How to Read Aloud.

Bathrobe sent me a link to How to Read Aloud, Irina Dumitrescu’s review (LRB, 10 September 2020) of Voices and Books in the English Renaissance: A New History of Reading by Jennifer Richards and Learning Languages in Early Modern England by John Gallagher (both Oxford 2019), with the comment “Very interesting! Touches on several LH issues, including multilingualism, foreign language learning, and the virtues of reading out loud.” It sure is, and I hope you haven’t used up your free-article quota for the month (it was my last freebie) so you can read the whole thing. I’ll quote some particularly juicy bits, but it’s all good:

In the British Isles as in the rest of Europe, most instruction in other subjects took place in Latin. From the early Middle Ages into the Renaissance, skill in Latin was a marker of elite status, as it still is, but it was also of practical use for international travel and communication. It was taught using many of the same techniques employed for modern foreign languages today: singing, lively dialogues, reciting poetry, taking dictation and giving speeches. Pupils learned the language orally, in other words, as well as through grammar and the translation of set phrases. […]

It is easy to overlook how loud premodern education was. Most of our evidence for more than a thousand years of teaching consists of books, and, to the modern way of thinking, books are objects used silently. That this was not the usual way of doing things for much of Western history is now better known, though still difficult fully to understand. In a famous anecdote in the Confessions, Augustine describes seeing Ambrose of Milan reading on his own without making a sound. Ambrose was not the first person in history to read silently, but his quiet, private reading was unusual enough to make an impression. Augustine wondered whether Ambrose did it to preserve his voice or because someone might overhear him reading a difficult passage and ask him to explain it. Scholars have, in turn, asked why Augustine found Ambrose’s silent reading noteworthy: was it simply his ability to do it, or the peculiarity of his solitude?

What’s clear is that reading was, for most people, a fundamentally social act. […] Jennifer Richards’s excellent Voices and Books in the English Renaissance challenges the view of early modern books as objects for quiet use. She begins by noting how much scholarly work on Renaissance books focuses on traces associated with silent reading, especially the annotations readers used to help them absorb the material, to note parallel passages, or to mark their reactions to certain passages. Oral performance leaves no obvious marks behind. […] She encourages us to see the history of books in the early modern period differently by acknowledging the importance vocal work still has in our reading. […]

As their education progressed, pupils had to learn how to read books out loud. Richards shows how the choices early modern printers made in typesetting and punctuating books helped readers to speak them. Early modern educators, like their modern counterparts, had to deal with the peculiar challenges posed by English: confusing homonyms, plentiful loan words, and irrational spelling conventions. Edmund Coote helped readers of The English Schoole-Maister (1596) navigate difficult vocabulary by printing a list of tricky words at the end of the book. Loan words from Latin and Greek appeared in Roman type, French words were rendered in italics, and words of English origin in blackletter. […]

The matter of delivery, Richards notes, ‘is seen as frivolous and foolish’ by historians of rhetoric, and has been given short shrift. But early modern educators had boys practise figures of speech, many of which – like irony – depended on a particular intonation. One of the rhetorical exercises the Renaissance inherited from the ancient curriculum required pupils to compose and deliver a speech in the voice of an object, an animal or a famous person. Many of these monologues were highly emotional laments written for legendary women such as Niobe, Hecuba or Medea. (Hamlet’s dismissive remark about an actor – ‘What’s Hecuba to him?’ – was Shakespeare’s wink at the histrionics of the Renaissance classroom.) Scholars have debated whether this practice taught boys to empathise with women or simply to speak for them. Richards reminds us, however, that elite women were sometimes tutored in the same way at home. Some of them, like Elizabeth Cary and Mary Sidney, wrote closet dramas that allowed women themselves to perform women’s passions.

