Category Archives: Languages

January’s most searched for words – Zika Virus, Revenant and Conchobar

Although there can be exceptions, the words people look for on Forvo tend to reflect news  stories that are currently making headlines around the world.

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With the Zika virus now topping 1.5 million cases worldwide, in January 2016 users have been trying to find out how the disease is pronounced.

Meanwhile, we’re well into awards season with the Oscars just around the corner and this is reflected on Forvo too. Twelve-time nominee The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has been one of the most requested pronunciations this past month and the film’s director Alejandro González Iñárritu has also been a top requested name.

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Also hitting the headlines in January was One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson after it was rumoured that he would be naming his baby son Conchobar. Requests on Forvo to hear how the Irish name is pronounced went through the roof. Despite this, the singer later released a statement to say he had finally opted for the easier-to-pronounce Freddie.

The weather is always a big talking point and making the news in January was the Welsh village of Eglwyswrw. As well as its less-than-easy-to-pronounce name, the village made headlines as it became the wettest place in the UK with rainfall detected for at least 83 days in a row.

Sometimes however, even the team at Forvo is at a loss as to why people want to know how to pronounce words. A couple of recent examples of this are the German word ‘Pickelsausen‘ and the Danish word ‘nørøxe‘. Calling all Danish and German speakers – we’d be really interested to know why these two words have been trending lately on Forvo. Any ideas?

Answers please to info@forvo.com or tweet us @forvo.

 

 

Introducing Forvo’s new Android App

We’re really excited today at Forvo HQ about the release of our new app for android phones.

The app, which is available for download on Google Play, lets you listen to, learn and record pronunciations of words in over 325 languages.

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With an ever increasing amount of traffic coming to forvo.com via mobile devices, we wanted to make the Forvo experience on mobile phones as good as possible. Regular Forvo users will note that much of the website’s functionality is now available through the new app.

Here are some of the new app’s great features, which you can also see in our video below.

 

Features:

* Search for words and listen to word pronunciations from native speakers

* More than 3.5 million pronunciations available

* Compare different accents for the same word

* Listen to male or female voices

* Keep track of your recently listened to pronunciations

* Works with your forvo.com account

* Record pronunciations in your native language and help fellow learners

* Learn to pronounce properly in over 325 languages

* Powered by Forvo, the largest pronunciation guide in the world

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Don’t worry Apple fans, we’re also working on an updated version of our iPhone app and will  release it in the coming months.

As ever, we’re really keen to hear what you think about the app, so if you have any questions or comments about the new app please contact us at info@forvo.com or on Twitter @forvo.

Bowie, Snape and Saoirse trending on Forvo

Forvo is such a fantastic tool for language learners that it’s often easy to overlook its usefulness as a way of measuring the impact of breaking news as events unfurl across the globe.

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The week started with the terrible news of David Bowie’s death at the age of 69 following a battle with cancer. David Bowie has since been amongst the top searched for terms on Forvo. This is likely to be because of the general lack of consensus over how the singer pronounced his surname. Indeed, it seems the man formerly known as David Jones wasn’t averse to speculation over how his name was pronounced either, judging by some of the interviews he gave over the course of his glittering career.

Another sad piece of news this week was the untimely death of British actor Alan Rickman. For many, he will always be known as the enigmatic Severus Snape from the Harry Potter films. Indeed, although Alan Rickman trended on Forvo for a while, it was the term Severus Snape which became one of the most searched for items on Forvo this week.

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A week of devastating events was compounded with the news that singer Celine Dion’s husband René Angélil had lost his cancer battle. This led the former music manager’s name to become a top search term on Forvo.

Amongst all the sad news, there was time for frivolity with the hotly anticipated Oscar nominations being announced. Twelve-time nominee The Revenant has not only caught the imagination of the academy but it also seems to have forged a desire to know how it’s pronounced. The word ‘revenant‘ has featured among the top searched for terms on Forvo all week. The film’s director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, has caused many an awards presenter pronunciation woes as has his fellow Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan. The Irish actress has been hitting headlines following a string of chat show appearances during which she helped the hosts get to grips with the pronunciation of Irish names.

In politics, the Spanish media got into a fluster over how to pronounce Carles Puigdemont, the new President of the Generalitat of Catalonia. And special mention must go to the Welsh village of Eglwyswrw. Not only did its residents endure the longest stint of consecutive rainy days in almost a century, the locality also caused many a news presenter a pronunciation nightmare.

