#3,000,000

Dear Readers,

Have you seen our numbers lately? Forvo is nearing an important milestone by closing in on 3 million pronunciations on its site, and we can’t wait to hear what the 3 millionth word will be. Will it be a wild card out of the Pashto section? Or perhaps another ‘hello’ greeting us from afar? Here are our theories:

Theory 1: Merry Christmas – see our post from Most Pronounced Words of 2014. If statistics mean anything, our money is on some translation of yuletide well-wishing.

Theory 2: Happy New Year in Bengali – Holidays are always a strong contender, and the Bengali New Year is only a few weeks away. Plus, you have over 245 million people in Bengal- case in point.

Theory 3: Expletives – ‘Mierda’ seems most likely since it hits close to home and there are already 31 ways to pronounce it in Forvo, but perhaps a user from a far off country we will enlighten us with their translation of poop in one of the other 323 languages we host on Forvo.

horse15 copyTheory 4: A horse with a weird name – Does anyone know why racing horses have such odd names?

Theory 5: (Something involving a current event) As so much of what we search for online is in the moment, this is probably the strongest theory out of the five. But what the future will bring, who knows.

Those are some of our guesses – what are yours?

The Editors Behind Forvo

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Even though us at Forvo like to think of the site as a helpful reference in a time of need, we know that Forvo would be no help at all without its over 500 editors that generously volunteer their time to help share their native language with others. That said, we wanted to share an anecdote on one of our editors brought to us by a long-time Forvo user.

Alison came across Forvo four years ago while working as an audio book researcher in San Francisco – a place where “You can hear almost as many languages as you can find on Forvo”. Says Alison, “I can’t remember the first words I looked up on Forvo, but the first pronunciation I requested was ‘Ballechin’ in Scots.“

Since 2010, Alison has logged an incredible 11,264 visits on Forvo. “In the course of my work on hundreds of projects Forvo has been my constant companion. Every one of those pronunciations has helped an audio book narrator make sense and beauty out of the author’s text and the language being spoken,” explains Alison. “I provide links to Forvo pronunciations in my research sheets so audio book narrators can hear audio examples of the non-English words they will be speaking during recording. Phonetic pronunciation instructions only go so far; with examples from Forvo, narrators can hear the sound of a word, its rhythms and tones. There’s no replacement for sound.”

But one editor went above and beyond in helping Alison. While researching Japanese for James Clavell’s “Shogun”, Alison struck up a correspondence with editor usako_usagiclub, who had pronounced many of the words she requested. Even after Alison insisted she compensate her for her many contributions, usako_usagiclub refused. Instead, she suggested that Alison make a donation to Forvo, which Alison then did.

“Forvo’s editors are a tremendous fount of language expertise; many talented and interesting people contribute to the site; it’s been my great pleasure to meet some of them. Some of the wonderful editors who’ve provided me with assistance, education and interesting conversation over the years are Lilianuccia (Italian), silviaparisini (Italian), Pat91(French), spl0uf (French), Thonatas (German), Bartleby (German), Frankie (Hungarian), findelka (Hungarian), tasc (Russian), gorniak (Polish), mmieszko (Polish), BridEilis (Irish)….along with some dedicated users, as well — too numerous to mention!”

Fashion Week 2015, Pronounced

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 Photo: Peter Duhon

At Forvo, we think everyone should be able to understand and be understood. As part of Forvo’s redesign, we will soon be debuting a new feature that will allow users to create and share lists. So not only will users be able to hear and pronounce names like a native speaker, but be able to easily share their own created lists among whomever they wish.

As a preview of what’s to come, we’ve put together native speaker pronunciations of some of the designers showing at NY Fashion week this week. Stay tuned for developments on this feature and others at Forvo.com

2014 in Pronunciations

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Well readers, our annual list of most pronounced words is now out a month overdue, but better late than never.

Besides being a curiosity to look at, the following lists tell us something about our time and place. What we wonder how to pronounce usually lies outside our cultural and linguistic territory and requires a desire not only to understand, but be understood. Whereas a list of most searched words ranks the importance placed on certain events, people, and things, a list of most searched pronunciations ranks what events, people, and things are being most talked about across borders. Therefore pronunciations tell us something about foreign influence – who’s influencing who, and how. Considering all this, one thing is certain: the way we communicate will never stay the same.

Most Pronounced Words
1. 야동; Korean – “erotic movie”
2. Philae; Greek – Former island in Nile River, ESA comet lander
3. Sláinte, slàinte, sláinte mhaith; Irish Gaelic – “good health.” Common toast
4. Backpfeifengesicht; German ¬– “a face badly in need of a fist”
5. Hygge; Danish – “cozy, well being”
6. Massacre; English
7. Reign; English
8. Skål; Swedish – “cheers”
9. Hiraeth; Welsh – “home sickness”
10. Phoque; French – “seal” (and homophone of the f-word in English)
11. Y’all’d’ve; English – “you would have all”
12. Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia; English – “fear of the number 666”
13. Saudade; Portuguese – “nostalgia or yearning”

Most Pronounced Expressions
1. Invictus Maneo; Latin – “remain unvanquished.” Heard on American television series, “Person of Interest”
2.Μολὼν λαβέ; Greek – “come and take them.” Slogan of campaign against gun control in the United States.
3. Eppur si muove; Italian – “and yet it moves.” Allegedly uttered by Galileo before the inquisition.
4. Alba Gu Bràth; Scottish Gaelic – “Scotland Forever.” Slogan in Scottish campaign for independence.

