Karaoke-like software to speak Norwegian like a native
March 18, 2013 12:33 AM   Subscribe

Is there any software out there which can give me feedback on rhythm, timing and flow for language learning? Karaoke for Norwegian speech patterns?

Norwegian is my latest language, and I acquired it late in life. Norwegian has a sing-song quality which for me has been elusive to acquire. In fact, despite speaking it daily in both business and social settings my speech has a 'sawtooth' quality. I have also gotten feedback that I take insufficient time for pronouncing individual words. This makes my voice boring and less impressive than it can be.

I will seek the assistance of a voice coach, but inspired by this fascinating question: is there software to learn language patterns?

This software would load a reference set of words and sentences and compare them against my pronunciation with some sort of visual feedback, like an infernal union of a karaoke machine and a language CD.

I am thinking about :
- for words: load a large list of words, record (or download) their 'best' way of pronouncing, record 'my way' and get visual feedback on length and pitch
- for sentences: load a sentence, preload a wave form (or whatever) and pronounce this sentence like a Norwegian, with the right sing song effects included. For example the daily news on Grieg piano music.

Other tips for cracking this tough nut are welcome.
posted by Eltulipan to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I had Rosetta Stone for Danish, and it had a speaking mode where you could hear an utterance, speak it and be recorded, and the spectrograms would be compared (probably by some easy distance metric, nothing language-specific) to give you a grade on your pronunciation.

You could wire up a similar comparer in Matlab in a reasonable time, I think.


Have you tried Chinese-learning resources? Won't help with the prosody an ort, but maybe will help with the variedness of intonation -- and there are probably more Chinese-learning resources.

I mention this because apparently Swedish falling-tone and Chinese falling-tone are similar enough that having a Swede pronounce the word for 'lynx' will get 'road' in Chinese, and I imagine Swedish / Norwegian tonalnesses aren't too different.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:16 AM on March 18, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks. Rosetta Stone does not support Norwegian, just Swedish and the tonalities are different. Wrt to Chinese tonality: I'll park that idea for now, fascinating as it is. I'd say this would be a good idea for a mobile app (no royalties! I will be the beta tester).
posted by Eltulipan at 1:49 AM on March 18, 2013

Hey, I'm learning Norwegian too! (Beginner though.)

The closest thing I've found to what you're looking for is an iphone app called WordUp. It has a "record" function similar to Rosetta Stone's where it compares waveforms. Unfortunately, it uses a speech synthesizer to pronounce the words. It's not half-bad for what it is and does attempt to mimic the pitch accent, but obviously a bot-voice may not be too helpful on the sawtoothiness front. The recordings include all the words in the dictionary + simple sentences. I've been pretty impressed with the app overall and think it's worth checking out, but YMMV as it seems like you're essentially fluent.

Interesting suggestion wrt Chinese-learning resources. I found the tonality easy to pick up and have wondered if it's because I grew up speaking Chinese with my parents. I'm just not sure when to use which tone. For me, the hardest part by far has been listening comprehension, since I'm trying to learn it while living in the U.S. Waiting for osmosis to magically happen via a daily dose of NRK radio doesn't work, apparently.
posted by amillionbillion at 11:35 PM on March 23, 2013

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