Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Say It Right is a guide to pronunciation for Singaporeans

English is a horrible language to learn. While it has rules governing grammar, spelling and pronunciation, it also has more than its fair share of mysterious exceptions to those rules. Take pronunciation for example. For some reason, salmon is pronounced without the 'l', Tottenham is pronounced without the 'h' and the Magdalene in Magdalene College is pronounced 'maudlin'.

Fortunately, the Straits Times has released a new app to help hapless learners of English. Say It Right is a collection of words that are frequently mispronounced in Singapore. Click on a word to hear it pronounced by someone with a local accent.

The app also features English As It Is Broken, an online resource by STOMP that has questions and answers about English grammar.

The app is definitely a step in the right direction. There are just a few minor complaints. The pronounced words sound like they were recorded using a cheap microphone and there aren't many words in the database at the moment. In addition, the entry for envelope is misleading. The entry provides a definition of "envelope" as a noun but features an example of the word used as a verb in the past tense.

This is a problem because when envelope is used as a verb in the past tense, the stress is on the second syllable (eg, darkness enveloped the room). When used as the noun however, the stress is the first syllable (eg put the letter in the envelope and send it off).

Say It Right is free. Download it here.

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