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Well Said, English.
September 25, 2007 2:07 PM   Subscribe

Increase your pronunciation skills and your vocabulary by checking out 6000 English words recorded by a native speaker. Not enough for you? Then would you believe 20,000 English words recorded by a native speaker?
posted by Effigy2000 (55 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
the first one I clicked on was annihilate. kinda creepy.
posted by desjardins at 2:13 PM on September 25, 2007


Heh.
posted by sklero at 2:17 PM on September 25, 2007


Hey Stephen Hawking, I have a website to show you...
posted by smackfu at 2:22 PM on September 25, 2007


it can say cheezburger? (close enough)
posted by anthill at 2:25 PM on September 25, 2007


Clarification: a native American English speaker, not a native English, or 'other' English speaker.
posted by Azaadistani at 2:30 PM on September 25, 2007


Cheney
posted by humannaire at 2:31 PM on September 25, 2007


I was going to say I don't really need it, but just yesterday I looked up the pronunciation of the word imperator because I was pretty sure Andy Deris was either making the word up, or pronouncing it wrong. But - no! So I learned something.

A big fan of the T minus 2 words game, I propose this as the first example I can think of a 1-word cue for a song.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:31 PM on September 25, 2007


These guys will give you the whole dictionary (just click on the little speaker button when you search for a word.) An added bonus for me is that the male voice is my uncle, but unless you're one of my brothers that won't be true for you.
posted by sy at 2:32 PM on September 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


She's so whiny. It is possible to have a US English accent without sounding like you have a face with a fist deficiency.
posted by mr. strange at 2:40 PM on September 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hear a native English speaker talk every day: me!
posted by papakwanz at 2:42 PM on September 25, 2007


Clarification: a native American English speaker, not a native English, or 'other' English speaker.

Attention Americans! Do not attempt to talk like a native English speaker of English, as it will simply make you sound like a twat.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on September 25, 2007


Well, we'll see what Tom Baker has to say about this!
posted by Muddler at 2:57 PM on September 25, 2007


Who is this native speaker who is making all these recordings, and how does he or she find the time?
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:57 PM on September 25, 2007


I am amused that she saw fit to pronounce hermeneutics but not jewelry.
posted by oddman at 3:00 PM on September 25, 2007


And if you're George Bush speaking before the U.N. be sure to have a phonetic (fone-eh-tick) pronunciation cheat-sheet at hand.
posted by ericb at 3:10 PM on September 25, 2007


Fun things to try in the text reader:


Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.

twas brillig, and the slythy toves
did gyre and gimble in the wabe,
all mimsy were the borogroves,
and the mome raths outgrabe.

and iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii will always, love yooooooooooooooooooou

posted by Citizen Premier at 3:11 PM on September 25, 2007


oh, and:
kahseraioshhgolhdbipasehrtipashglksjipsagasdfojaslkbhaiowertipashjklashfg
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:14 PM on September 25, 2007


Those are just a drop in the bucket. There are over half a million words in the English language, not counting technical words and terms of art.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:14 PM on September 25, 2007


Maybe we should re-name it Americanish? You say tomato...
posted by A189Nut at 3:21 PM on September 25, 2007


Re: Artw's comment above, one might sound like a twat, but how does twat sound? The linked sites demurely refuse to provide a clue. Toft-snutch fans have a vested interest in the answer:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11
posted by rob511 at 3:24 PM on September 25, 2007


I was ready to pounce on 6,000 and 20,000 as they pronounced "forte" as "fortay" but each cleverly declined.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:33 PM on September 25, 2007


It also comes in Chinese, Dutch, French and Russian.
posted by slogger at 3:34 PM on September 25, 2007


I was ready to pounce on 6,000 and 20,000 as they pronounced "forte" as "fortay"

Why? That's a perfectly good way to pronounce it.
posted by languagehat at 3:38 PM on September 25, 2007


Those are just a drop in the bucket.

