05 May 2005

How to speak Turkish with an Adobe Acrobat accent

OK, this post has nothing to do with natural history, but I’ll make it fall under “and such”.

Did you know that Adobe Acrobat 6.0 and higher versions have a feature called “Read Out Loud”? It’s under “View” or you can use the combination Shift+ Ctrl+V (to read the page you are on). It does a pretty good job of reading basically any English text. But what about other languages? To find out, I attempted to read out loud a Turkish text, and expectedly, got unintelligible gibberish. The reason is simple: Acrobat reads the text as if it were English, although in reality, the pronunciation of Turkish is as different from English as a crow is from an alligator (there is the connection with natural history). Furthermore, Turkish uses several characters that are not in the English alphabet, and which Acrobat can’t recognize.

The solution I came up with was to rewrite a Turkish text as phonetically as possible using only English characters. It took many trials and errors to get not only the sounds, but also the accents right. If you compare the proper Turkish text with the pdf version, you will see that I had to break apart several words and use commas in unusual places so that the accent would fall on the right syllable. Here is the Turkish text followed by its translation.

Merhaba, benim adım Aydın Örstan. Ben Kastamonu’nun bir köyündenim. Size kısa bir maymun hikayesi anlatacağım. Bilirsiniz, maymunlar akrabalarımız olurlar, sizin ve bizim. Bir gün bir maymun güzel bir bahçeye çıkmış. Bahçede çiçekler varmış, güller ve papatyalar. Karşısına bir de bir insan çıkmış. Maymun insana, “Sen de maymundun, ama kendini rezil ettin” demiş. İnsan da, “Biliyorum, bende ne maymunluk, ne de insanlık kaldı” demiş.

Bunu duyunca, maymun insanın omzuna çıkmış ve “Çok acıktım, yemek var mı? Bir az pastırma ve domates istiyorum. Bir bardak da bira ver, lütfen” demiş. Ne kadar akıllı bir maymunmuş.

Hoşca kalın.


(Hello, my name is Aydin Örstan. I am from a village of Kastamonu*. I will tell you a short story about a monkey. As you know, monkeys are our relatives, yours and mine. One day, a monkey went out into a nice garden. In the garden there were flowers, roses and daisies. The monkey also came upon a human. The monkey said to the human, “You used to be a monkey too, but you have made a spectacle of yourself”. The human replied, “I know, now I am neither a monkey nor a human”.

When the monkey heard this, it jumped up on the human’s shoulder and said, “I am very hungry, is there anything to eat? I want some pastirma* and tomato. Also, please give me a glass of beer”. What a smart monkey it was.

Take care.)

The phonetic version of the Turkish text saved as a pdf file is here. To listen to it, first, download it, then open it with Adobe Acrobat, and then make Acrobat read it out loud (don’t forget to turn on the speakers). It basically sounds like a native English speaker speaking Turkish with a heavy accent. But it is understandable to native Turkish speakers; it sounds funny, though. It can be improved further, but it already took too much of my time.

And what’s the point, you ask? Nothing. It was just a fun exercise.


*Kastamonu: a province in north-central Turkey.
*Pastirma: a delicious meat product native to Turkey and made by curing meat with spices.

3 comments:

Henry said...

Sorry, I did not yet listen to the phonetic version of this text, because I continually operate under the pretext of having spent too much time on my computer. But I would just like to say that I can certainly appreciate your "exercise" and I think that it can only benefit you and others in the long run.

Henry said...

I did it this morning, that is awesome. I didn't even know that Adobe would read aloud for you. I am certainly going to have some fun with that feature.

Henry said...

I cited your work on my latest post in which I converted part of a previous post on T.H. Huxley to pdf so that it could be read aloud.