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!

5 Comments on “On Speaking Aloud”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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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