Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pronunciation – Help!

I just installed Lingea Lexicon on my new computer. It’s an excellent Czech English dictionary that I’ve used for several years as it is fast and includes what I imagine to be useful examples. For instance, thanks to Lingea I know the correct preposition to use - "o", should I need to ask someone to shout for help. “Křik pro pomoc”, the literal translation, probably wouldn’t get me as far.

Of course, even knowing that I should use “o” and “pomoc” together is no guarantee that anyone would understand me if I yelled “křik”. It has the ř in it, that devilish letter that twists my tongue about and renders my speech unrecognizable unless I’ve had lots of practice on a word, or simply learned the way that Czech lispers get around it. So when I saw in the Lingea installation package that I could add a pronunciation option using only 6 more MB of hard drive space, I said “báječný nápad!” - “super idea!”, and hit go.

Five minutes later and installation complete, I typed in “křik” and looked for the pronunciation button. No sign of it, so I clicked over to the English translation, found the button and confirmed that “shout” spoken by a British man can sound very dull indeed. English to český, Czech to anglický, after a few more dictionary flip floppings I had to conclude that yes, there was pronunciation for all English words, but no, there wasn’t any for Czech. It is, after all, a phonetic language. And if just anyone learned how to say “křik,“ how would one know the Czechs from the foreigners (or lispers) among us.


Karla said...

Yes, why can't Lingea figure out that we want pronunciation too? But I'm also running into its other limitations now. I thought it was so great at finding every root word from what I typed, but only some of the time. And heaven forbid that you might leave off an accent!

Julia said...

So true about Lingea. If it doesn't find a word (because I don't know the right combination of accents) I often try www.slovnik.cz as it is much more forgiving. For roots I found a pretty cool etymology dictionary at Luxor, on Vaclavak.