Noble women like Sidney, Cary and indeed Elizabeth I were tutored in modern languages as well as ancient ones. This was despite common prejudices against women’s education and female speech more generally. An anecdote about Bathsua Makin, a noted 17th-century polyglot, says she was presented at the court of James I because of her ability to ‘speak and write pure Latin, Greek and Hebrew’. ‘But can she spin?’ the king asked. John Gallagher relates this story and many like it in Learning Languages in Early Modern England, in which he assembles a rich body of documentary evidence to illustrate the methods and social importance of instruction in vernacular languages. While Richards describes the oral elements of Latin education and its consequences for English books, Gallagher provides the other voices: London-based teachers of French boasting of their perfect accents to attract students, well-off English travellers to the Continent who knew to avoid their countrymen if they wanted to learn Italian properly, and Huguenot refugees learning English language and culture from phrasebooks.

Gallagher’s​ main point is simple but powerful: ‘early modern England was multilingual.’ Medieval England was too, in practical terms, but between 1480 and 1715, print made language-learning books increasingly available. Gallagher counts at least 294 editions of conversational manuals for teaching a modern European language printed during this period – and this leaves out grammars and dictionaries, as well as books on non-European languages. Language manuals were practical tools, and some of them were printed cheaply and left unbound, which suggests that the number of available resources was even higher.

Why did people choose to learn modern languages? The reasons varied with the language. French was prestigious and useful for diplomacy. Claude Mauger, Restoration England’s most prominent French teacher, claimed that he kept his language up-to-date through daily contact with French courtiers, ambassadors and various members of the nobility. He thus managed to boast at once of his pedagogical credentials and his social connections. Italian was a lingua franca for commerce across the Mediterranean, and later appealed to lovers of opera. In a perfect example of Restoration multilingualism, Giacomo Rossi published a guide to learning Italian in London, and wrote it in French because he assumed his local readers would already know that language; he went on to write libretti for Handel, another immigrant. […] Language learning wasn’t only an accomplishment for the well-off. Servants who could converse in foreign languages were more employable by elite families. Gallagher’s more general argument is that the English were interested in learning foreign languages because English was still a marginal tongue. The cost of entry to international trade, politics and culture was some time spent with language primers. […]

Conversational manuals were, in Gallagher’s words, ‘speaking books’, intended to give learners the tools to navigate a variety of social events, rituals and practical quandaries. They explained how to be polite to social equals and, often, how to be rude to inferiors: John Minsheu’s Spanish Grammar taught an Englishman how to employ the informal ‘tu’ and to call his servant a majadéro or ‘blockhead’. Class was not the only prejudice reinforced by these books. In Sex Linguarum, a polyglot manual from the Continent, readers could find lumped together the Latin for ‘heathen’, ‘a Turk’, ‘Saracens’, ‘a heretic’ and ‘a sodomite’; translations into five modern tongues were also supplied. In The French Garden, a manual written specifically for women, Peter Erondell offered vocabulary for discussing childcare with the nurse, and asking men for help with simple business transactions. Like their Latin analogues in medieval and Renaissance schoolbooks, the sample dialogues in modern language manuals did not shy away from conflict. William Stepney’s Spanish Schoole-master includes a drinking party in which men accuse one another of not imbibing enough. A similar scene in a Latin colloquy written in England six centuries earlier features inebriated monks bullying each other. It seems that textbooks have always recognised the importance of drama and alcohol for language learning.

Together, Richards and Gallagher have given us a picture of an early modern England made louder and more boisterous by print, not silenced by it. Printed books made foreign languages more accessible, even to those without a private teacher or the funds to travel. Overseas trade and global politics resulted in greater interest in foreign tongues, with books on Arabic, Malay and Narragansett as well as the Continental standards. Immigrants take their place here as teachers, authors of foreign-language manuals, and students of English in their own right. This is a story of England finding its many voices.

Fara Dabhoiwala did a review of the Gallagher for the Guardian last November that LH reader pat sent me at the time; it was so enticing I put it aside for further investigation, and then… well, here it finally is! Thanks to both pat and Bathrobe for alerting us to some excellent reading.

Oh, and on the Augustine/Ambrose story, Conrad said back in 2007:

The Augustine-Ambrose point is frequently misused: as Carruthers points out, what surprised Augustine was that Ambrose only read silently. Peter Saenger has a very interesting article (in Viator 13, 1982) on the history of silent reading, which is not a recent invention, pace Illich (whose “Vineyard” must be taken with a pinch of salt, though it contains undeniably entertaining passages).

