Listening with a Critical Ear Part 2

Evaluating audiobooks? Be sure to check out part one for pronunciation guides as well!

Here are some great resources if you want to check the authenticity of an accent or dialect. The phenomenal Speech Accent Archive from George Mason University’s Program in Linguistics is the first stop to tune your ear to the cadence of speech from any area around the world. You must give it a try! Just click on the world map in the link above and listen to a native speaker. Or you may search by language, and then choose a voice. For instance, when I searched for Afrikaans, I found the selections below:

afrikaans1, female, Virginia, South Africa

afrikaans2, male, Pretoria, South Africa

afrikaans3, male, Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa

There is also the International Dialects of English website, a project of Paul Meier, a leading dialect coach for theater and film. Or for audiobooks set in the UK, try the British Sound Library collection of the dialects and accents of England and Wales.

And to check pronunciation of English (and many foreign words), I like the online dictionary from Merriam-Webster, where you can click & hear the word spoken.

If you aren’t quite sure what accents and dialects are, take a look at this video from VoiceCasting that focuses on voice-acting for advertising.

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About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

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