15 Apr 2010

That’s pruh . . . uh, proo . . . oh, geez

voice-over hints, tips, and tricks No Comments
pronouncing words correctly can be difficult for voice-over artists

Feeling Tongue Tied?

I recently experienced first hand how pronunciation prep work can kill a long-from narration. I agreed to do a fifteen hour audiobook without realizing there were hundreds of proper nouns and foreign words I did know how to pronounce.

1. The author You sometimes can get a pronunciation list from the author themselves, just make sure you work through the publisher so you don’t overstep any bounds and so that if the author asks you to change something you’ve gone through the right channels!
2. Dictionary.com This is still my go to spot for pronunciations. While I do occasionally have clients who swear a word is pronounced differently, they are authoritative and free.

3. Youtube.com While this works surprisingly well for certain names and contemporary phrases if you have ADD like my it can quickly be a waste of time as you try a dozen videos to get a clear pronunciation.

4. Google “(language in questions)+audio+dictionary” There are some real gems here but I found it interesting what I couldn’t find. Plus a phrase or name may look very similar to one in the dictionary and sound totally different.

5. Forvo Social networking for pronunciation geeks. If you can’t find a recording in their growing archives you can request the word and usually within a day get a response. Forvo even lists the nationality and gender of the speaker helping you to discern proper pronunciation for your project. Like all social intelligence sites there is no guarantee of accuracy but this is my new go-to site for foreign or hard to find words.

Prep work can quickly turn an winning project unprofitable–either if you don’t do enough of it or you have to do to much. Proper pronunciation is not a step that can be overlooked so learning to do it efficiently can be crucial. Feel free to add any tips or helpful sites you may have found.

photo © creativecommons credit: bmhkim

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