If anyone knows more about this, I’m all ears.


  1. If anyone knows more about this, I’m all ears.

    Well, David Marjanović said on January 11, 2007 at 11:22 am

    I touch-type with 10 fingers and have found that I type fastest when I don’t imagine the sounds of the words I’m copying. (Haven’t tried typing really fast for other purposes.)

    Like the Tour de France competitors who shave their legs to reduce air resistance this degree of dedication is beyond me but I’m still very impressed. I say phrases or sentences in my head and then type them. Reading Aloud is an essential school subject that requires tuition like Maths or Tidying Up (not Geography).

  2. Should I shave my ears to hear better?

  3. Finding it hard to keep my breakfast down at the sight of “still difficult fully to understand”, ugh zombie rules.

  4. Yes, and I ran across an even worse example of an ostentatiously unsplit infinitive in my reading last night, but didn’t make a note of it.

  5. PlasticPaddy says:

    I would prefer “to understand fully” here, but would you prefer “to fully understand”?

  6. I certainly would — écrasez l’infâme!

  7. PlasticPaddy says:

    Ok. I suppose it is like my lack of a pronoun reference autofilter. I don’t like hanging on for the verb, in order to know what the adverb is referring to😊.

  8. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    Isn’t that what you do in Latin?

  9. David Marjanović says:

    I say phrases or sentences in my head and then type them.

    So do I, except sometimes when I copy a text. Eddyshaw is the David who reads silently even on the inside.

  10. Eddyshaw is the David who reads silently even on the inside.
    I can’t do that. He must at least whisper. Or does he make instead a running internal commentary to what’s on the page? Otherwise how does he recall it?

    Should I shave my ears to hear better?
    Shave your ears to hear quicker.

  11. to hear quicker.
    I’m thinking quiz shows. I’m not sure if that’s sport (sports).

  12. Mongolian lamas use Tibetan prayer books as memory aids.

    They already memorized text in its entirety, so opened book only serves as a reminder during chanting.

    Perhaps this was the most frequent form of “reading” in history.

  13. David Marjanović

    And now, another brainy Austrian this time with unshaven ears.

  14. I wonder if his colleagues at Imperial College London call him “Hire ’er” or “Harer”?

  15. David Eddyshaw says:

    I can’t do that. He must at least whisper. Or does he make instead a running internal commentary to what’s on the page? Otherwise how does he recall it?

    I don’t know. Recalling what I’ve read is no problem, though.

    There is evidently some phonological component to what happens in my head when I read; for example, I get caught out by cryptic crossword clues that rely on homophones that only work for non-rhotics (sadly this seems to have become accepted practice in the UK. O tempora, o mores …)

    There is no voice involved, though; neither mine, nor anyone else’s. I was mystified when I discovered that it’s quite usual when people read silently for them to hear themselves internally saying the words in their own voices. I never have.

  16. David E, are you good at reading aloud?

    saying the words in their own voices
    Not always in my case and for instance, when I read your words, I hear them internally as slightly Welsh-accented (they may really be slightly Scottish for all I know but it’s good enough for my brain just to hear them slightly differently).

  17. David Eddyshaw says:

    are you good at reading aloud?

    Hardly ever happens, so I suppose: No.

  18. I have not read aloud since I was three, when I was reading bedtime stories to my baby brother, so it is fascinating to hear of other people’s experiences. NOT AN EDIT: Youtube is now censoring anti-Trump songs. END OF NON – EDIT. AJP Crown: did you see what happened at the Tour de France today? The pileup at the front?

  19. I just wonder if there’s any connection. Whether an actor for example might read lots of voices into something they read.

  20. I’ve googled it but I can’t find a pileup today at the Tour de France. In consolation, I may try writing an anti-Trump song.

  21. I read aloud (to my wife) every night. It’s fun!

  22. (We’re about a third of the way through Daniel Deronda at the moment.)

  23. AJP Crown: so, do you even watch the Tour de France? (you’re supposed to be kind when visiting parents.)

    NOW A real EDIT: sorry, can’t find a good video. Basically 17 cyclists got out of the peloton and formed a leading formation in front of it, and than they crashed into each other for some reason.

