We live in a text-heavy culture with a fairly high literacy rate. However, every now and then I run into this problem: I’m speaking with someone, and there’s a word I want to use, but I don’t know how to pronounce it. Sound familiar? (I’m willing to bet it does, especially if you are a voracious reader.)
Well, problem solved! I recently discovered an incredible online tool called Forvo. Its tagline is “All the words in the world. Pronounced.” And that’s exactly what it provides – you can look up a word, then click to hear the pronunciation. If the word has various pronunciations, multiple sound clips are provided, and you can see where the speaker is from. For example, there are seven pronunciations in English for the word vitamin, which is pronounced differently in the U.S. and U.K. For the word garage, there are fifteen sound clips, from people in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, and Canada.
Forvo also provides pronunciations in language other than English; it has over 100,000 pronunciations for words in English, German, Russian, Portuguese, and Tatar, and 50,000 pronunciations for words in Italian, Spanish, French, and Arabic. So the next time you want to use a word in conversation but aren’t sure how it’s pronounced, check out Forvo – it’s superb.