Hacker News in Slow Italian


137 points | by lakySK 16 days ago


  • lakySK 16 days ago
    Let me know in here if there is a particular language you'd like to see for this!

    Not gonna lie, the costs run in order of dollars per episode, so if you are keen on listening to this, let me know, otherwise it would be a waste of money :)

    • hugs 16 days ago
      I would love this for French. How do you want to handle modifying the code for other languages on GitHub? A new separate project fork per language, or a pull request to the current one? Slightly problematic that "Italian" is in the top level project name if it's going to be configurable for other languages.

      Also, add a tip jar somewhere so we can chip in!

      • loloquwowndueo 16 days ago
        In the meanwhile, try this to train your ear and practice French with current news using easy vocabulary (they do speak very clearly, worked wonders for me when I was learning).


      • lakySK 16 days ago
        Good question! Haven't thought that far ahead :D

        I'd be happy to rebrand it if there's interest. The main issue is that generating an episode is around $3 roughly (~$1 on GPT4 APU, ~$2 on text-to-speech). So doing a daily episode in multiple languages might be a bit costly.

        But if there's enough interest, I might be happy to fund it to get it going for a bit and see how it ends.

        • hugs 16 days ago
          For the free sample, maybe run it once a week on Sunday? (But gate the daily feed behind a paywall?)

          Either way, I'd be happy to fund a few weeks of a French version right now!

          • lakySK 16 days ago
            Those are not bad ideas and suggestions at all! Thanks!

            Let me see if I can get a French episode generated for you today or tomorrow and if you like it, I'm happy to send some more your way :)

            What is your level of French?

            • hugs 16 days ago
              I'm A1 in French and got there primarily with Duolingo, a little Pimsleur... and lots of beginner audiobooks. Also a fan of RFI's "Easy French Newspaper" daily podcast, but yeah, it would be so much more interesting to have a tech-focused version of the concept.

              On that note, another suggestion: Offering a mobile-friendly readable transcript to go along with the audio. (RFI does this.) Reading along with the audio is my preferred way to "listen" to French audiobooks.

              Also, presenting the transcript in a readable form is another way to gate content behind a log in and/or upsell. Of course, yeah, would rather it all be free, but your costs are real!

    • marcyb5st 15 days ago
      As a native Italian speaker I can tell you two things:

      1. The translation is great. I actually never used ChatGPT for translating content and this opens a new world for me.

      2. The text-to-speech is good, but less so than the translation itself. It still is completely understandable, but if you are a learner I believe it could cause some bad habits over time. For instance, at around the 30 second mark, the translation includes the word "immergervi" (immerse yourselves). The voice puts the accent on the 2nd "e", while it should be on the first one.

      Anyway, great tool. And I would help to chime in for different languages (trying to improve my Spanish). Put a tip jar somewhere as others suggested :)

      • lakySK 15 days ago
        Got a spanish episode generated. Let me know what you think :)


        • marcyb5st 13 days ago
          This is also great! Thank you. I can't offer in depth feedback on the text-to-speech as I am also learning Spanish, but definitely enjoyable and understandable! Also the technical jargon in Spanish is new to me, so I listened to at least few words I didn't hear yet!
    • KerrickStaley 15 days ago
      I would potentially pay for this in Mandarin, although I'd be wary of the quality vs human-produced sources.

      I often practice by reading sites like https://cn.wsj.com/, https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad, https://cn.nytimes.com/, or https://big5.ftchinese.com/. These are all text news sites so they help with reading comprehension and grammar but not at all with listening. I'm not aware of any similar audio sources, especially not ones that use professional-level language but slow it down so it's accessible to language learners. So you'd be in a unique niche.

