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.
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.
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.