As a native Dutch speaker, I would like to help with voice acting
Duolingo helped me with learning new languages and I know foreign people who are really helped by the Dutch course. So I started to try it and I was shocked by the voice acting.
The Greek course also has text-to-speech voices and I have started to get used to them after almost 2 years, but the Dutch voices crack a lot. Which brings me to my question:
If I want to help with voice acting, as a volunteer of course, who do I contact? I'm from nearby Amsterdam and have fully 100% Dutch roots, so I would love to help!
I don't want to ruin your idea, but I think it is almost impossible to achieve technically.
You would need lots of separate recordings for every sentence in the course. Or you need to speak gibberish with all the sounds in Dutch in every position/combination and a programmer needs to cut the sound snippets into a text-to-speech software.
You need a perfect "standard Dutch" accent and a very clear voice. Most people don't have a voice that can work on audio projects like these. For voice acting you actually need a trained voice. Also a perfect articulation is required to make sure sounds don't get too much whistle (like /s/) or cracks (like /R/). Intonation is also a problem because it's mostly a personal thing.
You need professional recording equipment and a studio/audio cabin. Any background noice would be very disturbing in a sentence learning context.
You can always try to ask if you could help, but it would take a lot of time and effort (technical stuff, practising sentences, recording time...)
It's not possible, I'm afraid. The Dutch course uses Text-to-Speech (TTS) software to generate its audio. There are some other courses with recorded audio, but this is only done when no TTS is available for the language. Perhaps some mixture of TTS and recorded speech (for sentences with bad TTS) will be possible at some point in the future.
I appreciate the offer to help, though!
what is TTS ? is it a software that can read any dutch text aloud ? i don t trust such software and i would prefer recorded audio!
Yes, that is correct. This software is a service provided by Amazon. And you are right not to trust it, because the pronunciation is far from perfect.
However, the benefits of using this software are far greater than the harm done by an occasionally mispronounced word. It means we can freely add new sentences to the Dutch course, without dealing with recording equipment. As Annika mentioned above, doing high-quality sound recording is not easy. And there are tens of thousands of sentences in the course, as well as a few thousand individual words. All of this would have to be done by our team of volunteers. Instead, we prefer to spend whatever time we have on improving the course in other ways.
That is completely understandable. I have done voice acting in the past, so I know how much time it can take. But your reasoning is clear. Thank you for replying.
Text-To-Speech technology uses snippets of speech. You need high-quality recordings of every possible sound in Dutch. Then you use technology to create program that reads the letters and chooses which sound snippets you need to stick together to create speech. With this program it's possible to pronounce EVERY word or sentence in Dutch you can imagine.
A famous example of TTS is GPS. If you're driving it's impossible to have a person pronounce every street on the planet. The reason Dutch audio isn't as good as English is only because there are more English speakers so also more reasons to develop the English TTS-technology (more clients means more money).
Create a script.
Record yourself doing relevant exercises.
Organize and edit the recordings into chapters that make sense for any autodidact language student.
(Add a narrative and some music.)
Publish each of them in a podcast series of your own. You will surely make somebody happy.
have a look at what you can still do through Forvo.
I have never bothered with listening to the course voices - even the Dutch people I talk to don't recommend it. When I learn words, I just go to Forvo. They have soundbites of multiple people and it helps you get an idea of what the pronunciation is.
You can also contribute to the site without professional equipment - if you are interested in that.
That will be cool I think you should try to get the number of Duolingo and ask them good luck with that