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Uncover the secret of the Esperanto voice!

I started the course today and find the voice very pleasant to listen to. And I've heard all sentences were recorded with a real person. So, who is behind that nice voice? May we know? Will there be an interview in the future? :)

May 30, 2015



I completely agree! In the German lessons, the voices used are cringe-worthy, but I absolutely love the voice in our Esperanto lessons! swoon! haha!


Yes, I hate the voice in german course. I always fail in listening in that couse.


The female or the male voice? We didn't have any influence in choosing the voice as team Esperanto had, but I'm curious.


Die Stimme gefällt mir. Es ist nicht perfekt aber wie ein Lernender ich denke dass es gut ist. Ich konnte fast immer es verstehen wann ich den Kurs machte. Ich hoffe dass mein Deutsch nicht schlecht ist.


I've slacked on my progress in the German course so it's been awhile and I just remember the listening was the one thing I found frustrating. I plan to pick it back up once I finish the Esperanto course, and when I do, I'll make sure to touch bases and let you know!


I don't have a problem with the female voice - it's not perfect, but it works fine. I have heard a lot of bad things about the male voice and relatively few people that like it :-/


Well, I can tell you all I know, as the guy who lead the process from the Esperanto team. I talked with Duolingo about various ways to adapt a TTS (text-to-speech) system from Polish to get a satisfactory voice (which got surprisingly decent results except for a few edge cases), but in the end they wanted to go with a real human recording, which was fine by me!

They have an agency they use for recordings, so they asked them for an Esperanto sample and I was more than skeptical. Oh great, we're going to get recordings from an American beginner and this is going to be terrible. But ok, let's give it a try. I got the sample and was stunned. I can't even tell where this guy is from, it's so good. So, we approved an audition.

Then Duolingo asked me for 10 sentences to test his pronunciation. Ha, this will be fun. So yeah, I made up some of the hardest (yet realistic) sentences for him to say, often picking real sentences from the course. I threw the kitchen sink at him. I was curious what he might mess up. Got the audition recording. Perfect. I shared with my team and they were all so surprised and happy.

So, I gave Duolingo our approval and the rest is history. I'm really proud of our voice! But yet, I still don't know who he is. I'm pretty sure someday we'll find out. Esperanto is a pretty tight-knit community after all. :)


It never occurred to me that Duolingo has a specific agency.

Good choice, IMO the best voice on Duolingo, out of both TTS and real voices.


Wait a sec, who else on Duolingo is a real voice?


To my knowledge, Irish and Ukrainian. Possibly others I don't know about!


I thought the Turkish voice was using a real voice, too? I remember reading that the TtS system couldn't properly render the language, but I haven't followed up on it in a while.


Caveat: I'm not a contributor, and I haven't been doing Turkish regularly the last couple of weeks.

As far as I know, they went with a TTS. I seem to remember Selcen saying they were disabling the TTS for any sentences where it was poor. It also explains why, so far as I've noticed, everything has a recording on the Turkish course, and repeated word/phrases always sound the same.

I would say it's not a bad TTS, sometimes it sounds a little robotic but mostly it's fine, but I would be very surprised if it was a real person. I just did a couple of exercises in the app to have another listen, as the last couple of weeks have been mostly Ukrainian and Esperanto with a touch of Norwegian, and it confirmed my impression that it's a TTS.


How interesting! And so cool!! I really, really love how clear his voice is. I take Esperanto courses in other places as well (Lernu and Memrise) and even as a beginner, I just know that something just sounds wrong...if I can even understand anything being said at all!

I seriously heart Esperanto voice guy here LoL!! Thanks for putting him through the ringer to bring us the best voice possible! Have a lingot! =D


Thank you, CNDragn ! I'm trying to thank everyone individually for their compliment to me ;-)


Thank you for using a real voice, it is much better than TTS. I went through Spanish Duolingo and the TTS is not as good for learning. I can now understand a lot of what I hear on the street (Los Angeles) and in movies from Spain, and the way they slur/shorten their words is not the same as the way TTS slurs/shortens the words. TTS is surprisingly good and it was definitely better than nothing, but real human voice is at least 30% better in my estimation.


Saluton Chuck! Mi havas la plezuron malkaŝi al vi (kaj al ĉiuj Duolinganoj kompreneble) ke mi estas la "sekreta voĉo" registrinta la Esperanto-version de Duolingo :-)


Ĉu estas vera? Tre bona!


