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February 06, 2007

On Speaking Aloud

Mary Robinette Kowal, who did such a lovely job performing "The Sagan Diary," writes up a piece about what happens when the words you're reading don't exactly trip off the tongue. And she includes an audio file to make the point. Fun and instructive!

Posted by john at February 6, 2007 12:37 PM

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Nathan | February 6, 2007 01:22 PM

Actually, that's hysterical.

It's something I experience in my head all the time. There are a ton (o.k. maybe a quarter ton), of characters in different books whose names I can't work out. I know exactly who they are when I'm reading the book, but every time they come around, I just read a mental mumblemumblemumble.

There are other characters who, even though I can "sound out" the proper pronunciation, I sometimes decide that I prefer an alternate pronunciation (either because it hurts my head less or sounds better to me).

The only real downside to this would be if I ever run into the respective authors and want to ask them about "mumblemumblemumble's motivation when he inexplicably adopted a star slug", or whatever.

I can see where it would be a whole lot more problematic for someone taping an audio-book.

Jason Erik Lundberg | February 6, 2007 01:23 PM

She actually has an entire series on reading aloud, and for someone hoping to improve his public speaking skills, it has been incredibly helpful.

Gordon | February 6, 2007 02:46 PM

Just for kicks, I read that paragraph aloud, and didn't botch it until I got to "Cainen Suen Su." (I'm still not sure how to say that.) However, my delivery is probably vastly unsuited for audio books- I tend to read things aloud very fast, and I generally don't slow down for commas. Efficient, perhaps, but not very natural.

John Scalzi | February 6, 2007 02:51 PM

Exactly, Gordon: There's more to doing a good reading for an audio book than simply reading quickly. Mary's actually giving a performance; note the difference in between her reading of the preface and reading, say, Chapter Seven, and you'll definitely hear it.

Mary Robinette Kowal | February 11, 2007 11:59 PM

I'm pretty sure that the reason I kept stumbling on "analytical" is because there were three occurrences of "analysis" leading up to it, and the emphasis is in a different place. My BrainPal was not unpacking the information in a useful manner.

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