Most Pronounced Places
1. Port Láirge; Irish Gaelic – Irish city known for Waterford Crystal
2. Bethlehem Ephrathah; Hebrew – biblical place and personal name
3. Conshohocken; Unami – “pleasant valley.” American city and brewery
4. Basel; German – Swiss city and seat of Basel Committee on Banking Supervision

Most Pronounced Brands
1. Roshe Run; English – from “roshi” title given to a Zen master. Nike sneaker model
2. Tous Les Jours; French – “everyday.” South Korean bakery chain
3. Veuve Clicquot; French – “Widow Clicquot.” French champagne brand
4. Keurig; Dutch – “neat, elegant.” American coffee machine brand
5. Peugeot; French – French automotive company
6. Arc’teryx; English – from “archaeopteryx,” earliest bird. American clothing company
7. Au Bon Pain; “good bread here.” American café and bakery chain
8. Audi; Latin – from “listen.” German automotive company

Most Pronounced Food
1. Sufganiyot; Hebrew – from word “sponge.” Pastry eaten during Chanukah
2. Chia Seed; English – trending health food
3. Pizzelle; Italian – from “pizze” meaning round and flat
4. La Bûche de Noël; French – “yule log.” Christmas cake
5. Gruyère; French – type of cheese
6. Glühwein; German – “glow wine.” Traditional Christmas beverage

Most Pronounced Translations of “Merry Christmas”
1. Swedish – “God Jul
2. Finnish – “Hyvää Joulua
3. Romanian – “Crăciun Fericit
4. Welsh – “Nadolig Llawen
5. German – “Fröhliche Weihnachten
6. French – “Joyeux Noël
7. Italian – “Buon Natale
8. Icelandic – “Gleðileg Jól
9. Croatian – “Sretan Božić
10. Danish – “Glædelig Jul
11. Afrikaans – “Gesëende Kersfees
12. Scottish Gaelic – “Nollaig Chridheil
13. Polish – “Wesołych Świąt
14. Spanish – “Feliz Navidad

Most Pronounced Names
1. Josué; Portuguese – “Joshua” (likely refers to football player Josué Pesqueira)
2. Quirinius; Latin – Governor of Syria in biblical times
3. Hughes; English – (your guess is as good as ours)
4. James Hozier; English – Scottish diplomat and politician (1851-1929)
5. Deirfiúr Bheag; Irish Gaelic – “little sister.” Appears in books by author Nora Roberts.

Forvo’s New Years Resolutions

This week’s blog is dedicated to everyone who took time out of their day to tell us what we were doing right and what we can improve on. From all of your thoughts and comments, we have a lot to keep us busy in 2015:

1. Redesign Forvo
2. Create a better way to organize and search for words
3. Make Forvo more fun

I’m excited to share that we have a few projects in the pipeline that will tackle these points and will change the way you currently use Forvo. First we are incorporating your comments about Forvo’s look and feel to roll out a new version of Forvo. Like you, we think Forvo should be straightforward and easy to use. Second, we are working on a new “lists” feature where users will be able to create lists of words, and share them publicly or with selected users. This will go a step beyond the “Category” feature, which doesn’t allow you to filter words by language, or create lists to share or use later. Third, we are brainstorming and using your suggestions to visualize how Forvo can realize its potential as the foreign language community it was created to be. We want to enable users to be able to connect with one another all over the globe through language.

We have a lot of work to do, but we can’t wait for what 2015 will bring.

Oh yeah, 4. Stop eating all the gominolas at work

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A Better Mobile Experience

Forvo is a project born in the age of desktop computers so we have always lacked of a true mobile navigation. Furthermore, some features, as the recorder, are not really useful in the mobile environment due to background noise, abuses, etc. so we filled those gaps thanks to our mobile apps.

Last year, we finally made the audio player compatible with mobile devices and now we are releasing a better navigation and adapted content for them too.

There is still much work to do in the mobile space but we will keep improving it so you can use Forvo wherever you are.

mobile forvo rwd

Better search results

Along with improvements in search results for both words and pronunciations we have added more ways to find the words you want.

First, maybe one of them most requested features: search for translations. When you search for a simple word like ‘house‘, ‘fish‘, ‘love‘, etc. we will show in the sidebar a new tab called ‘Translations’. There you can find that word translated into more than 40 languages, in the appropiate script of the language and with a Forvo pronunciation.

See an example: House translations.

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Second, search in categories. Now you can search in the categories gathered in Forvo, almost 100,000 at this moment, so you could easily words related to ‘music‘, ‘cities‘, etc. Ideal to learn to pronounce words grouped by topics.

New projects powered by Forvo API

As a great ending to this terrific year in Forvo HQ, we are happy to announce two big new partners who are using Forvo pronunciations. Both are leaders in their languages:

Youdao Dictionary is the largest dictionary in China with more than 300 million people using their Apps.

youdao

Hiztegiak Elhuyar is the number one Basque dictionary and translator.

elhuyar

Welcome on board and thanks for counting on us.