Jes, mi konfirmas tion! Dankon pro la komplimento ;-)


Ĉu profesie vi laboras kutime por agentejo? Tre senakĉenta voĉo, sinmalkaŝema kaŝemulo :-)


Ne kutime... Dankon pro la komplimento :-) Mi ne kaŝemis : mi nur ne konis la finan klienton ;-) Mi hazarde malkovris ke temas pri Duolingo!


Hehe! Do grandega surprizo! Dekmiloj da homoj aŭdados vian voĉon.

Nu, kaj kiel vi altkvalite registris? Mi scivolemas ĉar ankaŭ mi bezonas fojfoje kvalitan sonregistradon kaj ne plene sukcesas.

Mi ekzemple kreis tion ĉi https://youtu.be/-nQYo3GJABc Ĉar mi proponis tiun servon por ueaanoj (rektaj aŭ nerektaj) kaj antaŭpagis por ili (valoras 240€)

Se vi emas helpi iom pro via voĉo aŭ aliaj talentoj, eniru en la forumon por krei kaj kunkrei ;-) http://bit.ly/powtoon-forumo


Mi ne havas hejmstudion, do mi luprenis tiun de kolego, kiu estas soninĝeniero. Mi ne kompetentas pri tekniko :-(


You made me look for my microphone to test voice recognition.


Nice story! ;)

Does it mean that every time you add a new sentence to the course, the listening exercises are available only once the external agency sent back the audio track?


That's very interesting. I always thought the voice recordings were someone from the team working on the course.


That would take simply way too long and you have to also have very good recording possibilities (great and often very expensive microphones, rooms that are optimized for room acoustics a.s.o.), so that it makes sense that Duolingo has an agency for that.


I am pretty sure it's the voice of Cyrille. He lives in France and has Esperanto native daughters. Listen to him and give your opinion ;-)

Mi sufiĉe certas ke la voĉulo estas Cyrille. Li loĝas Francie kaj havas du denaskulinojn. Aŭskultu lin kaj opiniu ;-)

Informu 1 000 000 da personoj pri Esperanto: http://youtu.be/n5DQ4IyqvHU


Whoever recorded it is perfect. A beautifully clear and pleasant voice. Such a positive change from the TTS voices on other courses, which often leave you wondering if you've misheard what was said. Thank you to DuoLingo for hiring him, and thank you to the Esperanto Team for a great course!


Thank you, jal ! I'm trying to thank everyone individually for their compliment to me ;-)


It would be ace to find out who he is, even just to say thankyou to all the learners he's helped along the way.


Verŝajne vi pravas ke vi iam lernas kiun li estas. Sed mi demandis al si kiom multe da novaj samideanoj ni havos kaŭze de ĉi tiu kurso. Mi povas esperi.


lol im the 111th upvote :)


[eo]: Tre bela kaj klara voĉo! Certe estas de profesiulo. Ne aŭdeblas akĉento. Tia neŭtrala parolmaniero estas imitinda, kaj certe bona por la voĉkomparo post la beta-fazo.

Ĉu vi en la finaj lecionoj aldonos aliajn, ankaŭ inajn voĉojn?

[en]: Very beautiful and clear voice! Certainly of a professional. No accent to hear. A neutral pronounciation like this is good to imitate, and certainly good for the voice comparison after the beta-phase.

Will you in the last lessons add other, also female voices?


Ne, verŝajne ni ne aldonos alian voĉon... tiu, kiun ni havas jam bonegas. ;)

No, we probably won't add another voice... the one we have is already great. ;)


Hieraux aux antauxhieraux mi renkontis prononc-eraron, li erare prononcis "lia"-n kiel "la"-n, mi ne memoris cxu mi tiam raportis aux ne.


:-( :-( . Just ask Nils - native speaker in the third generation. He already made nice synchronizations of films with members of the you-know-family with four members and two native, äh, "speaker-inoj". Yes, I know, it's difficult to pronounce like this mystery professional, but just for a change... I hear their voices quite often, but not the other people doing the course.


Btw, the mystery professional is no longer a mystery... it's the user Fsoghomonian, who has posted in this discussion a couple times.


Dankon pro la komplimento, Andi_M !


Amuzulo, can you tell us, what sentences you've made to "test" his pronunciation?

