Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

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Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

David Gerard-2
A suggestion from a reader, emailed to me:

> I'm not press, but this seemed the only access to the Wikipedes. (Mind you,
> I am a former newspaper columnist.)
> As a lexicographer, I admire Wikipedia, and offer one suggestion. Ask your
> contributors to indicate pronunciation where needed.
> For instance, I had to look up an actress with the first name of "Cote." Is
> it [COAT]? [ko-TAY]? [KO-tay]?


Quite a few of our articles on people include the pronunciation, but
it's far from universal. Would anyone be interested in a drive to fill
out pronunciations? (What groups of Wikipedians are fans of this
stuff?) Adding a field in the infoboxes might help too.


- d.

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

John Lee-14
On Jan 18, 2008 6:02 AM, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> A suggestion from a reader, emailed to me:
>
> > I'm not press, but this seemed the only access to the Wikipedes. (Mind you,
> > I am a former newspaper columnist.)
> > As a lexicographer, I admire Wikipedia, and offer one suggestion. Ask your
> > contributors to indicate pronunciation where needed.
> > For instance, I had to look up an actress with the first name of "Cote." Is
> > it [COAT]? [ko-TAY]? [KO-tay]?
>
>
> Quite a few of our articles on people include the pronunciation, but
> it's far from universal. Would anyone be interested in a drive to fill
> out pronunciations? (What groups of Wikipedians are fans of this
> stuff?) Adding a field in the infoboxes might help too.

On a related note, it would be helpful if we, you know, used a
pronunciation guide that makes sense to most English-speaking people.
The IPA thing is nonsense, and I have never been able to glean more
than bits of redundant pronunciation information from it.

Johnleemk

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Thomas Dalton
> On a related note, it would be helpful if we, you know, used a
> pronunciation guide that makes sense to most English-speaking people.
> The IPA thing is nonsense, and I have never been able to glean more
> than bits of redundant pronunciation information from it.

Agreed. IPA is great for people that know it, so it's worth including,
but a simple phonetic spelling should also be provided, or even just a
"rhymes with X".

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Tony Sidaway
On 18/01/2008, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > On a related note, it would be helpful if we, you know, used a
> > pronunciation guide that makes sense to most English-speaking people.
> > The IPA thing is nonsense, and I have never been able to glean more
> > than bits of redundant pronunciation information from it.
>
> Agreed. IPA is great for people that know it, so it's worth including,
> but a simple phonetic spelling should also be provided, or even just a
> "rhymes with X".

But how do you pronounce word X?   English pronunciation varies very,
very widely (even in tiny England the range of pronunciation of simple
words like "rub" and "new" is quite large) At least IPA has
consistency, and if I really need to know what those funny squiggles
mean I can click on the link in the template to see exactly that.

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Thomas Dalton
On 18/01/2008, Tony Sidaway <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 18/01/2008, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > > On a related note, it would be helpful if we, you know, used a
> > > pronunciation guide that makes sense to most English-speaking people.
> > > The IPA thing is nonsense, and I have never been able to glean more
> > > than bits of redundant pronunciation information from it.
> >
> > Agreed. IPA is great for people that know it, so it's worth including,
> > but a simple phonetic spelling should also be provided, or even just a
> > "rhymes with X".
>
> But how do you pronounce word X?   English pronunciation varies very,
> very widely (even in tiny England the range of pronunciation of simple
> words like "rub" and "new" is quite large) At least IPA has
> consistency, and if I really need to know what those funny squiggles
> mean I can click on the link in the template to see exactly that.

IPA is great for giving precise pronunciations, but simpler methods
are great for people that just want a general idea so they can read
the article (unpronounceable words can make it hard to read something,
even silently - it disrupts the flow). Oh, any less of the "tiny", if
you don't mind...

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

James Farrar
On 18/01/2008, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> IPA is great for giving precise pronunciations, but simpler methods
> are great for people that just want a general idea so they can read
> the article (unpronounceable words can make it hard to read something,
> even silently - it disrupts the flow). Oh, any less of the "tiny", if
> you don't mind...

