Monday, June 29, 2020

Placename Pronunciation Maps

Traveling in Wales can be difficult for non-Welsh speakers. For example how exactly do you ask for directions to Llanfairpwll-gwyngyllgogerychwyrndrob-wllllantysiliogogogoch. If you also have problems pronouncing Welsh placenames then you might appreciate Map Llais.

Map Llais is an interactive map which provides audio recordings which allow you to hear how you should pronounce the names of towns and villages in north-west Wales. If you click on any of the map markers you can listen to how the name of the selected town or village should be pronounced.

Map Llais uses sound recordings uploaded to Wikimedia. The map doesn't entirely answer my question about the pronunciation of Wales' longest placename. The map uses the shortened version of the town's name, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, and therefore only provides the sound recording of this shortened form.

There have been many interactive maps created over the years which have been designed to help you pronounce placenames. In the past I've linked to maps with sound recordings of Māori placenames, Canadian placenames and even a global map of placenames using sound recordings from Forvo, the online pronunciation dictionary. Unfortunately none of those maps are still active.

The only other map I know of which helps you learn how to pronounce placenames correctly is the Squamish Atlas. The Squamish Atlas is an interactive map in the Squamish language. On the map all the map labels are written in Squamish. The mountains and waterways are in Squamish, the islands and villages are all in Squamish and the landmarks are in Squamish.

If your Squamish is a little rusty then you can click on the placename labels and the map markers to find out how to pronounce the name and to learn what it means in English. Many of the Squamish names and markers on the map have audio files attached which allow you to hear how the word should be pronounced correctly.

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