    • ageitgey 16 days ago
      Would be really cool in Spanish!
      • lakySK 15 days ago
        Got a spanish episode generated. Let me know what you think :)


      • lakySK 16 days ago
        Ok, let me try and generate one episode for you when I get home. Curious to hear what you think afterwards :)
        • higgins 16 days ago
          i too would love to listen to a Mexican Spanish version
        • asveikau 16 days ago
          I'm guessing choosing a regional variety of Spanish to use could be fraught.
          • ricardobayes 15 days ago
            I'm sure you're already familiar with the following, but could be interesting for others. Spain (the country) has multiple official languages, one of them being the European Spanish called Castellano Spanish. This is what people refer to as "Spanish language". However there are others, like Catalonian, Galician, Basque, Valenciano etc. languages, which are also "Spanish", but not mutually intelligible with Castellano. These are completely different languages on their own, and interestingly, in the case of Basque, not even in the same family of languages.
            • asveikau 15 days ago
              Even sticking to Castilian, the regional accents and vocabulary choices could differ. You could pick a neutral Castilian accent from Spain, potentially alienating Latin Americans but I think this is often received OK if a little off. You could pick something that sounds like Mexico or Colombia, which are each common choices for things with an international audience. But then, say, an Argentine accent, to pick out one, would sound pretty different.
          • 35mm 15 days ago
            Madrid seems pretty safe
            • anthk 15 days ago
              No, thanks, "Madrid" as in "Madrith", nope. Better the Castillian one.
      • 35mm 15 days ago
        Yep Spanish Spanish (Madrid) please!
        • lakySK 15 days ago
          One Spanish episode going your way. Not sure it's Madrid Spanish, but should be decent hopefully. Let me know what you think :)


          • 35mm 14 days ago
            Perfect, thank you. Really impressed by the quality of the voice.

            Would love it if there was a way to connect to anki to start learning vocabulary based on the content of the episode.

    • CamelRocketFish 16 days ago
      This is great! I didn’t see an option to slow the playback down to 0.5 as 1.0 is still fast for a beginner.
      • lakySK 16 days ago
        Hm, good point. Perhaps I need to use a different podcast platform for that. Might look into that!

        Are you learning Italian as well? What have you tried so far?

        • CamelRocketFish 16 days ago
          Yep I’m also a beginner but I haven’t found anything similar to this project. In terms of learning materials I found classes that follow the CEFR system (A1, A2, B1 etc) have been more helpful than Duolingo and also this free resource https://www.languagetransfer.org/
          • lakySK 16 days ago
            If you want, DM me on https://twitter.com/LukasPlatinsky and I can send you a link to try a POC for a language-learning text adventure game. The main concept is to tell a story through conversations with NPC chatbots. Would be curious to hear feedback or any suggestions on how it could be graded to increase the complexity of the language over time.

            It's briefly mentioned on the site as well: https://hn.lingually.ai/#two

          • lakySK 16 days ago
            Heard great things on Language Transfer and started listening to it.

            I've mostly been doing Duolingo, recently some tutored classes on Preply. Trying to get to a level where I can converse with my Italian partner.

            And I think GPT has tremendous potential for this. Seen a few projects exploring this besides mine. Can't wait to see where it goes. It would be a shame if we can't figure out some great ways to use the new generative AI algos for education!

            • CamelRocketFish 16 days ago
              Agreed! Especially how easy it would be to have a bot that is aware of your vocabulary level and slowly introduces more vocabulary the more you interact with it.
    • scotty79 16 days ago
      I'd really love to hear Portuguese. What else did you do to immerse yourself in the language you are learning? I have trouble to even force youtube to give me content in Portuguese.
      • lakySK 16 days ago
        I can try and get a Portuguese episode generated for you later today or tomorrow.

        It’s really tough to find such content indeed. I’ve found Netflix shows in Italian and some Italian podcasts and music on Spotify.

        One thing that also helps is to find a subreddit focused on learning the language (like r/italianlearning). When I searched the subreddit for books / movies / podcasts / youtubers, I found a lot of fun stuff. Many are not targeted for language learners though, so are a hit tough to follow. And the ones targeted to language learners are often quite generic and not that entertaining. Hence, this effort.

        • scotty79 15 days ago
          Thank you! I am at the stage when I know too little to really appreciate the content. I'm just happy to recognize some words and get a general vibe of what's being talked about. I'm mostly looking for pleasent voices that speak clearly about things I'm not totally uniterested about.
      • lakySK 14 days ago
        A Portuguese episode is up and running now. Let me know what you think!


