Occasionally people tell me that I’ve said something wrong. I may not necessarily be offending them (although I have certainly been guilty of that), but pronouncing a word “wrong”. For the most part, I prefer to think I’m pronouncing the word “incorrectly for the region”.
It is well-known that Canadians and Americans say “out” and “about” differently. I’ve come across several other words that I need to watch when recording. Words such as premier, route, process, produce, adult, and organization, can be pronounced differently. Further, some words can be the same in certain parts of the States, but different in others.
Most importantly, as a voice talent, no matter where the recording airs, it needs to work for the client in their market.
Ideally, I receive “pronouncers” in the way of an audio file or a phonetic spelling. This is not to be confused with phonetic transcription – symbols representing a distinct speech sound. The phonetic-alphabet was created in the late 1800’s and not something people generally practice now. Spelling phonetically is not nearly as complicated. Writing out a word as it sounds, with the emphasized syllables capitalized, works well.
pizza = PEET-zah,
paleontologist = PAY-lee-on-TOL-uh-jist
program = PRO-gram
Often adding a rhyming word also helps: Mr. Right = RITE, rhymes with “kite”.
Occasionally, I will have to guess the appropriate version of a word because I have not been given direction and I want to turnaround the script as soon as possible. While there are several sites to find help, www.forvo.com is my “go to” site for quick regional pronunciations and proper names. However, as mentioned, pronunciations can vary from one State to another and therefore, it is always best to confer with a client, or if time is an issue, I will record more than one version of the same word. Dictionary websites are also great. However, I’ve found that the words are often pronounced in what I call the Queen’s English, which is often inaccurate for Americans.
The bottom line: it’s always best to include pronunciations – for words that may be up for interpretation – when submitting a script. And, while you may have guessed that I don’t like to be wrong (who really does?), everyone can always use a little help getting it right!