But in a bucket that has such a skewed, long-tail frequency distribution, that drop might (depending on their choice of words) occupy better than half the volume, word-for-word.
posted by cortex at 3:48 PM on September 25, 2007


I grew up in Utah, so this will prove useful.
posted by mecran01 at 3:48 PM on September 25, 2007


Why? That's a perfectly good way to pronounce it.

Nonsense. If we don't pedantically bite out "fort" despite actual long-standing usage, the terrorists have won.
posted by cortex at 3:49 PM on September 25, 2007


Bah. If you're going to steal words like forté from other languages, you should at least have the graciousness to keep the original pronunciation (or as close as you can get, anyway)
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:04 PM on September 25, 2007


Good point, ArkhanJG. Here's a coupon for some lingerie.
posted by cortex at 4:13 PM on September 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Anyone know a Spanish or Portuguese language equivalent?
posted by bluefin at 4:16 PM on September 25, 2007


ericb: "And if you're George Bush speaking before the U.N. be sure to have a phonetic (fone-eh-tick) pronunciation cheat-sheet at hand."

Okay.

I rewrote (self-link) the Gettysburg Address in a pseudo-Bush voice for class a few years ago, and in the read-out version (I had to perform it) I had done the exact same thing to make sure I got all the Bushisms right (and to prevent myself from reverting to British pronunciation here and there). E.g. "whereupon" would become "where-you-PON". To see this on the actual Bush's actual reading draft is, well, kind of weird for me.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:52 PM on September 25, 2007


you should at least have the graciousness to keep the original pronunciation (or as close as you can get, anyway)

Not when our pronunciation is better.
posted by smackfu at 5:02 PM on September 25, 2007


ArkhanJG: "If you're going to steal words like forté from other languages, you should at least have the graciousness to keep the original pronunciation (or as close as you can get, anyway)"

Don't you mean "If you're going to steal words like for-TAY from other lahngk, you should at least have the grah-ti-OH-soos-ness to keep the original pro-nohn-see-ah-SHOHn"?

Or as close as you can get, anyway.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:10 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


If we're going to get all technical, shouldn't we say /for/ instead of /fort/ instead of /forte/?
posted by oxford blue at 5:18 PM on September 25, 2007


what a fahs (farce).
posted by brandz at 6:41 PM on September 25, 2007


Am I missing something? I don't recall hearing "forte" pronounced any way other than /for'te/, and the OED calls /fort/ a "former" pronunciation.
posted by obvious at 6:42 PM on September 25, 2007


No matter what the OED says, it's not former until all those "fort" bastards are dead.
posted by smackfu at 6:51 PM on September 25, 2007


So some people do still say /fort/? Bastards.
posted by obvious at 6:58 PM on September 25, 2007


"Clarification: a native American English speaker, not a native English, or 'other' English speaker."

A (Native American) English speaker? A (native) American English Speaker? A (Native American) (British) English speaker? Arg!

"you should at least have the graciousness to keep the original pronunciation (or as close as you can get, anyway)"

No way! We aren't the lingua franca (Frankish language!?) because we correctly pronounce the words we pillage from our enemies. Your phrases are our captives now, we'll do with them as we wish. If you don't like seeing your precious phonemes twisted on the rack, complain to the U.N. or something! Bwahaha!

Bwahaha!
posted by Fimbaz at 7:01 PM on September 25, 2007


Somewhat related, this guy does pretty good accents from all around Britain. Fun to watch, imo.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:06 PM on September 25, 2007


Part 2 with some around the world accents. His New York ain't terrible.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:17 PM on September 25, 2007


I was really all prepared to hate that, lazaruslong (waiting for him to break into numa numa and everything) but it really was quite entertaining and accurate, the UK one. I'm watching the second one right now.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:24 PM on September 25, 2007


Tangent: I met a Scottish photographer and it took me half an hour to figure out what she meant when she said that before this she mostly did "wet-ins".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:26 PM on September 25, 2007


Okay, so it had to come to this but his Dutch accent is, of course, waaay off. American influences dominate in contemporary Dutch English, sure, but still. He just sounds like a New Yoikah with a bad lisp.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:29 PM on September 25, 2007


GNFTI: You're totally right, I caught that too. The apartment complex I used to live at was across the street from the youth hostel, and I met quite a few, and they sounded nothing like that.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:46 PM on September 25, 2007


If we're going to get all technical, shouldn't we say /for/ instead of /fort/ instead of /forte/?

