Why are pronunciation guides so important?

Why are pronunciation guides so important?

We’ve already talked about the importance of creating a great voiceover script and how a project hand-off can be handled in a seamless fashion. 

There are many elements to both of these processes, all of which are central to their success. But one that features heavily in both is the importance of pronunciation guides in producing top class voiceover work. 

Why use a pronunciation guide?

Localization providers generally aim (excluding highly specific non-native voice talent projects) to only use voiceover artists who are native language speakers to ensure the best quality final output, but this doesn’t mean they will be familiar with every word in every script. 

For example, if you are creating a video advert for the Chinese market, but are an English company, your company name, and products or services for that matter, are unlikely to directly translate. Complex terminology and acronyms can also be problematic.

This means your firm should create a guide detailing advice on how the word or words should be pronounced. Best practice is to list the term and show how it is pronounced by sounding out the syllables. A style guide can also be included to ensure the appropriate voice delivery is used. 

Consider an audio pronunciation guide

For more complex, technical and scientific words; including an audio file for each term is advised. The files can either be pre-recorded by the client, a client associate familiar with the product and market, or by the chosen voice artist, and then reviewed and signed off by the client. These audio files don’t need to be professionally recorded in a studio. Instead they can be recorded simply by using pretty much any sound recorder or a PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. The aim is to establish the correct pronunciation of the term, not to blow the client away with the production quality.

Prevent against embarrassment

While top quality translation services will be carried out by subject matter experts, the same cannot always be said for voiceovers. For example, if you are making a video about a new pharmaceutical drug, it’s unlikely you’ll come across a qualified doctor who moonlights by doing a bit of voiceover work on the side, hence, the need for a pronunciation guide.

To conclude

Nobody wants to be left embarrassed (or worse still, liable) after signing off on audio that contains mispronunciations, as every file or video scene with a mistake will have to be rerecorded. As well as delaying launch, unnecessary retakes are also expensive and can see budgets pushed to breaking point. It’s easy to prevent against this, so don’t leave yourself exposed.

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