Looking for pronunciations of US city names
May 7, 2013 1:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a source - either paid or free - that can provide pronunciations of US city names.

By that I mean all/most cities within the US or least those covered by USPS. I realize this might not be feasible so even a source with partial coverage would be welcome. I'm primarily looking for US English pronunciations, although would be interested in investigating any pronunciations with accents, particularly US Spanish.

Spoken pronunciations would be great but textual/written pronunciations (either "phonetic"or with a specific phoneme set) would suffice. Both audio and textual would be ideal (although I'm guessing unlikely).
posted by zorm to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you tried Forvo?
posted by dywypi at 1:33 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Easy to get audio pronunciations. Just google the name of the city and add the word, definition. First item up (at least on Chrome) is the phonetic spelling and the audio symbol for the recorded name.
posted by zagyzebra at 1:34 PM on May 7, 2013

Wow, Forvo! One of the coolest things I've ever seen.

If you're OK with searching each city individually, Wikipedia does a fairly good job with this. EX: Chicago, Seattle, St. Louis. The pronunciations are almost always spelled out in IPA phonetics and sometimes accompanied by an .ogg or .wav audio clip of someone saying it out loud in US English. In addition, here's a list of American cities with counterintuitive pronunciations.

Hope this helps!
posted by divined by radio at 1:45 PM on May 7, 2013

This is Wisconsin-centric, but check out MissPronouncer.com. The creator is a reporter for Wisconsin Radio Network.
posted by Madamina at 1:53 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

You must have been reading the LA Times this morning!
Not specific to cities, but pretty relevant.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:57 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for the answers so far. I'll investigate these.

To clarify a bit, I'm look more for a comprehensive (or partially) collection of data that can be manipulated programmatically in some form on my end. In others words a flat directory/file structure, database file or a source that can be scraped (for example). Typing in individual city names is not what I'm after. My apologies if that wasn't clear. I'm looking at several thousands/tens of thousands of cities. Thus I'd be fine with paying for a source that can provide this. It's possible this source doesn't exist but I just thought I'd clarify the issue.
posted by zorm at 4:16 PM on May 7, 2013

Wikipedia is good but not comprehensive. For example it does have a pronunciation for Lancaster, OH which covers the non-standard local way of saying that city name. It however does not have one for Versailles, OH which is definitely not pronounced like the place in France. The article does mention the local difference of its name but it does not give an IPA for it. The same is true for Russia, OH. Man, Ohio has some strange city pronunciations.
posted by mmascolino at 6:11 AM on May 8, 2013

Drat. Sorry to have been of zero assistance, OP. I've only seen pronunciation guides available in individual-city format, rather than a flat file containing thousands. This sounds like something you may have to custom order, unless USPS themselves has something they could give you.

mmascolino, fun fact: Both Versailles and Russia, OH are on the aforementioned list of American cities with counterintuitive pronunciations. The fact that Russia = "ROO-shee" blows my mind -- that must be like Ohio's version of Manhattan's Houston = "HOW-stun."
Here in Wisconsin, we can tell who's an outsider by the way they say Waukesha, Menomonee Falls, Oconomowoc, etc.

posted by divined by radio at 6:37 AM on May 8, 2013

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