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I'm writing text to speech software, and as it stands, I already have a method for reading out mathematical formulas accurately, which I have been using with chemicals as well. Thus, something like:

H2O would be read more or less as "Ayche, sub two, O".

and

CO2 would be read more or less as "Sea, O, sub two"

That is fine here and there, However in a lot of texts this becomes extremely tedious, for example:

In tissue, cellular respiration produces carbon dioxide as a waste product; as one of the primary roles of the cardiovascular system, most of this CO2 is rapidly removed from the tissues by its hydration to bicarbonate ion. The bicarbonate ion present in the blood plasma is transported to the lungs, where it is dehydrated back into CO2 and released during exhalation. These hydration and dehydration conversions of CO2 and H2CO3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicarbonate_buffer_system

In this paragraph alone, you would hear: "Sea, O, sub two" three times. While I am not a chemist, I would assume that most listeners would prefer to hear would prefer to listen to a nomenclature that actually gave a name to the formula in cases like these, thus instead of hearing "Sea, O, sub two" and "Ayche, sub two, O". -- you would hear the preferred chemical nomenclature,

  • Carbon Dioxide

and

  • Water

or

  • Oxidane

or

  • Dihydrogen monoxide

Is there a big table or list or resource available of the preferred nomenclature? And how often does this nomenclature depend on context, in the sense where the nomenclature would change depending on whether this was medicine or astronomy (etc...)?

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    $\begingroup$ Well, that would be a really big table unless you just made your own with a couple dozen or so compounds that are commonly used in English conversation. However, it looks like you want it to apply to scientific texts, which certainly complicates things. There are large molecules, for example proteins or even amino acids which would be horrible to hear anything other than their common names. For smaller molecules, I'd just say "loose the sub". i.e. "sea oh sub two" sounds very odd but "sea oh two" is perfectly acceptable in most scientific contexts, as well as in everyday conversation. $\endgroup$ – airhuff Feb 4 '17 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ Out of curiosity, how would your software differ from other text-to-speech software that already exists? $\endgroup$ – halcyon Mar 6 '17 at 3:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Akiva, I'd love to test your software on some demo articles, and would be happy to provide feedback. I've used a few iOS apps in the past, but the speech artifacts were a bit distracting. Is it just wikipedia pages you've worked on, or can you do also do journal articles? $\endgroup$ – halcyon Mar 6 '17 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Akiva, great! I'll get back to you within a week or two. How / where would you like feedback? I don't know if continuing this comment thread would be the best choice... ;) $\endgroup$ – halcyon Mar 10 '17 at 3:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Akiva, overall, I thought the reading was great. Better than the 1-2 I've used in the sense that it felt more natural and less jarring. More specific comments: (1) there's melodic noise that plays before reading the ion names - this is distracting. (2) Cation is mispronounced as "cash-un" instead of "cat-eye-on". (3) Similarly, anion is mispronounced as "an-yun" instead of "an-eye-on". (4) in some places, a dash was read in as minus, such as with "S1-S4" which would be human-read as "S1 through S4." $\endgroup$ – halcyon Mar 16 '17 at 23:00
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Here's a pretty extensive list on Wikipedia.

Dictionary of chemical formulas

I doubt this nomenclature would change much depending on context, given that there is a widely used nomenclature system (IUPAC) (see here).

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    $\begingroup$ Oh wow! Amazing; I'm going to implement these tonight! Thank you so much! $\endgroup$ – Akiva Mar 7 '17 at 1:44

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