The best thing about Wikipedia is Spoken Wikipedia


At the nexus of accessibility, volunteer crowdsourcing, and the whims of human nature lies a magical place on the internet: Wikipedia’s collection of “spoken articles.”

Spoken Wikipedia—which we checked out in English—works like this: Anyone in the world can pick an article and record a spoken-word version, which is then available as an audio file.

This is a valuable feature for the visually impaired, people who understand spoken English better than they read it, or people who just want to listen and learn about the economy of Ontario while running or doing housework.

But it’s also valuable as pure entertainment. Each spoken entry showcases the work of budding voiceover talent from around the globe. There’s also no real control for quality, beyond general audibility, so the accents and energy can vary widely from presenter to presenter.

A variety of sexual acts are documented as Spoken Wikipedia entries, for those who prefer to actually hear the definition of a “death erection” rather than just read about it. Meanwhile, both banal and fringe concepts get their own time in the Spoken Wikipedia sun: coleslaw is there, as is the Pixies song “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” as is the 1958 Tybee Island mid-air collision.

Here, then, are five of the best Spoken Wikipedia must-listens. At least listen to the first one—we promise it’s worth your time.

1. Bhutanese Passport

Really, “Bhutanese passport” is the sine qua non of Spoken Wikipedia. Is that the speaker’s real accent? Is it distorted on purpose? These are the questions that torment Spoken Wikipedia’s volunteer editors, who are currently debating on whether or not to delete the article. SAVE “BHUTANESE PASSPORT!” (Also, hat tip to writer Ned Raggett for leading us to this magic via Facebook.)

2. Berliner (pastry)

Delight as the contributor, who Wikipedia notes has an “exaggerated German” accent, explains the origin of what is basically a German donut. Wait for the sentence, early on, when he explains, “the filling is injected using a large syringe.” Goosebumps!

3. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

If you haven’t been to a college party where a wise guy explains how that’s actually a grammatically complete sentence, you have a better social life than us. And then you can listen to this Spoken Wikipedia entry, full of hypnotic repetition.

4. Hicky (injury)

The British English pronunciation of “hicky” is enough to keep you listening to this scientific explanation of what some refer to as a “love bite.” Our narrator also enthusiastically offers some home remedies, such as applying metal spoons to the injured area.

5. Death erection

Ah, the old death erection. Volunteer reader Jules Ismail has a unique style that would be more appropriate for the “Please turn off your cell phone” movie theater announcement, but it does keep us engaged throughout the explanation of a post-mortem boner.

Alexandra DiPalma is a producer for Fusion Lightworks, Fusion’s In-house Branded Content Agency.

Arielle Castillo is Fusion’s culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She’s also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.

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