  24. There is a school of thought that says Reading Aloud Will Dramatically Improve Your Writing

  25. Bathrobe: The fifteen-minute time limit was really getting to me, and I did not want to double-post (I hate to spam); and I was also distracted with other business. I was scrambling to integrate the two posts for two and a half minutes, with an injury at my left hand, which leaves me unsuited to my usual kind of typing; using the alt and shift keys a lot (which I can’t do now).

  26. Not sure why you’re addressing that to Bathrobe; I don’t think he was addressing you. At any rate, I’m sorry you’re injured; please take care of yourself.

  27. If I may ask, is there a reason you did not delete — this comment?

  28. LanguageHat: “Not sure why you’re addressing that to Bathrobe”: They were just the first to comment before me.

  29. David Eddyshaw says:

    There is a school of thought that says Reading Aloud Will Dramatically Improve Your Writing

    It would probably improve both medical and linguistic papers dramatically if they were written primarily with a view to public recitation.

    Call me Eddyshaw.
    Let me tell you of the speech of the Kusaasi.
    Once a simple eye surgeon went to the savanna …

  30. If I may ask, is there a reason you did not delete this comment?

    There’s nothing wrong with it. Please don’t read hostile messages into other people’s comments.

  31. Call me Eddyshaw.
    Let me tell you of the speech of the Kusaasi.
    Once a simple eye surgeon went to the savanna …

    Mr Eddishaw, writing for public recitation doesn’t mean converting to a style of declamatory narration.

  32. David Eddyshaw says:

    Mr Eddishaw, writing for public recitation doesn’t mean converting to a style of declamatory narration

    Surely it does? Anyway, I was just getting into the swing of it …

  33. Of course it does! (Or at any rate of course it can.) Consider, from the age of elocution, (a) the chapter from Tom Sawyer about the end-of-school exercises, (b) the title page of James Russell Lowell’s A Fable for Critics, and (c)

    Or, for something more contemporary in LH’s line, Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate. Visualize the painting of Pushkin declaiming before the Czar.

  34. I read much faster than I could possibly vocalize, and I do read aloud to Gale. The only thing I notice particularly is that I when I read to her, I retain the book better (of late) than if I don’t.

  35. cyclists

    I just learned that in 1920s female cyclists were officially known as cycladonna.

    Apparently the word went out of use very quickly, can’t find any more info on google.

  36. David Marjanović says:

    I should add that the thing about copying without imagining a pronunciation means not routing the letters through language processing at all – so that often I have next to no idea what I just wrote when I copy something that way.

    I do read faster than I can speak, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still imagine a pronunciation.

  37. David: cryptic crossword clues that rely on homophones that only work for non-rhotics

    Imperfect though they might be, they’ are still not as bad as homophones would be (if ever they saw print) which rely on, say, the cot/caught, bomb/balm, pin/pen or weak-vowel mergers. (Rhoticity is not the only issue.)

  38. V, I wasn’t intentionally rude in comment 3993482 and I do indeed know next to nothing about the Tour de France or any other sport. The only recent crash I could find happened in the middle of the thirteenth stage three or four days ago.

    This is not only meaningless it’s for obvious reasons an entirely different David Eddyshaw, but I have limited time:

    Non-rhotic eye surgeon Dai Eddyshaw
    Chewed African gum ‘To be ready more
    Quickly,’ he said. ‘Most
    Ends up on a bedpost
    And doesn’t explain why my head is sore.’

  39. I expect most people read much faster than they speak, don’t they? Newsreaders have to consciously slow down their speaking so it doesn’t try to keep up with their eye and all come out as a garble.

  40. David Eddyshaw says:


    Worthy of Hart Crane himself.
    The atmosphere of mounting menace is especially well conveyed, I think.

  41. I’ll get to the bottom of the menace in Canto II.

  42. David Marjanović says:

    homophones would be (if ever they saw print)

    Of course that has happened for the pin/pen merger: check out the last section of this post.

  43. From Godey’s Magazine for October 1896:

    Our Australasian second cousins have coined a new word which stands for feminine cyclist: it is “cycla-donna,” or, in plain English, a “bicycle woman.”