        • scotty79 13 days ago
          Thank you very much! It sounds great.
      • thiagoeh 16 days ago
        Take a look in the content backlog from Fabio Akita YouTube channel. Mostly of it is related to software development


        • scotty79 15 days ago
          Thank you. Subscribing to specific Portuguese creators seems like a good idea.
    • user7894635 16 days ago
      Would love to hear Russian! Been working on it for awhile but similarly struggle to converse
      • hyperkewb 16 days ago
        same here.
        • lakySK 16 days ago
          Alright, I can definitely try generating that.

          So far I've got requests for Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Russian then.

      • jellydonut8 15 days ago
    • gus_massa 16 days ago
      Why Italian? What is Slow Italian? [Hi from Argentina!]
      • lakySK 16 days ago
        Because I’m learning Italian and need it slow and in simple words & sentences.

        There are a bunch of podcasts that are called along the lines of News in Slow Italian, Stories in Slow Italian, etc that are targeted to the language learners. So just taking a fun twist on that :)

        Can be done for any language though. And I’m sure the prompt can be tuned for different levels of difficulty.

    • mattkohl 15 days ago
      This is great!!!

      Would it be possible to provide an English translation of the Italian transcription? Seeing them side by side would be enormously helpful.

    • huhtenberg 15 days ago
      French! Would love to have this in French.

      Between Italian, German, Spanish and French I find it's the most difficult language to parse by ear. The lack of pauses between words, the omnipresent en and y, their numerous contracted forms and generally speaking as if they are being charged by the millisecond makes it for an extremely frustrating experience sometimes.

    • tlamponi 15 days ago
      Not directly related to this, but what about a Firefox extension for LinguallyAI?

      I know that the Firefox user base sadly is relatively small nowadays, but maybe you're already using only the cross-browser WebExtensions API, so it might not be _that_ much extra work.

    • martopix 15 days ago
      I would love Swahili, I've been looking for a simple and short Swahili podcast that is not on religious topics and that's not easy, I could only find the Swahili news of the Japanese national radio (lol).

      And yes, ChatGPT speaks Swahili well.

    • joeatwork 15 days ago
      This one, in Italian, is really exciting! Thank you so much for making it!
    • mattnewton 15 days ago
      I don't know the state of text-to-speech for Mandarin Chinese but I would definitely listen to that if it's as good as this seems to be for Italian.
      • lakySK 15 days ago
        Oh, that's a great question! I'd be curious. GPT can do decent Mandarin from what I heard from my friends testing things for me. Haven't looked into text-to-speech yet though.
    • maguirre 13 days ago
      I have been learning Italiano for the past couple of years. This is awesome thank you
    • tehrob 16 days ago
      European Portuguese from Portugal!
    • maury91 15 days ago
      I would like to see Lithuanian
    • shankr 15 days ago
      German please. Might help me improve my German.
    • rolandog 15 days ago
      For me, Dutch, as I'm still learning it!
    • waterpowder 15 days ago
      Vietnamese with a northern accent please :D
    • misiti3780 15 days ago
      Anche io vorrei lo spagnolo!
    • federicotdn 15 days ago
      German would be amazing!
    • alexkowalenko 15 days ago
      French, en français!
    • 35mm 15 days ago
      Español por favor!
    • ricardobayes 15 days ago
      Spanish please :)
  • Pamar 15 days ago
    Italian native here.

    The quality of "podcast" is really really good. I spotted only one mispronounciation in the first couple minutes ("siete pronti ad immergervi...": immergervi had the stress on the wrong syllabe) but the rest was extremely good - kudos!

    • frenz1979 15 days ago
      Same for "principi", pronounced with accent on first i instead of the second, "Sassoni" on the o instead of a. However I agree..very very good!!
    • lakySK 15 days ago
      Thank you so much, dear sir!
  • manuelmoreale 16 days ago
    Unrelated to the product but if you ever want to practice your Italian while chatting about web related stuff hit me up. More than happy to help.
    • lakySK 16 days ago
      Thanks a lot! That's an amazing offer. What web related stuff are you most interested in? I've been playing with React a bit, but not sure if I could have a conversation in Itaian on it yet :D I'd be happy to chat on GPT and ML as well.
      • manuelmoreale 15 days ago
        I’m more into the web as a whole and tech on general. But I’m just curious about everything. I’m not super knowledgeable about ML but I’m certainly interested in the impact it’s having on the world.
  • squarefoot 16 days ago
    I'm a few minutes into it and it seems really well done, save for a few quirks, mostly pauses between words and misplaced accents. Curiously, some English words were spoken in perfect English, while others sounded like coming from someone not aware of the pronunciation differences with respect to Italian. Some compression artifacts can however be heard, especially when using headphones.

    btw: not sure what slow means; to me the talking speed sounds quite normal.