Some articles have ogg files with the pronunciation, which I have
found rather helpful in some cases.

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Ian A. Holton

On Fri, 2008-01-18 at 15:47 +0000, James Farrar wrote:

> On 18/01/2008, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > IPA is great for giving precise pronunciations, but simpler methods
> > are great for people that just want a general idea so they can read
> > the article (unpronounceable words can make it hard to read something,
> > even silently - it disrupts the flow). Oh, any less of the "tiny", if
> > you don't mind...
>
> Some articles have ogg files with the pronunciation, which I have
> found rather helpful in some cases.
Yeah, that seems to be one of best solutions: IPA + audio. I find the
rhymes with x solution rather amateurish and encyclopedic to be fair. As
soon as I get a decent microphone, which I'll actually order straight
after posting this, I'll start recording names for foreign people from
German, Austria and Switzerland and possibly do some work on Chinese
names (or get a friend to sit down and do it).

Ian [[User:Poeloq]]

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Andrew Gray
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On 18/01/2008, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:
> A suggestion from a reader, emailed to me:

> > As a lexicographer, I admire Wikipedia, and offer one suggestion. Ask your
> > contributors to indicate pronunciation where needed.
> > For instance, I had to look up an actress with the first name of "Cote." Is
> > it [COAT]? [ko-TAY]? [KO-tay]?
>
> Quite a few of our articles on people include the pronunciation, but
> it's far from universal. Would anyone be interested in a drive to fill
> out pronunciations? (What groups of Wikipedians are fans of this
> stuff?) Adding a field in the infoboxes might help too.

The problem is that Pronunciation Is Hard [TM].

We get this request a lot on OTRS, and the universal response is "we
try to, but coverage is patchy". There have been drives in the past,
but they've foundered on:

a) not too many people are motivated to do it;
b) in many cases, the people who are motivated to do it aren't the
ones who also know how it's pronounced;
c) we insist on using IPA rather than "pronounced KO-tay".

c) is kind of the sticking point. Very few people are confident and
competent with IPA; to most of us, it is at best something that we
encounter in dictionaries and try not to think too hard about. This
means that our editors aren't likely to add it (because they don't
feel comfortable using it, and certainly don't want to spend fifteen
minutes with a lookup table and some incomprehensible runes to get a
valid word), and that our readers aren't likely to use it even if it's
there.

But we don't have much option! Anything else is simply ineffective for
a project with such a wide and diffuse base of contributors and users
- saying "rhymes with X" or some kind of phonetic spelling is only
reliable if we assume that everyone pronounces X, or interprets those
syllables, the same way.

[This is also the reason why giving dictionary-style definitions for
normal nouns - "tomato" - would rapidly fall over; too much local
variation. Names and other proper nouns have a "right" pronunciation
regardless of where you are, though, so we can get away with it]

And we just have too many contributors, too wide a readerbase, to be
able to say that with any degree of confidence.

--
- Andrew Gray
  [hidden email]

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Carl Beckhorn
On Fri, Jan 18, 2008 at 05:22:13PM +0000, Andrew Gray wrote:
> Names and other proper nouns have a "right" pronunciation
> regardless of where you are, though, so we can get away with it

If that were true, the situation would be much easier. It isn't
uncommon for pronunciation of a name to vary significantly from
one dialect to another.

 Carl

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Andrew Gray
On 18/01/2008, Carl Beckhorn <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 18, 2008 at 05:22:13PM +0000, Andrew Gray wrote:
> > Names and other proper nouns have a "right" pronunciation
> > regardless of where you are, though, so we can get away with it
>
> If that were true, the situation would be much easier. It isn't
> uncommon for pronunciation of a name to vary significantly from
> one dialect to another.

Yes, but we can argue that the one they themselves use is the "right" one :-)

You and I might differ on how "Beckhorn" is pronounced, but any third
party would say that your interpretation is the one that ought to go
after your name.

