Phonetic Spelling: Help a VO out!

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There is a very good chance this article may simply be “me venting” veiled in the guise of “me helping” but alas I continue.

Fortunately, my workload is ever increasing a fact about which I will never complain.  But with that comes new challenges.  One that has stood out recently is having a clue how to pronounce words that I have never seen much less heard before. ie Ocala.  A city name I think.  The client was great and while I doubt they will read this post, if they do I hope they do not think I am attacking them.  This is just a good example of a word the client knows like the back of their hand and anyone outside the area may very well have never heard before.  Its a simple word but realistically I think you could say OH-Cal-UH or OH-CALL-UH.  Both options are very possible.  So what I am driving at is do your best to phonetically spell or even just rhyme any words that have even a slight chance of being mispronounced.  “But Ryan who has the time to do this for every possible problem-word?” It plays out 1 of 2 ways.

1. You do not write phonetically.  The VO may see a problem word, stop and send an email for confirmation (which delays everything the time it takes emails to travel back and forth – minutes, hours?)… or The VO reads it wrong.  You then go into editing only to find after 30 minutes of work that the second to last word was said wrong.  Send an email.  Wait for response.  Hopefully its done right the second time but regardless, your workflow has been halted.  Email turnaround, while fast with me and others, can be still be 10 minutes, 1 hour, or MORE.  Now after a 10 minute to infinite delay you are back at work to fix what could have been done long ago.


2.  While writing you take the extra 10 seconds/word to write out phonetically what might be 3 or 4 total problem words.  There’s an extra 40 seconds of your time.  Your workflow as the producer is not halted and the VO is happy knowing they DID  the whole project properly.

The other part of this is how to actually write out pronunciations effectively.  I have found this is also VERY subjective.  Some people think the A in Zebra is “UH” and others would write “AH”  or “A”- to me its obvious that “UH” is right.  Again really think about how the word is actually said and put those letters together the way a 2nd grader would. OR just RHYME it!   “RHYME”  (sounds like TIME).  Done.

Something from Wikipedia to support the whole “Subjective” nature of this.

“Diarrhoea” is pronounced DYE-uh-REE-a

… “UH” instead of “a” at the end, right?

I should stress SO much that I have been the victim AND an evil-doer with this.  As my VO career has increased I am certainly trying to do everything I can to help….trying.

3 thoughts on “Phonetic Spelling: Help a VO out!

  1. I usually will send along an MP3 recording of me saying the word correctly, along with the script.

  2. You’d like my program director he always spells the weird one phonetically. He also listens before he goes into editing. Of course he also is our early morning host so he is well aware of the need to pronounce something correctly. 🙂 Great post.

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