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Old 02-23-2015, 08:25 PM   #1
worm in glove
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Audiobooks and unknown or misheard words

Hello everyone. I am a new member.

I am a relatively new convert to audiobooks and I have to say I love getting immersed in these wonderful audio worlds... until I mishear a word or hear a word I don't know. Then it suddenly gets very frustrating. I don't know how to let a word go so I just keep thinking about it. How do you deal with this?

Here are some examples. I was listening to an excerpt of the book Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell and I heard the expression 'a mecorous girl'.

A what? I furiously searched for this adjective online as I listened to the phrase over and over and at one point it struck me that the reader was saying a MERE CHORUS GIRL. Oh dear.

The other day I was listening to Bill Clinton's autobiography and when he was a child, his mother told him that they 'need abandon the house'. Why isn't there a 'to' after 'need' I thought, and why do they need to abandon the house anyway? It doesn't make sense. Repeated listening gave me no joy but I luckily found a text version online which solved the mystery 'need A MAN IN THE HOUSE.' Jeez.

And then there are unknown words, technical words, foreign words, proper nouns which you don't know how to spell, words which the reader pronounces differently than you and words which lose their context without proper punctuation.

Classic books are often full of antiquated words which are not used any more. Like how am I supposed to know that when Charles Dickens uses the word copper he is referring to a big kettle?

And without the capital letters how do you figure out that a Gold Medallion house has nothing to do with medallions but Gold Medallion is the name of a company or scheme selling modern houses?

When reading a print book it's easy to stop and look up words in a dictionary or to get the meaning from helpful punctuation and so on but when you're listening, words just fly by and even when you have a dictionary nearby, you're not sure that you heard a term correctly so you have to figure out the spelling of the word first.

Sometimes I look at print versions while listening at the same time but that kind of spoils the whole purpose of audiobooks. Audiobooks are most fun on the go not stuck to the computer trying to figure out individual words.

I am a well-read person, if I may say so myself. but I am finding this aspect of audiobooks hard to deal with. I'm sure I'm not the only one who experiences this. How do you deal with this? Do you just let such words gloss over you in favour of just getting the general idea of the story or do you have some efficient way of figuring things out? Getting bogged down in deciphering and understanding single words or phrases can spoil the joy of audiobooks. It also makes listening slower because I keep rewinding and re-listening.

Oddly enough, when I watch a film I don't obsess over each and every word in the script (even though I do watch films with subtitles sometimes) but when I listen to an audiobook, I do. Understanding every word seems paramount. Do you get this feeling as well or is it just one of my OCD habits?
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Old 02-23-2015, 08:55 PM   #2
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I listened to a book that had characters named Kaylin and Caitlin. Look very different in print. Don't sound very different at all. Very annoying.

(I can't say you're not being OCD, though - my friends lovingly call me anal retentive ).
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:05 PM   #3
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I think this might depend a lot on the reader, at least for me, but it can be subtle - for example, there are ways of intoning "Gold Medallion", capitalised, that make it sound a bit different from "gold medallion".

Copper is a different story as it would be the same in print as in audio.

I'm also weird about accents: I'm fine listening to a USAn accent for a book by a USAn author, but a while back I struck an audiobook by an Australian author that was read in a heavy USAn accent, and I just couldn't handle the dissonance.
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:58 PM   #4
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Thank you for replying so quickly FizzyWater and Meera.

I agree that the reader can make a huge difference. I tend to realise when a direct quote is used or a proper noun but not every time.

Each week, I listen to the audio version of the newspaper The Economist (a word for word reading of each article) and the readers are absolutely brilliant. It's a British, standard voice with practically no injection of drama. I'm also very used to the genre so this helps. I rarely, if ever, have any problems. Even strange names sound so clear that I feel I instantly know how to spell them.

With other readers, I can have more problems. Bill Clinton again for example (sorry but he's the one on my mind because I have just been listening to him): 'I had to clear up the BRATCHES.' Oh, really? I'm sure he means branches but I feel the need to check it up to be sure. Of course it's branches but for some reason he uses a 'tch' sound. Maybe it's an Arkansas thing.

Or at another point, a boy smoking a cigarette flicks the we-something at him. Wait, why is he using a word starting with a 'w'. Surely, the things to flick when smoking a cigarette are either ash or the stub or maybe the filter. I look it up and the word turns out to be 'weed'.

Argh. It wasn't a joint or a marijuana cigarette that was being smoked so I'm not sure why that particular word was chosen but, in print, I get it. In audio, I got confused, and it's not even because I didn't hear the word. Sometimes I hear words properly and think I misheard them because they sound out of place.

These little things can really drive me up the wall.
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:21 AM   #5
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I was just listening to a Lisa Scottoline book in which one character was a TV news reporter doing a features segment, "Moron Moms." It actually kind of seemed to fit ... but then the light bulb went off and I realized it was really entitled "More on Moms."
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Old 02-28-2015, 10:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
I was just listening to a Lisa Scottoline book in which one character was a TV news reporter doing a features segment, "Moron Moms." It actually kind of seemed to fit ... but then the light bulb went off and I realized it was really entitled "More on Moms."
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Old 03-07-2015, 04:02 AM   #7
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English is my second language and although I've been speaking it for two decades I still get words that I don't know when I'm reading a book. They are usually either archaic English words or very technical, for example some weapon that was used in 15th century.
When I use my kindle it's easy to check the meaning, little tap and all is revealed, the reading continues. But strangely when I'm listening to an audiobook and come across an unknown word, I don't stop to check. I'm not bothered by it at all. It's weird I know, but I found that few words in the book don't really influence neither my comprehension nor my enjoyment.
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Old 05-01-2015, 09:47 AM   #8
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When I started listening to audiobooks just over a year ago, it took me a bit of practice to pull my thoughts back to the book when they started to drift, but I improved quickly.

Early on, I realized that with audiobooks, I needed to go with the flow, accept that I would miss things. The point of audiobooks, for me, is two-fold: to get through more books and to improve the quality of time spent on mundane activities.

I'm far past being concerned that "something's going to be on the test." If I miss something, so what? if the book is sufficient important to me that I don't want to miss anything, I either back up the audiobook with a reading copy and skim bits I missed while distracted, or I don't listen to it at all. I admit that audiobooks are not ideal for absorbing the content of denser non-fiction where if I were reading it, I'd probably slow down and go over parts, but it doesn't really matter. I'm utilizing what would otherwise be downtime, so anything's a gain.

The entertainment value is colossal. I'm likelier to exercise longer if I'm listening to a good book. My commute is less tedious as are tasks around the house. When I had an eye issue last fall, audiobooks were a godsend.

Unlike some here, I don't think listening to audiobooks is reading them, although I count the books as read as a shortcut for having consumed them, so to speak. But listening to books is a goodly thing of its own, not inferior, just different, and I don't feel obligated to try to replicate in its entirety the experience of reading a book when I listen to one.
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