OK, it has been years since I had to do with french and I nearly forgot all of it. But I really have a hard time to understand the voice at some times. Even if I use the slow version or see the text.
So, is the voice sometimes really that bad here (like in German or Spanish) or have I just forgotten how French is pronounced?
The french voice is indeed sub par and we’re working on either getting a new one or improving the current one a lot :)
The main words I'm having difficulties at the moment are:
"Il mange" <=> "Ils mangent" (can hear no difference here)
"aiment" (sounds like "m" to me, completely different then on leo.org e.g.)
There are even differences in the "normal" and "slow" pronunciation. I just had a sentence where the normal version the word "La" was pronounced "La". But the slow version pronounces that word as "Lest" or something like that.
For German (my mother tongue) such "errors" can lead to some confusion but nothing more. For Spanish (some years experience but still some kinks to be worked out) it can be a nuisance but most of the times the slow version can help here. But with French (newbie with some old experience) such things can really be frustrating, as to many of such cases in a lesson quickly eat your "hearts" up.
@grantangi For "il mange" and "ils mangent", there is no difference by sound. You'll need a context to tell them apart. If you get it wrong because of this, make a suggestion with the link below the answer, and tell them that this excercise needs either more context or accept plural AND singular answers. "aiment" or "aime" are indeed pronounced like the letter "m".
I agree that normal and slow versions are sometimes different, and it'll only confuse beginners, I hope they will be able to solve these problems. And "la" should be pronounced as the letter "a" in French, never like "les".
@ClassicBookworm: I agree, the French computer voice isn't very good. In my opinion, it's a lot better in Spanish and German. Perhaps it's because the correspondence between spelling and sound is more regular in Spanish and German than in French.
@ grantangi You're right, but there is a problem : French users like me go through exercises much faster, and therefore they don't see as many bugs or malfunctions than beginners. When I see a mistake, I always make a feedback, but there is also people who don't care about that, and are only here to try it a few minutes. That's why it's gonna be much faster if beginners also make feedback. Every time you think you should be right, think about it, translate it on the net, and if you're sure about that, you make your feedback. If you don't know what must be changed it doesn't matter, just provide you sentence. If you're right they will find a way to correct it.
The voice isn't bad, but it's not that good either. Sometimes I have to use the slow version to understand, even though I'm French... Sometimes words are chained too fast for a real person, and sometimes the pronunciation is not so great. But if I would have to rate it, I'd give it a 7/10, 10/10 being a real French person talking.
I find some words are not very clear (almost like she's hiccuping sometimes), but overall I think it's ok. The way she pronounces "lettre" is weird to me, sounds like "littre", but maybe it is pronounced that way in some places. Also, on a related note, I'm curious to know if the word "jean" is really pronounced the way she says it? Almost sounds like she drops the "j" sound altogether (and then hiccups her way through the rest of it).
The word "jean" when it's about pants, is pronounced like in English (but with a french accent for most people :p, so it goes more like the english word "gin" in the end ^^). For the "lettre" word, I think I heard the same as you did, and no, it's not pronounced as "litre" in French. The first "e" in "lettre" should be pronounced the same way as the first "e" in the English word "letter".
Ya, I find the computer voice in French is not very good, often mushes words together (worse than in Spanish), sometimes mispronounces things, and I usually can't tell the difference between singular and plural. I can only guess which form to use from the sentences that appeared previously. If I'm having trouble, having studied French for years, I hate to think what a beginner makes of the computer voice. It's definitely a work in progress.
I was wondering if the accent was Canadian but my French is not good enough to tell.
I wonder how much content might there be needed in some cases. Taking e.g sentences like "Elles mangent le riz" compared to "Elle mange le riz" or "Ils aiment bien le camping." compared to "Il aime bien le camping.". Just by hearing the sentences I could not decide which is which. Would you agree that for such sentences a "larger" context would be necessary?
The problem I see is, that as a beginner it is hard to tell, if it is possible to correctly answer the question or if more context is needed. That is probably a job for the French speaking members, as they have the experience to find such subtleties. Beginners, like myself, will probably find the questions more helpful.
@grantangi: In case of 'Ils aiment bien le camping' you should be able to hear a difference: the 's' of 'ils' is connected to the 'ai' of 'aime' . 'il aime' doesn't have the 's'. Try to pay attention to that.
@angiedaytripper No, the accent is definitely continental/Parisian. Not a hint of Québecois.
@wataya - Thanks, I will try to catch such differences in the future
@Arjofocolovi - I think you are right, that not everyone wants or knows how to give feedback. I'll probably will be queueing with the others beginners at the question booth, if I have doubts about some of the sentences or words, to let the French-speaking users either confirm the problem or slap me on the head and show me what I missed ;)
@naut - Good to hear that the stuff is working on it. It that context, what would be a good or helpful way to give the stuff feedback in cases where the voice is wrong or broken?
I actually used to speak quite good French. I studied it at university forty years ago and I am finding the voice really hard to cope with. Much harder than the German or Spanish.