Not as long as it's spelled forte, no.
Forte is pronounced fort.
Fort is for.

I think the real issue with pronouncing it for-tay is that it's French-ifying the word in a fake way - if you're going to make something French, pronounce it like the French do, don't just add "ay" at the end because you think it sounds snooty.

(Someone correct my rusty high school French if I'm wrong on any or all of that).
posted by naoko at 8:52 PM on September 25, 2007


lazaruslong: That guy's australian accent was terrible. It didn't match any of the accents over here. Oh well, *sigh*, that's pretty normal for so-called 'australian' accents. His german one was pretty good, though.
posted by ysabet at 10:35 PM on September 25, 2007


the best thing about this website is middle clicking a bunch of the words in firefox and enjoying the Orbital/Steve Reich thing.

http://arael.shtooka.net/swf/english/thine.swf
http://arael.shtooka.net/swf/english/becomes.swf
http://arael.shtooka.net/swf/english/a-unstressed.swf
http://arael.shtooka.net/swf/english/soup.swf
posted by 6am at 3:51 AM on September 26, 2007


If you're going to steal words like forté from other languages, you should at least have the graciousness to keep the original pronunciation (or as close as you can get, anyway)

What language did you have in mind? As far as I know, there is no form like forté anywhere (unless it's the name of a new car or perfume).

As I said in this wonderful dead-editor thread,

it's not from French forte, it's from French fort (masculine)... which means there is no "correct" pronunciation in English if you go by original-language rules, which is why this is one of my favorite demonstration words for the principle I constantly try to drum into people: you don't need to know any other language to speak English correctly. Most English speakers (including me) say FOR-tay, which means that's the English pronunciation, regardless of historical considerations.

posted by languagehat at 5:28 AM on September 26, 2007


Wow, that was a great thread (just finished rereading it), and this is my favorite thing in it, from weapons-grade pandemonium:

Language, like the violin, is a fretless instrument. That doesn’t mean anybody can play well. You recognize competence immediately, and it has to do with the ear and the heart and the gut--you can’t fully explain by citing rules. In fact, the best players bend the rules.
posted by languagehat at 5:43 AM on September 26, 2007


?

I always thought that forte was Itallian in derivation (via, forex, music scores). The Itallian pronunciation sounds the terminal 'e', so that's the way it's come into English, no?

Fort in French is the masculin form, and is more or less pronunced like the English "for". The feminin "Forte" is more or less "fort". There would be no pronunciation in French, that I know of, that would sound "forte" as for-tay.
posted by bonehead at 8:47 AM on September 26, 2007


I always thought that forte was Itallian in derivation

Lots of people assume that, but no, it's not.

There would be no pronunciation in French, that I know of, that would sound "forte" as for-tay.


But it's not from forte, it's from fort, which is why the whole argument about what the "authentic" pronunciation is is so richly idiotic.
posted by languagehat at 9:04 AM on September 26, 2007


Does that mean theres such a thing as a pianofort? Awesome, I want one!
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on September 26, 2007


Better yet, let's get a bunch of them and build a forte!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:52 AM on September 26, 2007


I suggest we punt and agree that it somehow derives from fortis then. My OED says that "forte" is a very old construction in English, dating back to 1175 at least, which suggests that it's some Norman proto-French anyway.

Incidentally, there is no "forté" construction in French either. That would be pronounced close to for-tay, but it doesn't exist.
posted by bonehead at 11:24 AM on September 26, 2007


That's some good stuff, great for ESL folks.
posted by fe2dell at 8:51 PM on September 26, 2007


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