Friday, November 27, 2015

accent training

There's this thing I do, lately, with my cell phone. I open the Google Translate app, switch to a particular language—Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Turkish, Korean, French, whatever—then I activate the microphone-input function and try saying phrases in those languages to see whether my accent is clear enough for the phone to understand me. If yes, then the phone renders my spoken words into written words on the screen while translating them, and I feel a certain level of cheerful vindication.

In Russian, I say:
"Nyet, nyet—ya dumayushto nyet." ("No, no—I don't think so.")
"Ya ni zuma zheychi." ("I'm not crazy"—which Chekov says in "Star Trek 3.")
"Lenin slushayet muziku." ("Lenin listens to music.")

In Spanish:
"Las cucarachas entran, pero no pueden salir." (Ren & Stimpy: that horse)

In Japanese:
"Watashiwa Americano sensei-desu." ("I'm an American teacher.")
"Arigato gozaimasu!" ("Thank you.")
"Doi tashimashitae!" ("You're welcome.")
"Itda takemasu." (Said before starting a meal.)

In Turkish:
"Sanchok güzelsin." ("You're beautiful.")
"Cinema egitmek istermisim?" ("Want to go to a movie with me?")

In German:
"Immer muß man sehr aufmerksam sein." ("One must always be attentive.")

In Chinese:
"Ddeuy buchi..." ("Sorry.")

In French and Korean:
Assorted. Too many to list or to count.

Google Translate's voice-recognition software is a useful metric for how clear my accent is. If you're bored and want to see whether you speak bits of a foreign language understandably, give the above exercise a try with the various phrases from different languages that you know. Keep in mind that the software isn't perfect: there were French phrases, for example, that I pronounced perfectly but that produced weird results. This was true for both short bursts of foreign-language output and for much longer utterances.

Have fun!



Bratfink said...

This is so interesting that I posted the link to the post on FB for my relatives who speak Foreign languages [mainly French]. Thanks BH!

Kevin Kim said...


Bratfink said...

Heh. I see what you did there.