  1. Lia kuracisto ne sciis la kialon por lia malsano.
  2. Li estis faranta stultajn erarojn.
  3. La lingvo de Ĉeĥio estas la ĉeĥa.
  4. Nia praavino daŭre uzas tiun praan kandelingon.
  5. La IJK okazas en malsama lando ĉiujare.
  6. Eĥoŝanĝo ĉiuĵaŭde.
  7. Ĉiam estas gufujo kaj dancejo ĉe junularaj renkontiĝoj de Esperanto en Eŭropo.
  8. Kial vi kontentis hieraŭ?
  9. En 1905 la unua UK okazis.
  10. Mia patro kutime laboras po kvardek horoj semajne.


You can hear Francis' pronunciation of these sentences here: https://www.voices.com/actors/fsoghomonian#bio


Thank you, qubist! Thanks to voices.com I was hired by Sawdust Media to play the role of the radio announcer in http://utopiapodcast.com/episodes/001-gladness/ !


Ĉi tio estas vere mirinda prononciado. Bela.

This is truly awesome pronunciation. Beautiful.


Thank you, ahblair ! I'm trying to thank everyone individually for their compliment to me ;-)


I was wondering the same!


I was curious about that too. I try to model my pronunciation after some of the better singers. In particular, I sing along with Persone and Kore as I drive. You can find quite a bit of good music here: http://www.vinilkosmo.com/


Same experience here. To me, recording is so good that I never let go sentence without listening twice or thrice.


Thank you, SheshanPatel ! I'm trying to thank everyone individually for their compliment to me ;-)


Thanks to everyone for the compliments about my voice :-)


Three years late but I love your voice! I especially like it when the tone of your voice matches the subject of the sentence. It's a nice change from the robotic voices in the French course.


Thank you, NickLaCascia ! I'm trying to thank everyone individually for their compliment to me ;-)


Yes, the voice is very good. I really wish all duolingo courses could use human recordings. Then I wouldn't have to go "Do they really pronounce that word like that, or is the TTS wrong?"


Thank you, crlight ! I'm trying to thank everyone individually for their compliment to me ;-)


Hi. I'm sorry for being three years late to this, but god damn. Thank you, Esperanto-speaking gentleman, because your voice is like liquid chocolate with honey mixed in. You're the best.


No problem, ashsilv : it was worth waiting that long to read your kind compliment! Thank you so much! Greetings from Lisbon where I attend the World Esperanto Congress 2018

[deactivated user]

    I was thinking maybe it was Luis Jorge Santos Morales at first, but his voice is a bit deeper, so perhaps not. Though he could've changed it for this job, like a voice actor. [EDIT] Ha, I should've read the entire thread. It's Francis Soghomonian. Way to go, man! You also have a very lovely voice. :D Perfect for a language course.


    Thank you, HealyHQ ! I'm trying to thank everyone individually for their compliment to me ;-)


    Also check out the songs he did on YouTube :).


    Dankon, LaPingvino ;-)


    Absolutely. A virtually perfect voice (clear, neutral accent, easy to listen to) for language learning. Excellent choice by the authors of the course.


    Thank you, JimDawdy ! I'm trying to thank everyone individually for their compliment to me ;-)


    To me it sounds like he has a slight Italian accent.


    Maybe, but unless Esperanto is your native language, everyone who speaks it has an accent. Actually, even if it was your native language, your parents probably spoke it to you in their accent, so nobody really would have an "Esperanto accent," which is pretty cool when you think about it!


    You can definitely detect different accents in Esperanto. The Kurso de Esperanto which is made in Brazil seems to have definite Portuguese accents. There is a podcast with a German speaker who seems to have a bit of a German accent. If you listen to China Radio International, some of the announcers have accents- usually they have trouble with the "n" ending. However, Jianping has excellent, nearly accentless Esperanto, and is a pleasure to listen to.


    I know, I was just saying that when it comes to Esperanto, everyone has an accent, which is one of the very unique quirks of Esperanto.


    The thing a lot of English speakers struggle with is rolling their r's


    TJLawJX, you might consider working on a rolling R in the back of your throat. That's the kind I use as a Dutch person (although I think most Dutch people actually still roll their Rs further forward).


    Right! Coming from East Germany, we don't have that sound in our language whereas people from the South are normally able to pronounce the rolling r correctly.


    Oh yeah, the r's are very hard for me. I've had my tongue pierced for 19 years now. The piercing completely gets in the way while trying to roll the r.


    Yeah, but the thing Italians struggle with is the "th" sound in English, because in Italian, the "t" is silent. So it's really interesting to see how each Esperantist pronounces the words.

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