 

 

Most pronounced words of 2015 on Forvo

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Forvo.com’s annual list of the most requested pronunciations of the year is now out and it provides a fascinating insight into how we lived in 2015.

Amongst the online pronunciation guide’s lists this year we can see the global influence of BBC TV series Dr Who (the word Raxacoricofallapatorian) as well as a reflection of political and world events. Words such as the acronym for Islamic group Daesh, French publication Charlie Hebdo or the Greek political party Syriza are also present.

Technology features heavily with words like Chrome, Whatsapp and Airbnb being frequently requested. Other words in high demand were Emoji and Selfie.

As well as the curiosity factor, Forvo’s lists tell us much about the year 2015’s place in history. The words users search for usually tend to lie outside their own cultural and linguistic territory and display a human desire not only to understand, but to 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 a good deal about international influence — who’s influencing who, and how.

Most Pronounced Words of 2015

1. Chrome; English — Google internet browser

2. Sprout; English — A newly grown bud

3. 鬼島; Mandarin Chinese — “Ghost Island”. Refers to Hashima Island, an abandoned island off the coast of southern Japan. The island was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2015

4. Audio; English — A recording of acoustic signals

5. Raxacoricofallapatorian — Pertaining to a fictitious alien species which features in the BBC TV series Dr Who

6. Google — American technology company specializing in internet-related services

7. Apple — American multinational technology company

8. Schedule; English — “A plan for matters to be attended to”

9. Sláinte; Gaelic — “Good health” Common toast

10. Dysania; English — A state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning

11. Whatsapp — cross-platform instant messaging service owned by Facebook

12. Airbnb — A online service for people to list, find, and rent lodging

13. Charlie Hebdo; French — A French satirical magazine

14. Daesh — Acronym for Islamic fundamentalist militant group

15. Squirrel; English — A rodent

Most Pronounced Names

1. Michael Kors — New York-based fashion designer

2. Simon Kjær — Danish professional footballer

3. Wojciech Szczęsny — Polish professional footballer

4. Friedrich Nietzsche — German philosopher

5. Tommy Hilfiger — American fashion designer

6. Ricky van Wolfswinkel — Dutch professional footballer

7. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry — French writer and pioneering aviator

8. Paulo Coelho — Brazilian novelist

9. G-Dragon — South Korean music artist

10. Maroon 5 — American rock band

Most Pronounced Expressions

1. Je t’aime; French — “I love you”

2. Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani; Hebrew “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Biblical expression

3. Alba Gu Bràth; Scottish Gaelic — “Scotland Forever” Slogan used in Scottish campaign for independence

4. Awesome; English — “Something which inspires awe”, and a common slang expression in English, originally from America

5. Saudade; Portuguese — “nostalgia or yearning”

Most Pronounced Places

1. Leicester — English city

2. Camp Nou — Football stadium in Barcelona which is home to Barcelona FC

3. Edinburgh — Capital city of Scotland

4. Reims — French city

5. Hiroshima — Japanese city

Most Pronounced Brands


1.
Michael Kors — New York-based fashion designer

2. Whatsapp — Cross-platform instant messaging service owned by Facebook

3. Airbnb — A online service for people to list, find, and rent lodging

4. Viber — Instant messaging and Voice over IP app for smartphones

5. Ikea — Swedish furniture retailer

6. Roshe Run — Nike trainer model

7. Tommy Hilfiger — American fashion designer

8. YouTube — Video-sharing website

9. LinkedIn — Business-oriented social networking service

10. Instagram — Online photo-and-video-sharing and social networking service


Most Pronounced Food and Drink

1. Chia Seed — Trending health food

2. Chorizo — A type of pork sausage originating in the Iberian Peninsula

3. Gnocchi — Soft dough dumplings originating from Italy

4. Cucumber — A vegetable originally from Southern Asia

5. Cabernet Sauvignon — A variety of grape used to make red wine

Recording blitz

Sometimes those pesky words on Forvo can get ‘stuck’ in the pending pronounciation queue. It’s nobody’s fault and can be due to a number of reasons.

We noticed this problem was particularly prevalent with one of the languages on Forvo  – Hebrew, which had ended up with 11,000 words pending pronunciation. Quite a lot I think you’ll all agree!

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in order to solve the issue, we reached out to our Hebrew editors who explained some of the reasons which might be leading to this queue of words.

