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Post Posted:: April 27th, 2007, 11:51 pm 

Joined: February 21st, 2007, 11:23 am
Posts: 2406
Location: Effingham, IL, USA
I'm wondering if there are any good general resources for pronunciation of words. Answers.com and Dictionary.com cover most English words, but it leaves out a lot of proper names, foreign words, and technical jargon. Personally, I like having an audio file of the word pronounced, that way I'm sure I'm doing it right. As a second option, I like literal, phonetic spellings of the words, because I'm not always 100% confident if I look at the IPA style (so for the word pronunciation, it'd be pruh-NUN-see-ay-shun instead of prə-nŭn'sē-ā'shən).

What prompted me to think of this was my attempt at trying to find out how to pronounce recueil, the French word for anthology. Not only does it start with an R, the French version of which is notoriously difficult for English speakers to pronounce, but it also has a triphthong that I couldn't find any pronunciation rules on, AND ends in a letter that is sometimes silent, sometimes not. It was that, and a couple of other French words scattered through the text I was reading, that I couldn't find anywhere. I don't want to run to the LV forums for every single problem, and I figured there had to be a French equivalent of Dictionary.com, with accompanying audio pronunciations for a large number of words, but I searched in vain.

I think if we pooled our collective knowledge, we could probably come up a good list of Internet resources for people who want to pronounce it just right. Unfortunately, there'd probably be a large list of web sites dedicated to specific languages, like Japanese words, French words, medical terms, etc. I know that you can ask on the forums, but I think it'd be useful to put up some links on the LV wiki. Along with that it should have the caveat that you shouldn't worry too much if you can't find a pronunciation, and that pronunciations can vary.

Toward that end, here are a couple of resources I've found useful:

http://shtooka.net/audio-base/

This website has a large, but by no means comprehensive, collection of audio files of Russian, French and Chinese words. The drawback is that you have to download all the files on your computer first.

http://netministries.org/bbasics/bbwords.htm

This website has, as far as I can tell, an audio pronunciation of every cumbersome word found in the Bible, as well as a few other religious words. If you're reading from the Bible, it's a lot easier than listening to a whole chapter of another audio version, and it's also good if, say, you're reading from a non-Biblical text that refers to Jesus' words on the cross ("Eloi Lama Sabechthani") and you have no idea how to pronounce it.

What do you guys think? Is this a worthwhile project?


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Post Posted:: April 28th, 2007, 7:51 am 

Joined: February 25th, 2007, 7:42 am
Posts: 105
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Thanks for sharing those links! I find in my Librivox recordings I always want to be pronouncing things as correctly as possible, and I do use the Answers.com dictionary and listen to their pronunciations when I have questions. One resource I use quite a bit for pronunciations is the NLS website

http://www.loc.gov/nls/other/sayhow.html

It is not always right, but it often has names I cannot find otherwise.

I just found the CMU Pronouncing Dictionary, but haven't used it yet:
http://www.speech.cs.cmu.edu/cgi-bin/cmudict

A good search tip is to try searching (in Google, or wherever) with both word "x" and the word "pronunciation" or "pronounced" or "pronounce" or "rhymes." If I try different permutations of those words with my mystery word I often find a website with the pronunciation broken down.

Good hard copy dictionaries when I can't find something online (not as convenient as a quick search, and they take up space, but sometimes I do get stuck without them) include biographical and geographic dictionaries (the BBC makes a good one for British names), as well as an Oxford for British words. I have a few foreign dictionaries, too (French, Italian, Russian) and I aspire to have a more of these at home. I'm keeping an eye out in used bookstores' reference sections for cheap pronunciation guides and specialized dictionaries.

I hope to see some more online resources, as you said, for foriegn and technical terms!


Last edited by jennette on April 28th, 2007, 8:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post Posted:: April 28th, 2007, 9:09 am 

Joined: June 30th, 2006, 8:42 pm
Posts: 4112
Location: Jersey Shore, N.
There are a few threads along these same lines, with good links in them, particularly of dialects. I or someonelese will try to find them and add them here.


