good enough, people won't like the way they read ...... etc
Every time someone posts some comment about "non native speakers" every "non native speaker" worries that maybe they should not be doing it, that they might be saying a word wrongly, that people might not understand them. And we lose a reader or a potential reader :cry:.
It is easy when you hear a word said differently than the way you would say to say it's a non native speaker, what do you say when it is an "English " speaker? There are plenty of words in books read by Canadians that to my ears are not said correctly - but I don't post that Canadians should only read books written in Canadian.

Anne

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Post Posted:: March 21st, 2011, 7:29 am 

Joined: May 14th, 2010, 5:33 am
Posts: 1524
Location: Southeastern USA
I think we all have to remember that we are all complete volunteers and do this for the love of it. Recording old public domain texts, the downloads of which are free.

There are professionally done audiobooks available if someone wants something that is professionally done.

This is a labor of love!

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Post Posted:: March 22nd, 2011, 2:31 pm 

Joined: March 20th, 2011, 12:35 am
Posts: 16
The reason I originally posted on this thread is because I felt like the original poster was not being given a fair hearing. Clearly, people have posted on this topic before and so to you long-time members, this is part of a long-running discussion. From these posts I would guess that there have been some harsh and unloving things said about the quality of the recordings, etc.

However, for the original poster (and myself), this is a new discussion. It feels like few of you are actually reading these posts, but are instead scanning them and simply responding with their general opinion on the subject.

The original reader made a suggestion about non-native speakers, which was not accepted. That's fine. Librivox is comfortable with the system they have. I, personally, like Librivox and the ethos it has developed.

However, he went on to offer advice on how to improve pronunciation. He did this, not as a mean person, but as a teacher of English as a foreign language. He obviously isn't some jingoistic xenophobe - he works with non-native English speakers. I see that he should have started a new thread, titled it "tips that prooflisteners can give to improve pronunciation." Perhaps then it wouldn't have produced the rather negative response it did.

I am offended that someone unfairly insulted the original poster (someone on the "nice" side) and no one seems to mind.

Ps. I'm not a xenophobe either - I'm married to a woman of a different nationality, reside in a non-English speaking country and am bi-lingual.


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Post Posted:: March 22nd, 2011, 2:44 pm 

Joined: January 21st, 2009, 12:33 pm
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earlofwess wrote:
I am offended that someone unfairly insulted the original poster (someone on the "nice" side) and no one seems to mind.


Well, frankly I was kind of offended that the original poster insulted many of our readers by explicitly saying that their feelings were less important than "the quality and integrity of the Librivox project." I didn't see anyone call him a xenophobe, although I did see a lot of people gently and patiently explain that he was mistaken about the function and purpose of Librivox, and identify the reasons why we don't consider accented readings to be a problem.

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Post Posted:: March 22nd, 2011, 2:55 pm 
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Quote:
I am offended that someone unfairly insulted the original poster (someone on the "nice" side) and no one seems to mind.

Honestly, I didn't like the tone of BT's post and thought it was over the top. I just chose not to post that...until now. :roll:

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Post Posted:: March 22nd, 2011, 11:30 pm 

Joined: March 20th, 2011, 12:35 am
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wildemoose wrote:
earlofwess wrote:
I am offended that someone unfairly insulted the original poster (someone on the "nice" side) and no one seems to mind.


Well, frankly I was kind of offended that the original poster insulted many of our readers by explicitly saying that their feelings were less important than "the quality and integrity of the Librivox project." I didn't see anyone call him a xenophobe, although I did see a lot of people gently and patiently explain that he was mistaken about the function and purpose of Librivox, and identify the reasons why we don't consider accented readings to be a problem.


All right, fair enough. Thank you for your reply.


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Post Posted:: March 22nd, 2011, 11:35 pm 

Joined: March 20th, 2011, 12:35 am
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TriciaG wrote:
Quote:
I am offended that someone unfairly insulted the original poster (someone on the "nice" side) and no one seems to mind.

