What do you do when you don’t know how to pronounce the name of a person, place or thing?
Voice actors routinely run into words that they may not be familiar with.
This is why it is important for you to have immediate access to tools that are designed to help with pronunciation.
Do you need to speak with confidence on topics outside of your expertise?
This article has links to a few resources you may find helpful in your quest.
Audiobook Narration: People, Places and Things
Audio Eloquence provides pronunciation, dialect, and speech resources for audiobook narrators. The Audio Eloquence site is maintained by Judith West and Heather Henderson for their colleagues in audiobook production.
Audio Eloquence has a cool reference key to let you know if there are audio samples (including some video) available and phonetic rendering. Something that was really neat about this site is that it touches on a variety of industries and disciplines, providing links to outside resources that teach you how to pronounce words in their particular areas of expertise.
The site, updated on April 3, 2013, now has 30+ new pronunciation sites, annotations, and a new section, “Dialects and Accents,” with sites that may help narrators with character and dialect work.
If you’re ever in a spot where you don’t know how to say something in a medical narration project, the pronunciations section of The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook for patients and caregivers is a great resource. Similarly, you can use this site to learn how to say words found in the medical lexicon.
You can find a pronunciation for nearly every medical term from A to Z. There are also anatomical drawings in a separate section of the site to help you understand what you are talking about. The website itself is a great place to explore when preparing to voice a medical narration.
Merck is committed to bringing out the best in medicine. As part of that effort, Merck provides all of The Merck Manuals as a service to the community.
Enter Keywords To Hear Pronunciations
HowJSay.com is a free online Talking Dictionary of English Pronunciation. You can type in the word you want to hear pronounced and a voice will read that word aloud for you. I had success typing in names as well as words.
Many voice actors use this resource because you can quickly type in the word you are seeking without having to go through a list or searching through categories.
A Resource For English Dialects
Not sure how to pronounce something in a dialect different from your own? You’ll want to explore the International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA for short), a site that features audio samples of dialects for theatre and film artists.
IDEA’s founder, director, and principal contributor is Professor Paul Meier. He established the archive in 1997 to enable actors to hear real-life models for their characters’ accents and dialects. But IDEA has since proved invaluable in many other research fields too. For example, it has become a principal tool of international business, enabling customer-service personnel to become familiar with the many accents and dialects of English spoken by their customers.
Recently, IDEA went through a number of renovations. The new site is now fully searchable, not just by country, state, and province, but also by characteristics of each speaker, such as ethnicity, age, and occupation. Even single phrases from transcriptions and phonetics can be searched online. The text and audio files for each sample have been standardized and combined on a single page, allowing users to easily listen to the streaming audio while they read the accompanying transcription and commentary.
Where Do You Source Pronunciations?
If you use a site that isn’t listed here to help you pronounce uncommon words, names of people and or places, please add the site’s name and URL in the comments.
Looking forward to your reply!