  44. I was wondering about that use of “Australasian,” so I looked it up in the OED and found this citation:

    1937 D. Cowie N.Z. from Within 253 [New Zealand] refuses to allow the term ‘Australasian’ to be used in her hearing.

  45. “Australasia” is (or used to be) used in Australia. I can understand why Kiwis wouldn’t like it, though. It sounds like New Zealand is part of or an appendage of Australia.

  46. It’s fascinating how even though so many people can read quietly, reading aloud is making a come-back with audiobooks and things like that. I usually read with my inner voice, especially when I read for fun, but if I have to read quickly I have to shut if off. When I’m studying a foreign language, I like to read aloud, it helps learning (and helps you find out which words you don’t know the pronunciation for). I like to repeat phrases from tv shows out loud, too, but that perhaps doesn’t count as reading.

    More mystic is some people’s insistence that they dream in languages. That’s not something I do, and I have a hard time imagining how it would be. Would it be like reading? Like watching a documentary?

  47. David Marjanović says:

    More mystic is some people’s insistence that they dream in languages. That’s not something I do

    Are there no dialogs in your dreams? Does nobody speak?

  48. Erratum: The author of the article in Viator is named Paul Saenger, not Peter.

    For those who have access to ProQuest, I found that there are archives of Viator, including that one containing the article by Paul Saenger.

    Saenger also wrote a book: Space Between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading

    Reading, like any human activity, has a history. Modern reading is a silent and solitary activity. Ancient reading was usually oral, either aloud, in groups, or individually, in a muffled voice. The text format in which thought has been presented to readers has undergone many changes in order to reach the form that the modern Western reader now views as immutable and nearly universal. This book explains how a change in writing–the introduction of word separation–led to the development of silent reading during the period from late antiquity to the fifteenth century.

    Over the course of the nine centuries following Rome s fall, the task of separating the words in continuous written text, which for half a millennium had been a function of the individual reader s mind and voice, became instead a labor of professional readers and scribes. The separation of words (and thus silent reading) originated in manuscripts copied by Irish scribes in the seventh and eighth centuries but spread to the European continent only in the late tenth century when scholars first attempted to master a newly recovered corpus of technical, philosophical, and scientific classical texts.

    Why was word separation so long in coming? The author finds the answer in ancient reading habits with their oral basis, and in the social context where reading and writing took place. The ancient world had no desire to make reading easier and swifter. For various reasons, what modern readers view as advantages–retrieval of reference information, increased ability to read “difficult texts, greater diffusion of literacy–were not seen as advantages in the ancient world. The notion that a larger portion of the population should be autonomous and self-motivated readers was entirely foreign to the ancient world s elitist mentality.

    The greater part of this book describes in detail how the new format of word separation, in conjunction with silent reading, spread from the British Isles and took gradual hold in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The book concludes with the triumph of silent reading in the scholasticism and devotional practices of the late Middle Ages.

    Saenger’s book is part of a Stanford University Press series — Figurae: Reading Medieval Culture.

  49. Very interesting, thanks!

  50. Saenger’s Space Between Words was previously covered here in 2003.

  51. Amplification and correction: in a comment on September 11 I mentioned “the painting of Pushkin declaiming before the Czar.” What I had in mind was

  52. Well, so much for my attempt at scrupulosity. Malwarebytes says that Russian site about Repin’s painting of Pushkin in declamatory action is fraudulent, so here’s a different link.

    Anyway: not the Czar but elderly Gavrila Dzerzhavin, standing in visual and symbolic parallel before young Pushkin.

  53. Saenger’s Space Between Words was previously covered here in 2003.

    Great heavens, so it was! How on earth did you know that? I had utterly forgotten. A very interesting thread, too.

  54. It sounded familiar, so I searched the site for Saenger’s name, and the page came up. I suppose I must have found it interesting enough at the time that some memory was preserved.

  55. Australasia:

    Commonly used in late 19th and early 20th century to refer to British possessions in Australia and the Pacific. Many companies and organisations founded around this time used the word.