Forvo editor Inbal told us: “We have a unique situation as a language. On the one hand we have modern Hebrew as spoken today in Israel, for which the native speakers should only be Israeli born, or those who sound like them. On the other hand we have words coming from the Bible – we have many requests for those, names of people and places that modern Israelis don’t even know about, let alone how to pronounce.”

So what was the solution? After some cleaning up of the database, Inbal came up with the great idea of a recording blitz. She gathered together some of her fellow Hebrew users  (including her 80-year-old dad!) and they blitzed through hundreds of words over a weekend of frenetic Forvo activity.

Their reward? As well as making sure there remains a permanent record of their efforts and helping others to learn to pronounce – a fantastic Forvo T-shirt, as modelled by Inbal below.

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Well done to all our Hebrew editors who have done an amazing job!

תודה רבה!

What about your language? Do you find there a lot of words which are pending pronunciation? Have you got any great ideas on how to clear those lists? Send in your thoughts to info@forvo.com.

Thanks!

Forvo Team

 

And the award goes to…

…All of you! That’s right folks, Forvo was presented with a special award last night and it’s thanks to each and every one of you who takes time to contribute to Forvo and help make it the great resource that it is.

The award was presented to us by our friends at the Diaro Vasco newspaper as they celebrated 20 years of their website www.diariovasco.com.

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The ceremony was all about innovation, and we were given a special mention for innovation in the field of collaboration.

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Felix, one of the founding partners of Forvo, was presented with the award by Spanish stand-up comedian Luis Piedrahita who raised many a laugh on the night.

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Picking up the award, Felix said he wanted to thank each and every one of our collaborators and editors who help make Forvo great. Forvo wouldn’t exist without you and we are hugely indebted to all of you.

So raise a glass and here’s to many more years of making Forvo.com the place to pronounce.

Check out our presentation video below. With thanks to the guys at Diario Vasco and Teledonosti.

Phrases and Facebook

Hi Forvo fans,

Some of you may have already noticed that we’ve added phrases to Forvo. We wanted to help put into context all the words you record on Forvo and improve the learning experience.

In order to record a phrase you first have to record a word.

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Once you’ve recorded the word you’ll be given an option to record a phrase in order to put the word into context.

2-Pronunciation complete

Simply write your phrase and then record it! Don’t forget to add an intonation to the phrase (Happy, neutral, sad or angry). Remember, you have 5 seconds to record the phrase.

3-Pronounce My left sock is cleaner than my right sock in English

Once you’ve recorded your phrase you’ll be able to listen to it on the specific word pages.

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We’re constantly updating this new feature and we welcome all feedback, so please keep checking back for updates and improvements.

Facebook

We’d also like to inform all our users about our new Facebook page. You can like us and keep up to date with all the latest Forvo news at facebook.com/forvopronunciations.

Remember, you can also stay tuned to these developments and others by following us on Twitter: @forvo.

Language #325

Say hello to Luri, the newest language on Forvo. Luri is the language of the approximately 1.5 million inhabitants of Lorestan and its neighboring provinces in western and southwestern Iran. Luri’s reach as a language extends even further, since in some cities, parts of the Luri language are intermixed with Kurdish, and in other places Luri is mixed with Azeri.

A large part of the effort to add Luri to Forvo was undertaken by Sina, (loveiscoolandgood) who also helps edit Forvo’s Persian section. Sina, originally from Khorramabad, capital of the Lorestan province, moved from Khorramabad to a city outside of Tehran as a child. Though he grew up in an area that attracted immigrants from all over, he seldom heard Luri, the language of his paternal family, among the languages spoken.

Per Sina, his curiosity about his heritage and the “perhaps absurd urgency” to preserve it, made him take the action to have Luri added to Forvo. Sina has even created a community group on Facebook to connect Luri speakers around the world, with instructions on using Forvo to record pronunciations and words.

At Forvo we are grateful to cross paths with so many wonderful people that are passionate about languages. We hope to help play a part in preserving these languages, and to help others re-connect with their heritage. For more information on Luri, visit the new Luri page on Forvo and the Luri Community page on Facebook.Captura de pantalla 2015-05-11 a las 5.14.43 p.m.

#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 canğt wait to hear what the 3 millionth word will be. Will it be a wild card out of the Pashto section? Or perhaps another ”˜helloğ 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 — ”˜Mierdağ 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 ”˜Ballechinğ 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!”