Google language

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Google wants to help you pronounce ‘macabre’ and other tricky words

For millions of South Africans, English is their second, or in some cases third or fourth language. As a result, they might struggle with the pronunciation of certain words.

Google language

Image via Pixabay

Google search’s latest experimental feature will come as a welcome relief for South Africans. The search engine will be helping us to pronounce words.

Up until now if you’ve encountered a word you don’t know, Google would be able to get you the definition. However, figuring out how to pronounce the word was your own problem.

Language in South Africa

For millions of South Africans, English is their second, or in some cases third or fourth language. As a result, a lot of their vocabulary would have been picked up from reading.

While it’s easy to add words to your vocabulary by just reading more, figuring out how to pronounce those new words so that you’re comfortable using them in conversation is a whole other kettle of fish.

Even in our schools, it’s not uncommon to have English teachers for whom English is not their first language. As such, it’s very hard for anyone trying to improve their language skills to do so.

How can Google help?

Google is looking to help with this problem, which isn’t just a South African one.

Anyone trying to learn a language has had to deal with the frustration of trying to figure out how to pronounce words that are spoken very differently to the way they’re spelled.

In addition to helping us pronounce words we’re struggling to say, Google will also be adding images to their dictionary and translation features.

This should help users better understand and remember the words they’re searching.

How does it work?

The fascinating part of the new experimental pronunciation feature is that not only will Google be giving us audio clips to help us learn how to pronounce the words that are tripping us up, but it will also let us practice them.

So in the example given by the Google team: if you’re struggling to pronounce asterisk, you can ask Google how to say it. You’ll be provided with an audio clip that you can listen to.

You’ll even be able to slow the audio down if you’re struggling to say the word. Once you’ve heard it a few times, you’ll now be able to practice saying the word.

Speech recognition technology will then compare what you’ve said to the actual pronunciation of the word, and it will give you feedback on how to improve your pronunciation.

At the moment, the new feature is only available for American English pronunciation. However, Google says that they’ll be rolling it out for Spanish soon as well.

Google hopes to roll the feature out to more accents and languages over time.

Also read – Google launches five experimental Digital Wellbeing apps