Honestly, I didn't like the tone of BT's post and thought it was over the top. I just chose not to post that...until now. :roll:


Thanks. "Over the top" is a good description. I don't intend to vilify the "over the top" poster either. I appreciate all of your replies. I realize that I am, on some level, taking this thread WAY too seriously.


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Post Posted:: March 23rd, 2011, 7:43 pm 

Joined: January 1st, 2007, 10:28 pm
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Location: Orlando, Florida
I agree with Delysid. I have enjoyed many readings by non-native speakers. The ones I don’t enjoy are when a speaker is so unfamiliar with English that their pronunciation is unintelligible to a native speaker. I have read others' comments about not understanding English speakers from different regions, but I haven't found a native speaker yet that I haven't been able to understand. When speakers lapse into strong local dialects, that's one thing, but we aren't dealing with that here.

The fact that other non-native speakers sometimes understand other non-native speakers better than native speakers is because, I imagine, they are not as fluent at listening as native speakers. They will find it easier to understand someone who slows down their speech, and non-native speakers cannot always distinguish between English phonemes. For example, the English phoneme / ð/ (as in the word “there”) does not occur in many languages, and speakers of French and German, for example, often have not only difficulty producing the sound, but also distinguishing it from /d/ or /z/. Therefore, they would not be as likely to hear the error. For those trying to improve their listening fluency, listening to a non-native who cannot produce English phonemes is not doing them a lot of good.

For English speakers, it would be the same if I were to try to record in Serbo-Croatian. A Spanish speaker (with Serbo-Croatian as a foreign language) would probably understand me better than a Croat, because although Serbo-Croatian has more than one voiceless alveolar affricate (like the “ch” sound in English), I can only produce one of these sounds. Spanish also has only one of these voiceless affricates, therefore a Spaniard learning Serbo-Croat would not find my mispronunciation a problem. Native Serb speakers though would hear the error, and using one affricate in place of another can change the meaning of a word.

I just removed a book from my MP3 because the reader was too difficult to understand. The reader could not distinguish between the following phonemes: /f/ and /v/, /tʃ/ and dʒ/, /s/ and /θ/ (these are IPA symbols). In initial position the reader could not distinguish between voice and unvoiced stops, for example, saying “touring“ for “during,” or “picker“ for “bicker.” This is important, because the interchanging of these phonemes can change the meaning of words. Not always, for example, I know that “willage” is meant to be “village,“ but sometimes meanings are not clear. I as a native listener can figure out which word this speaker meant, especially since I speak their native language and am familiar with its sound patterns, but it is a strain and not always easy to do.

As far as this goes -

Guero wrote:
We have several standards, one of which is that each recording must be understandable. If a proof listener finds a recording understandable, that's good enough for us. Proofreaders do not just say "PL OK" on recordings that they can't understand.


Well, sometimes they might. I have PL’d recordings in other languages over the past several years, and I have come across guidance to proof listeners stating that the listener need not understand the language to proof, only to listen for repeats, lengthy pauses and the such. I’ve never seen this guidance for an English recording, but nevertheless, the standards are not necessarily always met.

In the big picture, I don’t think this is that important, and I love Librivox and will continue to be a loud spokesperson in support of it. However, I am disappointed to hear Guero say, “no matter how much you try to convince us that there is a problem, we are not going to agree.”

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Post Posted:: March 23rd, 2011, 9:12 pm 
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Margaret wrote:
I have come across guidance to proof listeners stating that the listener need not understand the language to proof, only to listen for repeats, lengthy pauses and the such.

This happens only with recordings for which a PL'er who understands the language cannot be found. In those cases, after a Listeners Wanted ad fails to turn up a volunteer after a length of time, we have someone check the technical specifications and listen through for obvious uploading or editing glitches, rather than let the reader's work sit uncataloged indefinitely.

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Post Posted:: March 23rd, 2011, 11:15 pm 
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Margaret wrote:
However, I am disappointed to hear Guero say, “no matter how much you try to convince us that there is a problem, we are not going to agree.”


