Monday, 5th April 2010
Resources of the Week: Voice of America Pronunciation Guide...and a few others
Resource of the Week: Voice of America Pronunciation Guide...and a few others
By Shirl Kennedy, Senior Editor
If you want to sound sophisticated and worldly -- or just not embarrass yourself -- when discussing current affairs, take a look at the VOA Pronunciation Guide. It's a repository of pronunciation keys and audio files (mp3) for people and places in the news from around the world. The search form is easily understood -- use the "Exact Search" box if you're sure of how to spell the name, the "Near Search" box if you're not sure, the "List Lookup" dropdown menu if you want to browse through the entire database, or the "Origin" dropdown menu to view names by country. A Help screen and a Pronunciation Key are available.
An addition resource at this site is a Nations and their Languages guide. This information is culled from the World Almanac and Book of Facts, the Information Please Almanac, and the CIA's World Factbook.
A few other pronunciation guides we like:
+ Asian Names Pronunciation Guide, from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Native speakers who were/are Cal Poly Pomona students provided all sound samples (in .wav format) for Cambodian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Filipino, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese names.
+ HearNames.com: The advanced search form is a gem. The dropdown "Category" menu presents a number of interesting options, such as U.S. Presidents, Armenian Surnames, Russian Names, etc. These are also available via the Name Categories link on the top navigation bar.
+ Pronounce Names: The Dictionary of Name Pronunciation
In today's international business environment, it is exceedingly important to say your clients name correctly, you CANNOT afford to call Dumass, a Dumb-ass. The internet has removed international boundaries and people are making new friends via email and chat every second, would you not want your friends to be able to pronounce your name correctly?
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Pinky Thakkar (silent "h"), an engineer from Mumbai, started the Web site www.pronouncenames.com after she moved to San Jose, Calif., and mispronounced the "J" in "San Jose," not giving it the "H" sound used in Spanish words. Properly pronouncing person and place names proved nearly impossible for Ms. Thakkar and her friends from abroad, she says.
More than 75,000 entries, including 38,000 audio files, have been submitted to Ms. Thakkar's Web site since it launched in 2006. She manages the site with six other volunteers.
+ LanguageGuide.org: You'll find a variety of volunteer-created resources here. The Pictorial Vocabulary Guides are especially charming. Select a language, choose a category, and then roll your cursor over a letter, number or picture to hear its name pronounced, such as the birds (os pássaros) in Brazilian Portuguese, or sea animals (umi no ikimono) in Japanese.