A very helpful thing to do, once a collection of solid info (with links) is available, is to create an LV Wiki page and place it all there. Anyone up for it?

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Post Posted:: April 28th, 2007, 4:53 pm 

Joined: January 3rd, 2006, 8:34 pm
Posts: 5471
Location: Keene NH
LibriVox is a good pronunciation resource, if you're willing to wait the 5 min - 1 day it takes to get a response :) There are so many multiple language speakers on the forum, that you're likely to get help in most of the ones you'd need it for. Just post in the Need Help? section and someone will chime in with a recording.

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Post Posted:: April 28th, 2007, 7:09 pm 

Joined: February 21st, 2007, 11:23 am
Posts: 2406
Location: Effingham, IL, USA
Jeanette:
Thank you for the links! The government site looks especially useful, but I can't seem to figure out how the other one works.

CloudMountain:
I think that would be a great thing to do, once we get enough links together. I'm not 100% sure how to do it, but I'm certainly willing to help out.

Kri:
I know that you can post pronunciation questions to LV users, and I think it's really useful. But I think it would be a good idea, as an Additional resource, to have some links to useful websites in the wiki. The last time I read it, there was nothing on pronunciation that I could see, and that was one of my concerns when I joined LV.


Okay, I sent my query for pronunciation resources to Yahoo Answers and a couple of language forums, so hopefully I'll get some good information back. In the meantime, I found two websites that might be useful:

The first is a pretty big list of first and last names, as well as countries and their capitals, with audio files.
http://www.rong-chang.com/namesdict/index.html

The other is just something that I hadn't thought of: as a last resort, you can use YouTube for just about anything. Type in the word you're trying to pronounce, and you'll likely find a video having Something to do with the word. If, for example, you want to know how to pronounce, "Brihadanyaka Upanishad," an ancient Indian text, you can go to YouTube and find a cartoon taken from a story there that pronounces the name right off the bat. The problem is that it's unreliable; videos go on and off there all the time, and it may be very difficult to find a video that actually pronounces the name. But this can be very good for place names (like a video of someone saying "We're here in Town X") or product names (I don't know how often we'll need that, but you can find a commercial on there that pronounces almost any product name).

Wouldn't it be nice if there was just a place where you could type in any word in any language and get back a commonly accepted pronunciation? Someone oughta do that...

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Post Posted:: April 28th, 2007, 11:28 pm 

Joined: February 21st, 2007, 11:23 am
Posts: 2406
Location: Effingham, IL, USA
LeonMire wrote:
Wouldn't it be nice if there was just a place where you could type in any word in any language and get back a commonly accepted pronunciation? Someone oughta do that...


I think I was speaking with the gift of prophecy a couple of hours ago, because I found a site that does almost that. Here's the link:

http://www.linguatec.net/onlineservices/voice_reader

It's amazing! You just type in any text, select the language, and it gives you the pronunciation! There's German, UK English, US English, French, Canadian French, Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Czech, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese. You can even slow it down to 50% to catch what they're saying. Now, it's computer-generated, so there's going to be some margin of error, especially, as I read, with proper nouns, but even so, the computer voice sounds very real! I'm so impressed that I'm going to post it in a separate forum. But if anybody has anything else to add, go right ahead.

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I remember how, in college, I got that part-time job as a circus clown, and how the children would laugh and laugh at me. I vowed, then and there, that I would get revenge.
-Jack Handey


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Post Posted:: April 29th, 2007, 6:17 am 

Joined: February 25th, 2007, 7:42 am
Posts: 105
Location: Brooklyn, NY
NPR can also be good a source for hearing names and place names. I have been able to use the search feature on the NPR website, find what I'm looking for, and then listen to streaming audio to hear how they pronounce it.


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