Sunday, November 16, 2008

Forvo: the pronunciation guide

Do you learn foreign languages and want to improve your pronunciation? Are you a journalist an need to check how to pronounce unfamiliar names and places? Or may be you are a linguist and research dialects and accents? If you answer “yes”, visit Forvo. If you answer “no”, well, visit Forvo anyway, just to have fun.

Forvo is a social pronouncing dictionary. Social means that users can add new words to the website and contribute pronouncing. The idea is to put together all words in the world pronounced by native speakers. Forvo has launched in early 2008. By that moment, there are 113.780 words with 55.928 pronunciations in 196 languages and more than 5000 collaborators in this project.

Everyone can add the word and request native speakers for pronouncing, everyone can record pronouncing and submit it to the site. You do not need to be a registered user to contribute your records, but registered users get more features at Forvo, like tracking your words or notifications and getting a rating. Languages are also ranked by popularity (English is a leader, Russian, my native language, is on the15th place).

Forvo offers nice features and tools:

  • Geolocation – each user can map his accent (Google map’s interface)
  • A special flash applet for recording, so you do not need any additional software to record your pronouncing
  • Tags and search engine to make the work with the site easy and comfortable.

Like any social project, Forvo is a nice place to collect raw data and analyze it. For example, Forvo developers publish top search words and other interesting statistics regularly on their blog.

I personally want to thank Forvo for the brilliant idea. I’m the happiest Forvo user as I learn foreign languages, I’m a journalist and linguist. Definitely, forvo.com tends to appear at the top lines of my frequently opened pages.