    • lakySK 16 days ago
      Thanks! This was by far the best Italian voice I've found, but definitely not perfect...

      The "slow" refers to the genre of podcasts like News in Slow Italian. Mostly using simple language and slow speed. I've set the speed to 85%, might need to dial it down even slower it seems :)

  • vba616 15 days ago
    TIL that the Slow Food movement originated in Italy.


  • Lynbarry 15 days ago
    Wow this is a really nice idea. I also have been learning italian with Duolingo for quite a while but have hit a plateau once I finished the course.

    So far I've only listened to the beginning, but that sounds like exactly the right difficulty to improve my listening comprehension.

    Do you have an approach to improve speaking italian (not only understanding)? Because that is the end goal for me and something that Duolingo doesn't really teach that much.

    • lakySK 15 days ago
      I've started taking some tutored classes from Preply, that helps.

      Watching shows on Netflix, listening to random podcasts also helps.

      But bridging this Duolingo-to-fluency gap, that's exactly what I'm trying to explore at the moment with the other projects on https://hn.lingually.ai/. I think AI can give something no other approaches can.

      So essentially, I've now got a Chrome extension to get immediate feedback on text I write. Then I have a POC for a text-adventure game to practice chatting with GPT-powered characters (dm me at https://twitter.com/LukasPlatinsky and I can set you up with a link to test). Now the podcast for some content to listen to. I next want to explore some daily short writing prompts with immediate grammar check by AI. Adding Whisper could unlock speaking as well.

      Lots of opportunities! Let me know if you're interested in trying any of these out :)

  • lakySK 14 days ago
    Pushed the latest Italian episode to the website! Let me know what you think!

    And today's special episode is in Portuguese! Any learners out there? https://twitter.com/LinguallyAI/status/1662570120684662784

  • InCityDreams 13 days ago
    Got an opportunity to give this a proper listen - really good. As a non-native Italian speaker, I'm impressed: and now I can have something that can accompany me to work. Thanks, great work.
  • antirez 16 days ago
    It's a shame that Play.ht quality is so bad for Italian, compared to English voices.
    • lakySK 16 days ago
      Oh, 100%

      And this is already the best one I've found. Trust me, you don't want to hear some of the Italian text-to-speech stuff I've come across during this search...

    • Alles 16 days ago
      yeah, you can hear some english pronunciation forced in sometimes but overall is pretty good
  • wnolens 15 days ago
    Impressive, will favorite this.

    I'm travelling in Italy right now for the first time and am totally in love with it. It's the first country I've ever traveled to that I can see myself returning to multiple times.

  • InCityDreams 13 days ago
    Had a chance to try this - really good, with just minor odd pronunciations, but everything else is top quality and, more importantly, very enjoyable. Thanks.
  • bombolo 16 days ago
    > siete pronti per immergèrvi


  • dotcoma 15 days ago
    First paragraph: accent on immergèrvi (on the second ‘e’) is wrong, it should be immèrgervi (first ‘e’).

    This said, I am still impressed.

  • dizhn 15 days ago
    Great idea. Even if gpt makes a factual mistake you're still learming Italian. Brilliant. You hacked the system.
    • tuatoru 15 days ago
      Is the typo (learming) intentional? If so this is brilliant sarcasm.
      • dizhn 15 days ago
        Oops. Just a typo.
  • TurkishPoptart 15 days ago
    Is there something like this for German or Russian? Thanks!!
  • lakySK 15 days ago
    New Italian episode uploaded. Check out the website.
  • fmiras 16 days ago
    Mama mia, good post
    • GaggiX 15 days ago
      Mamma mia*, mama is spanish.
  • dariosalvi78 15 days ago
    grazie, molto carino, e funziona bene!
  • canadianfella 15 days ago