I think we all were disappointed some day to find 1 or 2 chapters in the middle of a book that was hard to understand or that we didn't like for some reason. In that way we all agree that there is a problem, for the listeners.

But to cure that problem would do damage to our mission.
A recordings is not hard to understand, when there are only some words mispronounced. It becomes hard to understand when many sounds are slightly changed. And this is really hard to address by the PL or BC. We would all have grey hair by now if we tried to.

It is almost impossible to give constructive criticism that doesn't hurt the reader in such a case. The reader would disappear immediately. No harm done, some will say. But when the reader stays, he improves with practice. There might be 3 or 5 "bad" recordings, but with a little luck the reader will produce 10 or 20 "good" recordings if we don't make him turn on his heals. We want them to stay around and improve.

Now if we had a forum full of CC, many readers who could do perfectly understandable recordings wouldn't even try, for fear of a long list of mistakes. Again readers lost.

On the long run, it's better for Librivox to have some "bad" recordings and many many "good" recordings, than only a few "good" recordings.
So yes, there is a problem but the cure would be an even bigger problem.

Note: "good" and "bad" only in the ears of one listener, can be completely different with another listener.

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Post Posted:: March 24th, 2011, 1:35 am 

Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:47 am
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Location: French in Denmark
About Guero's comment, I actually have to say that I agree with him completely, but that it is a conscious choice. In an ideal word, it would only be native speakers recording in their language, and that would be great. But since we cannot achieve that, I think most of us have made our peace with it. We will never be able to do anything about it, therefore we cannot see it as a problem.

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Post Posted:: March 24th, 2011, 2:45 am 

Joined: March 20th, 2011, 12:35 am
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neckertb wrote:
About Guero's comment, I actually have to say that I agree with him completely, but that it is a conscious choice. In an ideal word, it would only be native speakers recording in their language, and that would be great. But since we cannot achieve that, I think most of us have made our peace with it. We will never be able to do anything about it, therefore we cannot see it as a problem.


Regarding Guero's comment, I was also disappointed to read it, since it sounded like he was insisting that there was NOT a big elephant in the room (recordings in strong regional or foreign accents), when in fact we bump into this elephant in every third work on the site.

However, as I considered his comment, doing my best to understand his intent as the author, I concluded that what he means is that the system Librivox has developed is the best system possible, given its mission, ethos, and culture. This I can agree with. Certainly mutual intelligibility (listener satisfaction) is a problem - but it's only one of three. There are also the problems of reader recruitment and reader satisfaction.

Ps. It's interesting that Margaret mentioned Serbo-Croatian as her example, because that's my foreign language as well.


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Post Posted:: March 24th, 2011, 3:32 am 
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Every third work on the site - really ? I do think you are a bit out in that . Yes there are a very few readers that I find difficult to follow - I just don't pick books to listen to for pleasure that they are reading. A couple of them the problem is partly caused by the amount of background noise and poor quality equipment - they are mainly earlier recordings , Audacity did not have good noise cleaning then.
But these are not all "non native speakers" - if you are using "native speakers" to mean people whose first language is English
But if you are using it to mean people who live in the same country as the listener then they are not Australians.

If the first poster had said that he found some readers hard to follow , I would agree with him. I find some readers hard to follow - but if we each made a list would the same people appear on both ? Almost certainly not. So whose list do we follow ?

I personally think that the standard of most of our recording is very high and speaking only of the English ones , because like most EFL (english as first language) speakers I am mono lingual, the percentage of recordings I can't follow is very low.

So yes I will always do what can be done to improve any problems - but I am proud to be part of something that gives so many people so much enjoyment both in the production and in the listening.

Anne

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Post Posted:: March 24th, 2011, 7:25 am 
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Keep in mind that we allow other readers to make alternate recordings of chapters they find incomprehensible. If you cannot get through ReaderX's rendering, you may provide an alternate voice for posterity. :)

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