Major overhaul of single-syllable audio

As some of you might have already noticed, we have uploaded newly recorded audio for all single-syllable words in the new apps (that’s the Android app and Skritter: Write Chinese on iOS) This includes all individual character readings and single-syllable words. This audio update will also be coming to the website in the future once we update to the v3 endpoint for vocabs.

Since the recordings for single characters is used very often, we thought it was worthwhile to go through all of them and make sure both pronunciation and audio quality is good throughout. It’s now also consistent, with all audio being recorded by the same person, Xiaolu, who has recorded for Skritter before and ought to be familiar already.

If you’re using the new apps and notice any single-syllable audio that is wrong in some way or where the quality isn’t top-notch, please let us know so we can fix it! I have manually listened to every single recording, but since there are about 1600 of them, errors could have slipped through.

For the curious of you out there, there are roughly 400 syllables in Mandarin, which leads to 1600 combinations if each syllable can be pronounced in all four tones. Naturally, that is not the case; there are plenty of syllables that can only be pronounced with three, two or even one single tone. Rather than trying to keep track of these, we recorded all of them. Thus, this really should cover everything.

For the really curious, we also grabbed a list of all single-syllable items listed with a neutral tone in Skritter and recorded those. This is a bit tricky, because neutral tones usually don’t exist in a vacuum and can’t really be produced naturally without context, but a shorter, lighter pronunciation is used instead, somewhere slightly above the middle of the tone range.

Enjoy the new audio!


HI Olle,

I don’t want to ruin your party, but purely out of curiosity why didn’t Skritter bought some male and female voice audio files. In the meantime Skritter could have built functionality that made it possible for us to choose between listening to a male or a female voice. :thinking:

As is often the case with good stuff (and I agree that providing more audio is good, of course), it’s a matter of priority. We offer manually recorded audio for tens of thousands of words, but there are actually lots of words that don’t have any audio or where the audio was recorded a very long time a go with inadequate quality. So we naturally prioritise recording new audio or replacing bad audio over providing alternatives for words where we already have audio of high quality!

Yes Olle I totally agree with you, it’s always a matter of priority. But no one dares to tell the management that recording 1600 single-syllable items is a waste of time if you also can buy them with the same (or even beter) quality.

Aren’t we talking about different things here? How the audio is acquired is probably a separate discussion (and in my experience, having done this more than once, is not as easy as it sounds) from whether it’s worthwhile to add alternatives to already existing audio. The added utility for users of having high-quality audio for common words is orders of magnitude higher than having alternative, male audio. That doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be sweet to have additional audio, but it means it probably won’t happen while there’s still a backlog of vocabulary that has no audio or low-quality audio. But maybe you meant something else?

Glad to hear.

By the way, when is the new app going to include the sound for individual characters within words, as exists in the legacy app?

The new app is oddly silent!

This is a much missed learning opportunity both for extra aural practice (repetition, repetition, repetition) and especially for practice distinguishing between how characters are intoned on their own as opposed to how they are intoned within a compound.

Please make Skritter natter away at me again. Going silent is going backwards.