Listening With a Critical Ear part 1

I’ll be posting evaluation tips for over the next few days for those of you who are listening to audiobooks with a critical ear. One challenge for both listeners and narrators is determining correct pronunciation of words. On my old Audiobooker blog, I had a request for resources to check the pronunciation of names, with a focus on online sources with sound files – from one of my favorite audiobook narrators, Kate Reading, whose reading of The Host is a top title in my library. Here are some quick tools to use when checking the accuracy of an audiobook narrator’s work – or for your own use!

Pronunciation Guides for personal & commercial names:

Voice of America’s name pronunciation, with quick & easy sound file search:

From Inogolo: English pronunciation of the names of people, places, and stuff. This site has sound files, which take awhile to load:

Name web search:

From the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). These are not sound files, but have easy-to-follow phonetic guides:

The ABC Book, a pronunciation guide to commercial names:

Say How? A Pronunciation Guide to Names of Public Figures:

How to pronounce children’s & YA author names (sound files recorded by the author!) from Teaching Books:

Place name pronunciation guides:

Merriam-Webster Geographic Dictionary print edition is a great resource:

Or try the place name at Merriam-Webster online to see if there is a sound file:

Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online: a subscription database with sound files, which may be available through your public or academic library:

Oxford Dictionaries Online’s “Ask an Expert” – send your question via this link!

Sometimes the best option for a place name is to call the area’s public library and ask for the pronunciation!

Try this site to find a local library in the US:

Or this one for library websites from around the world:<–>



Posted in: Audiobooks
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About the Author:

Mary Burkey is a National Board Certified teacher-librarian in the Olentangy School District in Columbus, Ohio.

8 Comments on "Listening With a Critical Ear part 1"

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  1. We actually have a whole research department dedicated to checking these things out. Sometimes its simply contacting the author, but sometimes resources like those outlined above are necessary. Some of the most interesting research stories I’ve heard about involve searching for the proper melody for an old, obscure folk song mentioned in a book.

    We get a monthly report from the research department, and the next one that features a children’s book, I plan to feature on the blog. It really is interesting all that they go through to get the right narrator and get all those details right!

    Great post, Mary! (Did you really post it at 4:33 AM??)

  2.' Rob the Librarian says:

    Nice post, thanks. For pronunciation in many languages including English, try . Very nice site with small clips and, if you are conversant in a particular language and want to help, you can add to the database.

  3.' Rob the Librarian says:

    RE: post #2 – Oops, it seems the angle brackets did not allow the URL to display properly. Another try:

  4. Mary says:

    Yes, Jennah, I really did post at 4:33 – Yikes!

    And thank you so much for the great pronunciation site, Rob! I am adding that to my list of great tools!

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