Pronunciation Help for Unfamiliar and Foreign Words in Your LibriVox Recordings

If you do much recording for LibriVox, you’ll probably come across words that you’re not sure how to pronounce. Maybe it’s a word that doesn’t get used much anymore, or maybe it’s a phrase in a foreign language. Here’s my approach for this problem:

  1. Make a list of the words you’re not familiar with. I usually list them in a text file so I can make quick additions later.
  2. Learn how to pronounce each word. Try the following resources:
    • Online dictionaries: For English words, try Dictionary.com or Merriam-Webster. Both have audio files so you can hear someone say the words.
    • Google Translate: If you’re having trouble with a phrase in a foreign language, try Google Translate. Not only does it translate words and phrases for you, it lets you listen to them too.
    • YouTube: For unusual last names or words that are no longer in common use, you may have luck finding something on YouTube.
    • LibriVox forum pronunciation thread: Try asking for help in the LibriVox forum’s Pronunciation help thread. A volunteer may record the word or phrase so you can hear just how it should be pronounced. It might take a few days before someone responds, but it’s a great option when all others fail.
  3. For each word in your list, try writing a phonetic version that closely resembles how you would actually say it. If it helps, add links to the pronunciation videos and sound files you found so you can jog your memory.
  4. Practice saying each word before you begin recording.

Struggling with an unfamiliar word or phrase can be frustrating, but with a little research and practice, you should end up with a recording that you and your proof listener are happy with.

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