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Polyliteracy’s pet peeves re: audio-books

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
16 messages over 2 pages: 1
Zwlth
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 Message 9 of 16
07 August 2011 at 4:32am | IP Logged 
Volte: my list of outstanding German narrators includes:
Klaus-Jürgen Mad
Gert Westphal
Will Quadflieg
Christian Al-Kadi
Dirk Bach
Stephan Benson

There are others as well, but I'll have to search my memory banks to come up with their names.

Thanks for your updates as well. I'll keep posting names of good narrators here when I can compile a longer list.
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Zwlth
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 Message 10 of 16
18 August 2011 at 4:16am | IP Logged 
In my previous post about German NARRATORS, I wish I had included some more information, but I didn't, and now for some reason I don't see the usual "edit" button next to the "quote" one, so I will just have to add it here:

Klaus-Jürgen Mad - has a Viennese lilt; reads philosophy (Schopenhauer, Nietzsche) for Ascolto Verlag.
Gert Westphal & Will Quadflieg - read a wide variety of classical texts commercially available at Amazon.de
Christian Al-Kadi - available for free at librivox.org
Dirk Bach & Stephan Benson - from Audible.de

Now on to my impressions of some DUTCH NARRATORS, all of whom are available, for free, at libivox.org, which now has 125 Dutch audiobooks (or rather, audiobooks in Dutch, for again, there is an all too high proportion of translated English novels to original Dutch literature). The majority of these have been read by just three narrators:

The first two - Bart de Leeuw and Anna Simon - are just fine. Their voices and styles are not particularly exciting, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with them either, so you can easily get into the story itself.

The third narrator, Marcel Coenders, is in a class all by himself - whether in Dutch or in any other language, I've never heard anyone read quite like him.

On the one hand, he has a particularly pleasant tone of voice. I think there is a general consensus that Dutch tends to sound funny if not downright ugly, but he actually makes it sound pretty.

On the other hand, he reads with the same hypnotically slow pace all the time, so it is hard to catch the emotion of the story he is telling. Furthermore, he has the quirk of making very frequent, very short pauses. Sometimes he may read a full six word clause without a break, but sometimes he does this after every single word. On average   I would say   he does this   after every third word,   so that   listening to him    is like   reading this sentence.

On top of this, he enunciates very clearly, so, all in all, he is an ideal narrator for your first few Dutch audiobooks. However, I'm sure that native Dutch speakers (presumably his intended audience) must find him completely unlistenable.

While I myself initially enjoyed a few of his narratives, doing so helped me become advanced enough that I can simply no longer follow the story line his voice is recounting, and this is not so much because I find the style irritating as that my attention simply wanders off. But, in the process of trying to listen to him, I have made a fascinating discovery. I don't believe at all in subliminal learning, but I'll be danged if his voice doesn't have this kind of effect. If I try to listen to him read a story while I am working out, I'll loose the thread after just a few minutes, but if I let it play on while I pursue my own chains of thought, for the rest of the day I find that I hear his pleasant tone clearly articulating two and three word chunks in the back of my mind. I haven't had the chance to put this to the test yet, but I'll bet it can work wonders for one's pronunciation.

Well, this has gotten longer than I intended, but I just wanted to share that his narrations may offer a special something for learners of Dutch.
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Volte
Tetraglot
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 Message 11 of 16
18 August 2011 at 9:08pm | IP Logged 
Thank you, Zwith.

Sadly, the 'edit' button now disappears after ten days.

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Zwlth
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 Message 12 of 16
23 August 2011 at 8:50am | IP Logged 
Continuing with Volte's excellent suggestion for giving this thread a positive rather than a negative spin, on now to SWEDISH audiobook narrators:

In my experience, they are not particularly easy to come find. The only free source I know is Librivox, and they only have five full length Swedish texts, read by three different narrators. All of them are listenable, none outstanding, and I have to note that two of them appear to come from Finland and so lack the normal lilt one tends to expect.

Per Myrberg, however, who read some pearls of Swedish literature on cassette a few decades ago, was truly an outstandingly gifted narrator, well worth tracking down.