--
- Andrew Gray
  [hidden email]

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
Thomas Dalton wrote:
> IPA is great for giving precise pronunciations, but simpler methods
> are great for people that just want a general idea so they can read
> the article (unpronounceable words can make it hard to read something,
> even silently - it disrupts the flow).
Mispronouncing a word when you are reading silently doesn't matter.  
Nobody can hear you.  If you insist on having the pronunciation for
every word that you read you must be a very slow reader.  The Chinese
are just as literate despite the fact that Chinese characters have only
limited connection to pronunciation.  With English names the Chinese
characters would work just as well.

Ec


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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Andrew Gray
On 18/01/2008, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Thomas Dalton wrote:
> > IPA is great for giving precise pronunciations, but simpler methods
> > are great for people that just want a general idea so they can read
> > the article (unpronounceable words can make it hard to read something,
> > even silently - it disrupts the flow).
> Mispronouncing a word when you are reading silently doesn't matter.
> Nobody can hear you.  If you insist on having the pronunciation for
> every word that you read you must be a very slow reader.

My usual experience is that people stumble the first time, decide on a
pronunciation, and file it away. As you'd expect, this is very common
among children who read voraciously and somewhat in advance of their
peers - they encounter a word they never hear spoken, so guess the
correct pronunciation.

This then causes gales of hilarity in later life when they happen to
use the word in conversation for the first time, and discover everyone
else has a different pronunciation of it...

(Examplar: is it "web two" or "web two point oh?" It's a term pretty
much everyone will encounter in text long before in speech, and I
noticed at a conference last year that there was a fairly even divide
- and pretty random distribution - between which way people parsed
it...)

--
- Andrew Gray
  [hidden email]

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Ray Saintonge
On 18/01/2008, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Thomas Dalton wrote:
> > IPA is great for giving precise pronunciations, but simpler methods
> > are great for people that just want a general idea so they can read
> > the article (unpronounceable words can make it hard to read something,
> > even silently - it disrupts the flow).
> Mispronouncing a word when you are reading silently doesn't matter.
> Nobody can hear you.  If you insist on having the pronunciation for
> every word that you read you must be a very slow reader.  The Chinese
> are just as literate despite the fact that Chinese characters have only
> limited connection to pronunciation.  With English names the Chinese
> characters would work just as well.

It doesn't matter, but it is nice to be close rather than just
guessing a random possible pronunciation. There are two ways you can
read any given word, it can be a word you're familiar with (it's in
your "sight vocabulary") and you just take it in at a glance, or it
can be a word you aren't familiar with and you need to "sound it out"
(of course, once you're an experienced reader, sounding out is done
much quicker than a young child would do it). The kind of words you're
likely to not know the pronunciations of are words you aren't familiar
with, in which case being able to sound it out is useful. You can just
skip over it and just think "oh, that word again", but it breaks your
flow and slows reading down. I don't speak Chinese, but I imagine it's
similar to English is that respect - most characters will be in your
sight vocabulary and it doesn't make any difference how they're
written, you just know it as an image. Characters you are less
familiar with, you would presumably have to slow down to read. The
fact that you can't just "sound out" the word might make it harder to
learn new words when reading, I don't really know, perhaps you just
get used to it the same as we get used to the way English works.

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Carl Beckhorn
In reply to this post by Andrew Gray
On Fri, Jan 18, 2008 at 05:47:44PM +0000, Andrew Gray wrote:
> You and I might differ on how "Beckhorn" is pronounced, but any third
> party would say that your interpretation is the one that ought to go
> after your name.

I would argue that the third party should use the pronunciation of my
name that is most common and well-regarded among members of his intended
audience. This is especially relevant when the name is originally in a
language different than the one being used to speak. Using the original,
foreign pronunciation could easily be perceived as an affectation.

 Carl


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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Andrew Gray
Andrew Gray wrote:
> [This is also the reason why giving dictionary-style definitions for
> normal nouns - "tomato" - would rapidly fall over; too much local
> variation. Names and other proper nouns have a "right" pronunciation
> regardless of where you are, though, so we can get away with it]
Even with local names and proper nouns that's not the case.  In North
America French names are particularly vulnerable to mangling when they
are anglicized.  French speakers can only be bemused by the way that
Americans pronounce the name of the capital of Iowa.

