Text-to-Voice Japanese Study Aid

As an advanced Japanese speaker, I am even now frustrated at

not being able to pronounce kanji combinations that I see for the

first time. In most cases, I need to ask a native speaker or spend

time counting strokes and locating characters in my kanji dictionary -

which means in most cases that it is too troublesome, and I never

really get around to memorizing the words correctly. I notice this

most when trying to read Nikkei Shimbun articles or similar texts

that are outside my immediate area of expertise.


So I was excited to run across a very good Text-to-Speech engine

this past month when visiting the DevLearn08 conference in San Jose

where I gave a speech on international e-learning programs. The engine

is made by Neospeech, and on their website you can paste in up to

200 words of text for immediate playback. Check it out - but be sure

to choose the smooth-sounding "Misaki" for Japanese, because the

male voice named "Show" (!?) still clangs like a robot. 


Now when I run across something I can't pronounce, I copy/paste a

short section of text (about a paragraph) and have Misaki-chan read it

back for me. Kind of like a personal tutor - although I have to get the

meaning from somewhere else. I have tested it with difficult place names,

technical terms, katakana catchphrases, etc. and my Japanese

colleagues also confirm that it passes with flying colors. Give it a try!


They also have English (which seems fair enough - but my ear for that is

probably more critical), Korean, Chinese, and Spanish on the site as

well. If anyone can provide any input, I would be interested to know

whether the accents are natural for those languages as well.


For those out there that want to hear recent news in English, I suggest

you check out the website of my daily newspaper the International

Herald Tribune (IHT). There you can automatically play the audio for

any article right there on the site - although again to my ear the English

is a bit stilted...

jeffjapan at 19:21コメント(0)トラックバック(0) 


Louis Vuitton in Paris

ea6e2c18.jpgOne of my favorite pictures that I use in my

seminars is this one. I took it on the Champs-

Elysees in Paris in the spring of 2004. I use it

to illustrate the understanding of what a brand

is and why some companies like LV - by driving this understanding

throughout their organization, even to the level of using creative

materials like this to cover a shop renovation in progress - are

able to generate such amazing gross profit on their products. 

I can't claim to know for sure that this was the first construction site in

the world to "brand" their coveralls in such a way, but I do know that

in Tokyo this kind of site design started showing up only in the 2005-

2006 timeframe. And still now, most of the sites here still use just big

blue sheets with 安全第一 and the JV partner names emblazoned

on them. 

Think about the creative spark here - what a billboard! And while I

was there on a slow Tuesday, I was surrounded by about 30 tourists

standing around me taking the same shot - from their conversations I

could hear that they came from Korea, China, Eastern Europe, South

America - all over the world. Now that's brand communication!

jeffjapan at 08:21コメント(0)トラックバック(0)