So, the best current source for good narration in Swedish that I know of is Audible.de. However, there is no search function for Swedish (I've written to them about this, but they say it is on the American end to fix that, and Audible.com won't answer me, maybe because I'm enrolled in Audible.de). So, you have to chance upon one book and follow links to the others, but there are over 200 there, mainly published by Earbooks AB and Word Audio Sweden AB (you can put these in the search term under Verlag). Most of the works are criminal thrillers and the like, but there are some better books, and in so far as the narrators are concerned, you can listen to a good 5 minute sample of each to find someone whose voice appeals to you. The best I've found thus far is Johan Rabaeus.
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carlonove
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 Message 13 of 16
29 August 2011 at 5:11pm | IP Logged 
Dutch narrator Jan Meng is hands down the best audiobook performer I've heard. His voices for different characters are distinct and entertaining, and his pace always reflects the tone of the story. Unfortunately, his recordings are mostly limited to children's books (Roald Dahl, Milne, Harry Potter) and the Tolkien books.

Moro Silo is an excellent narrator who does most of the Italian recordings for Audible and Il Narratore. Unfortunately these works are almost all heavily abridged. Nonetheless, his recording of Città Invisibili (sadly, also abridged) is what all audiobook producers and readers should aspire to.


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Zwlth
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 Message 14 of 16
30 August 2011 at 12:41am | IP Logged 
For Italian audiobooks, I heartily second the endorsement of Moro Silo as an excellent narrator. However, I would neither agree that he does "most" of the recordings (though it would certainly be nice if he did more), nor that most of what he does do is heavily abridged (his rendition of Svevo's La coscienza di Zeno certainly is not). Apart from his quality, though, indeed one good thing about him is that you can find him for free on Liber Liber as well as for a reasonable subscription price at Audible.

Only on Audible (to the best of my knowledge), and just as good as Silo or perhaps even better (question of taste - both are great narrators, that's for sure) is Claudio Carini, who renders many classics: Dante's Divina Commedia, D'Annunzio's Il Piacere, Italian versions of Omero's Iliade and Odissea, Svevo's Senilità, Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, several works by Pirandello, etc.

Not quite in the same league in my book, but still quite good, and with the virtue of being free on Liber Liber, is Serafino Balduzzi, who offers another version of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso there, as well as Boccaccio's Decameron.

P.S. There's some problem with the display of this post. I put "Italian" in all caps but it doesn't show up that way, and I also italicized all the book titles like I always do, but they don't appear as such. Sorry, don't know what I can do about any of this.

Edited by Zwlth on 30 August 2011 at 11:14pm

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Volte
Tetraglot
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 Message 15 of 16
30 August 2011 at 1:40am | IP Logged 
Zwlth wrote:
For Italian audiobooks, I heartily second the endorsement of Moro Silo as an excellent narrator. However, I would neither agree that he does "most" of the recordings (though it would certainly be nice if he did more), nor that most of what he does do is heavily abridged (his rendition of Svevo's La coscienza di Zeno certainly is not). Apart from his quality, though, indeed one good thing about him is that you can find him for free on Liber Liber as well as for a reasonable subscription price at Audible.

Only on Audible (to the best of my knowledge), and just as good as Silo or perhaps even better (question of taste - both are great narrators, that's for sure) is Claudio Carini, who renders many classics: Dante's Divina Commedia, D'Annunzio's Il Piacere, Italian versions of Omero's Iliade and Odissea, Svevo's Senilit횪, Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, several works by Pirandello, etc.

Not quite in the same league in my book, but still quite good, and with the virtue of being free on Liber Liber, is Serafino Balduzzi, who offers another version of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso there, as well as Boccaccio's Decameron.

P.S. There's some problem with the display of this post. I put "Italian" in all caps but it doesn't show up that way, and I also italicized all the book titles like I always do, but they don't appear as such, while my accented "a" has been changed into a Chinese character. Sorry, don't know what I can do about any of this.


The forum auto-corrects language names to have the first letter capitalized, and apparently to have the rest lowercase. This avoids irking some people who don't want to read improperly-capitalized language names, at the cost of reducing expressiveness and breaking anything technical which needs special treatment.

Italics need to be marked up, in the markup used by this forum - quote this post to see how.

As for the à, that's probably an encoding issue. Lots of factors can influence it, unfortunately.


Edited by Volte on 30 August 2011 at 1:43am

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Zwlth
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 Message 16 of 16
30 August 2011 at 11:19pm | IP Logged 
Thanks, but I think this is a purely technical issue. Looking at my previous posts, I tried to capitalize all the language names, and while I succeeded with DUTCH and SWEDISH, I failed with German and Italian (I just tried to capitalize all four again and they are fine in the preview - let's see what happens when I post it). Also, I know how to italicize perfectly well, and was able to do it in another post just a few minutes before this glitchy one (I've done it again now and it appears in the preview - let's see what happens when I post). As for the à, I already copied yours into mine and the system seems to like it better.


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