You say poe-TAY-toe.
August 4, 2009 10:03 PM   Subscribe

Forvo: All the words in the world, pronounced by native speakers. At the time of this post, the tally stands at: 327,492 words; 239,165 pronunciations; in 220 languages; with 25,040 users submitting.
posted by not_on_display (23 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
But how will we know when we've gotten them all?
posted by iamkimiam at 10:09 PM on August 4, 2009

Who needs all those words in all those languages? English is good enough for the Bible, and it's good enough for me!
posted by orthogonality at 10:17 PM on August 4, 2009

That's the Fribble and Blegg Theory of linguistic evolution.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:17 PM on August 4, 2009

This is where we get into a rumble with Canadians on how to pronounce "about," right?
posted by contessa at 10:26 PM on August 4, 2009

Is that bow or bow? How about schedule or skedule? About or aboot?

Oh, they've already covered it: multiple pronunciations are supported. Bow, schedule, and about.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:27 PM on August 4, 2009

Hm, firefox him say "wedged" (though it sounds more like: ...) when one of the "play" links fails to respond.
posted by nonspecialist at 10:49 PM on August 4, 2009

posted by loquacious at 11:28 PM on August 4, 2009

posted by Rhaomi at 11:37 PM on August 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

…and like some evil, twisted genius from comic books of old made bitter by the loss of an only son or a freakish, humiliating mutation who believes himself doomed to a lifetime of contributing to the universal sorrow and human suffering of which I have been given surfeit, I will rub my hands together and cackle with glee here in my basement laboratory and continue my dastardly project of making up new words faster than they can record people pronouncing them, knowing that so long as I continue meganewwordifying, these unlekker fürscheiden will be haunted by the pale and spectrotastic shade of utter and abstruct failure!

Take that, ridiculously obsessive linguistic completists! Ha ha!
posted by koeselitz at 12:37 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

My first thought was that I pronounce some words about 10 different ways and I was afraid it was going to sound like the voicemail lady so I checked that most useful and variously pronounced of all words - fuck. There were 35 different pronunciations in 9 different usages. So I think they have the right idea.
Still no "Fuckin' A" though. Someone with a mic wanna take care of that? Please.
posted by vapidave at 6:00 AM on August 5, 2009

Also this is going to give ransom letters to the blind a much more human touch than those done with text-to-speech.
posted by vapidave at 6:04 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Some way to annotate the words would be nice. For example, I tried Scheveningen, Dutch, which has two decent pronunciations on the site. But the back story on this is that the name of this town was used as one of the passwords in the Dutch resistance movement during WWII, because no German could possibly pronounce it correctly. Also, the map that comes up on the Scheveningen page misses the town by miles.
posted by beagle at 6:42 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just heard a japanese woman pronounce douchebag. My day is a success from here on in.
posted by Xurando at 7:34 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]

Burhanistan, that wasn't K. Dilkington, was it?
posted by greasepig at 7:44 AM on August 5, 2009

This is a great idea, but when I took a cursory glance at English I discovered that there are a couple of problems with various accents. Surely there should be a default that says that people from a place pronounce the name correctly and that others are just guessing. This seems to be the case with this American attempt at pronouncing Tottenham. I know that's how an American would say it, but I'm pretty sure that the place that's being referred to is in London so therefore that's the correct pronunciation. Actually there's a couple of ways to say this with a local accent depending on how RP one's accent is, but, yeah I guess I'd like to see a way to annotate words. If there are Tottenhams in the US then we have the Birmingham BirmingHAM issue which only strengthens the argument for annotation (little map pins giving the speaker's location aren't quite enough...) Anyway, it's still a good idea, I just think it needs some tweaking.
posted by ob at 7:50 AM on August 5, 2009

What ob said. Nice idea, needs better implementation.
posted by languagehat at 8:02 AM on August 5, 2009

Who are the native speakers of esperanto?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2009

It doesn't know Odovocar the Ostrogoth or heteroskedasticity. Useless, and impertinent.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:35 PM on August 5, 2009

> Who are the native speakers of esperanto?

Native Esperanto speakers: "According to Ethnologue, there are '200–2000 who speak Esperanto as a first language.'"
posted by languagehat at 1:56 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Most notably, George Soros.

If you don't like that particular pronunciation of "Tottenham", you can rate it poorly. This site doesn't work well without the ratings.
posted by Casuistry at 12:06 AM on August 6, 2009

But there's no way to know whether someone rated it poorly because they knew it was wrong, mistakenly thought it was wrong, or just didn't like it. Also, there simply aren't enough raters to make it likely that an incorrect or unusual pronunciation will get rated down. Compare Wikipedia entries on topics that not many people care about; who knows whether whoever made a change knew what they were talking about? Sure, someone who does can change it back or improve it, but that might happen in several years, or never.
posted by languagehat at 6:57 AM on August 6, 2009

Half the words in German weren't German, but Dutch. What an odd site.
posted by spamguy at 7:06 AM on August 6, 2009

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