The thing is, I don’t know how your Icelandic is, but mine’s non-existent and I found a control on that site to read text aloud.
Then yesterday I came across the exact same feature on the website of the Horowhenua District Council.
I selected some text and a tiny control appeared where my cursor ended up. I clicked on the control to expand it, as seen in my screenshot above.
As the voice reads the text individual words are highlighted in blue. The control includes pause and stop buttons, a volume control, a gear icon to bring up options, and a download control. Choose to download and an mp3 file appears on your computer.
Click the Options control — the gear icon — and a scrollable window appears where you can finetune the functions. Settings include text highlighting, scrolling and reading speed.
I imagine the Council has selected the overall options it wishes to use, such as the volume and which functions to offer. I noticed the Icelandic page didn’t have a volume control, for example.
Also, language is hugely important, as the selected voice needs to be able to correctly pronounce the language. An Icelandic voice would undoubtedly attempt to pronounce English as Icelandic, while an English voice would render Icelandic into the worst conceivable mishmash of schoolchild language mockery.
It has taken a long time and is still a work in progress, but the New Zealand ‘human’ voice is gradually changing in just this way. A visitor the other day told me he lives at
Pram. It was a shock to hear — a kind of flashback to the 70s really — as a large number of people now correctly pronounce Māori placenames such as Paraparaumu, at least roughly right.
Try it with your Mac’s voices sometime if you don’t know what happens. [See System Preferences — Dictation and Speech — Dictation. Don’t use a Mac? I expect Windows and Linux can do the same.]
My only complaint is that there doesn’t seem to be a New Zealand English voice available. Since the language we speak in New Zealand incorporates a large number of Māori words, whether names of places and people or just vocabulary items, the renderings of text into speech are sometimes bewildering.
I imagine that will change over time, once a New Zealand voice becomes available.
The other thing to note is that you don’t have to select any text. The page has a control at top right that simply reads the whole page aloud, leaving out such tedious features as navigation.
Bonus: a righteous speech about why we Kiwis should take the trouble and show respect by at least trying to pronounce Māori words correctly.