Ec

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Charlotte Webb
In reply to this post by Tony Sidaway
On 1/18/08, Tony Sidaway <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 18/01/2008, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > On 1/18/08, John Lee <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > > On a related note, it would be helpful if we, you know, used a
> > > pronunciation guide that makes sense to most English-speaking people.
> > > The IPA thing is nonsense, and I have never been able to glean more
> > > than bits of redundant pronunciation information from it.
> >
> > Agreed. IPA is great for people that know it, so it's worth including,
> > but a simple phonetic spelling should also be provided, or even just a
> > "rhymes with X".
>
> But how do you pronounce word X?   English pronunciation varies very,
> very widely (even in tiny England the range of pronunciation of simple
> words like "rub" and "new" is quite large) At least IPA has
> consistency, and if I really need to know what those funny squiggles
> mean I can click on the link in the template to see exactly that.

I agree. As long as there exists a system with some degree of
widespread acceptance we should build upon it rather than against
it.[1]

I noticed one user's tool which apparently adds hovering "help text"
to help interpret IPA symbols, e.g. <span title="fOOd">u</span>, which
might be worth experimenting with.[2]

On the other hand if the constructed IPA is more consistent than *any*
natural language, wouldn't it be relatively easy for a machine to read
it, aloud?

—C.W.

[1] This may be why Citizendium is a colossal waste of bandwidth and
Veropedia is slightly interesting. :p
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nohat/IPA.js

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Andrew Gray
On 18/01/2008, Charlotte Webb <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On the other hand if the constructed IPA is more consistent than *any*
> natural language, wouldn't it be relatively easy for a machine to read
> it, aloud?

Why, why, *why* has this not been suggested before? Marvellous!

(also, an image-generation program to create heraldic crests from
descriptions. that'd be much the same sort of concept)

--
- Andrew Gray
  [hidden email]

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Gregory Maxwell
In reply to this post by John Lee-14
On Jan 18, 2008 6:25 AM, John Lee <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On a related note, it would be helpful if we, you know, used a
> pronunciation guide that makes sense to most English-speaking people.
> The IPA thing is nonsense, and I have never been able to glean more
> than bits of redundant pronunciation information from it.

IPA is, technically, automatically convertible to correct speech by
software. Phonetic spellings won't be.

None of the existing free software speech syntheizers that I am aware
of support IPA as a phonetic input format currently.  I spend a couple
of hours trying to write a IPA->festival phonetic converter, but my
own lack of understand of IP (and phonetic representations) got in the
way.

This really should be done, not only would it improve the ease and
coverage of getting a pronouncation but it would also reduce the risk
of IPA vandalism.

(If you search the archives you should be able to find me talking
about this a couple times in the past, ... I can't be bothered right
now.)

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

David Gerard-2
On 18/01/2008, Gregory Maxwell <[hidden email]> wrote:

> IPA is, technically, automatically convertible to correct speech by
> software. Phonetic spellings won't be.
> None of the existing free software speech syntheizers that I am aware
> of support IPA as a phonetic input format currently.  I spend a couple
> of hours trying to write a IPA->festival phonetic converter, but my
> own lack of understand of IP (and phonetic representations) got in the
> way.
> This really should be done, not only would it improve the ease and
> coverage of getting a pronouncation but it would also reduce the risk
> of IPA vandalism.


This is a *brilliant* idea. Please, spread it around!

(I'm just picturing it: "MediaWiki. Dependencies: Festival.")


- d.

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Re: Fwd: Suggestion: Pronunciation on all names

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Andrew Gray
Andrew Gray wrote:
> (Examplar: is it "web two" or "web two point oh?" It's a term pretty
> much everyone will encounter in text long before in speech, and I
> noticed at a conference last year that there was a fairly even divide
> - and pretty random distribution - between which way people parsed
> it...)
I guess it makes me some kind of eccentric to be saying "web two point
zero." :-)

Ec

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