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The original was a little bit too complicated for me. This one does not use any variables.
Looks up a word on merriam-webster.com, does a screen scrape for the FIRST audio pronunciation and plays it.
USAGE: Put this one-liner into a shell script (e.g., ~/bin/pronounce) and run it from the command line giving it the word to say:
If the word isn't found in merriam-webster, no audio is played and the script returns an error value. However, M-W is a fairly complete dictionary (better than howjsay.com which won't let you hear how to pronounce naughty words).
ASSUMPTIONS: GNU's sed (which supports -r for extended regular expressions) and Linux's aplay. Aplay can be replaced by any program that can play .WAV files from stdin.
KNOWN BUGS: only the FIRST pronunciation is played, which is problematic if you wanted a particular form (plural, adjectival, etc) of the word. For example, if you run this:
you'll hear a voice saying "onomatopoeia".
Playing the correct form of the word is possible, but doing so might make the screen scraper even more fragile than it already is. (The slightest change to the format of m-w.com could break it).