Some of the more interesting language tools I’ve come across recently are text-to-speech (TTS) systems that allow users to type in words, phrases, or any old block of text and have a computer voice spit it out at them. This type of system has come a long way since I saw WarGames for the first time. As you can see with Roger Ebert’s “new voice,” mimicry is getting awfully close to the real thing.
One site that I’ve been spending way too much time monkeying around on is SitePal. It’s a pay service that allows users to design their own TTS avatars for websites or business purposes. Lucky for us poor Spanish students, they have a free demo that is more than enough fun to waste several hours on.
The demo allows users to enter text from several different languages, including Spanish, and have that text read by a computer avatar. You can choose from various male and female voices, including some interesting regional variations: Latin American, Mexican, Castilian, Chilean, and Argentinian. Currently I’m fixated on the last one, an Argentinian voice named Diego. I find it stupidly entertaining to hear him pronounce “ll,” as in “Me llamo Diego.” But what is more exciting is the possibilities such technologies hold for students wishing to work on their own pronunciation.