Accessibility links

Breaking News

VOA's Online Pronunciation Guide / A Question About NASA / Rosemary Clooney's Grammy-Nominated Album, 'Last Concert'


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- a program in VOA Special English about music and American life. And we answer your questions.


This is Doug Johnson.

On our show today, we answer a question about the American space agency. And we continue our series about music nominated this year for a Grammy Award.

But first, some help for anyone who has trouble with names. Names in the news, that is.

VOA Pronunciation Guide


Every second of the day, someone somewhere in the world is using the Web site for the VOA Pronunciation Guide. In fact, it is one of the most visited places on the Internet. Here's more from Shep O’Neal.


The Pronunciation Guide began as a tool for VOA announcers. It lists more than four-thousand-five-hundred names. There are names of political leaders, scientists and other people who appear in the news. There are also names of places and organizations. The site shows the correct way to say the name and plays a recording. Jim Tedder is the VOA announcer who developed the online Pronunciation Guide. Yes, the same Jim Tedder who reads Special English!

When a new name appears in the news, Jim quickly tries to find the correct pronunciation, so he can add the name to the list. He finds a lot of help right here inside the building.

VOA broadcasts in more than fifty languages. So if, for example, someone new from China is in the news, Jim calls the China service.

Sometimes, other broadcasters may not be sure how to say the name. Jim may try to call the person directly, if possible. Or he calls an embassy here in Washington. Or a delegation in New York at the United Nations.

The Pronunciation Guide is an important tool for VOA announcers. But it has also become extremely popular with other radio and television stations throughout the world. Students and teachers also use the guide. So do businesspeople. It has become popular with anyone who needs to learn how to say a name correctly.

So how can you find the VOA Pronunciation Guide? One way is to go to the Special English Web site and click on the link. The address is voaspecialenglish-dot-com.



Our question this week comes by e-mail from China. A listener who asks that we not use his name wants to know more about NASA.

NASA is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It has many jobs involving flight. But it is best known as the agency that plans and supervises the exploration of space by the United States government. Thousands of scientists, engineers and others work for NASA at ten major centers across the country.

NASA began in nineteen-fifty-eight. Its first big program was Project Mercury. That was an effort to learn if humans could survive in space. Next came Gemini, which used spacecraft only big enough for two astronauts. Later, Project Apollo aimed to explore the moon. The flight of Apollo Eleven put the first humans on the moon in nineteen-sixty-nine.

Since the nineteen-eighties, NASA has flown space shuttles. Astronauts from the United States and other countries have used these to do research and to build the International Space Station.

Last February first, Space Shuttle Columbia broke up as it returned to Earth. Seven astronauts were killed. NASA immediately suspended shuttle flights until scientists could discover the cause of the accident.

A special committee said the main cause involved a piece of heat-resistant foam. This material broke away from the support structure that connects the shuttle to its launch rocket. The object hit the edge of the left shuttle wing with strong force and created a hole. Images of the launch showed the strike. But NASA engineers decided that the crew was not in danger.

The investigating committee found problems in the way NASA dealt with the situation. Problems with supervision were also found after the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch in nineteen-eighty-six.

This past September, NASA released a plan that included suggestions made by the committee. NASA’s top official said the agency would work to return the remaining three shuttles to flight as soon as possible. But last week, President Bush proposed to complete the space station in two-thousand-ten and then retire the shuttles. He proposed a new spacecraft to fly to the moon between two-thousand-fifteen and two-thousand-twenty. Mister Bush called for establishing a base there to help astronauts reach Mars and beyond.

Rosemary Clooney's "Last Concert"


The Grammy Awards in music will be given out next month in Los Angeles. One of the nominees this year was nominated for an album recorded before her death. The singer is Rosemary Clooney. The album is “The Last Concert.” Steve Ember has more.


Rosemary Clooney died in June of two-thousand-two at the age of seventy-four. She recorded the Grammy-nominated album in November of two-thousand-one at a concert in Hawaii. One of the songs she sang was “You Go to My Head.”


Rosemary Clooney talked to her audience that night about other famous singers she had worked with over the years; singers like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. She remembered them in this song, called “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.”


Rosemary Clooney worked in the music business for more than fifty years. In two-thousand-two she received a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement. Yet she never won a Grammy for her music. The producers of her last album hope that will change at the awards ceremony on February eighth.

We leave you with another song from “Last Concert.” This one describes her feelings about doing the performance and returning to Hawaii. Here is “Sentimental Journey,” sung by Rosemary Clooney.



This is Doug Johnson.

Today’s program was written by George Grow, Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson, who was also our producer. The engineer was Andreus Regis. I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.