    Let’s not forget that in addition to the Australian colonies, New Zealand and, I believe, Fiji were present at the constitutional conventions in the 1890s that eventually resulted in the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia.


    White girl – New Zealand, Black girl – Fiji, ogre – Australia.

  57. I am sure that Saenger’s book (which I haven’t read) makes an interesting and cogent argument for his thesis on ‘reading aloud’, but it seems to me that it might be weakened by its exclusively European focus. Yes, we all know that Chinese and Japanese don’t separate words, as pointed out at the earlier thread in 2003. But there is an area of the world in between that appears to have been using word-spacing from early on (indeed, the Irish might have got it from there). I would be curious about the correlation between word-spacing and reading aloud in both Chinese/Japanese (no word-spacing) and the middle area from Arabic, Aramaic etc.,… right across to Manchu (having word-spacing). To what extent would they help or detract from his thesis?

    In fact, Mongolian has from the introduction of writing used a word-spaced script while a typologically similar language like Japanese has not. The result is that there is a fairly well-established concept of the “word” in Mongolian (although the word үг / ᠦᠭᠡ üg itself can mean both ‘word’ and ‘language’), whereas it is a vague and unreliable concept in Japanese. But I’m just slightly sceptical whether the lack of word-spacing in Japanese (or its presence in Mongolian) has anything to do with traditions of reading aloud or otherwise. Of course, I might be missing the point entirely.

    (A couple of years ago I wrote a lengthy blog post (which I think I mentioned here — far too long, but very hard to condense now) on the way that the lack of word-spacing and the lack of a clear concept of ‘word’ in Japanese had wreaked havoc with attempts to fit Japanese within the Google Universal Dependencies project. Indeed, the main issue that preoccupied the computer specialists who tackled the project were precisely strings of Chinese-style character compounds, which they weren’t sure how to deal with and which hopelessly distorted their overall treatment. Since I posted my criticism a couple of new proposed schemas have arisen in Europe, which I hope have rectified some of the problems.)

  58. I was annoyed last year when one of the NPR shows had a quiz question that assumed “Rihanna” and “sauna” rhyme.

  59. I was wondering why my comment got caught in moderation, but I guess it was because I messed up the closing of the link markup. I didn’t intend to link the whole sentence.

  60. Now that you’ve alerted me, I’ve fixed it.

  61. dream in languages

    It rarely happens these days, but when I was younger I used to have frequent hypnopompic dreams of self-composing text, which would go on generating itself on the dream page for as long as I cared to follow it. As far as I could tell it had no semantic content whatsoever, but was pure style, imitating the rhythms and cadences of whatever author I’d recently been reading. I have no idea if this is a common phenomenon, but it was great fun and I wish it would come back.

  62. David Marjanović says:


    I have occasionally dream…t of reading something (with invariably very interesting contents… at least potentially. It’s really hard work, because I’m composing the text in real time, and it changes in front of my eyes, too; I think it tends to wake me up and/or make me realize I’m dreaming.

  63. I used to have frequent hypnopompic dreams of self-composing text, which would go on generating itself on the dream page for as long as I cared to follow it.

    This comment must have influenced me, because I had such a dream this morning (after I finally got back to sleep — the cat woke us chasing a mouse in the bedroom sometime after 4:30). I was looking at a page of printed material in English, except that it made no sense and a lot of the words weren’t actually words. (I think one of the real words was “colloidally.”) Then the text suddenly turned into Russian. The odd thing is that as I was trying to read it I was remembering TR’s comment and thinking “This is just like that.” Then I awoke.

  64. New Zealand and, I believe, Fiji were present at the constitutional conventions in the 1890s that eventually resulted in the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia.

    And indeed, just one universe away, Aoteoroa was not a founding province but did join Australasia in free association sometime in the 20C. The Original Three were English-Australia in the west, Kingsland (Scotland) in the northeast, New Kemr di’ll Ostr in the east but including Van Diemen’s Land (Kemrese/Welsh). Guereintia in the southeast was formerly part of NKdO but separated as a result of the 1921 treaty granting independence to Ireland, at which point it became both the sixth province of Ireland and a fourth province on the Australian mainland. There are also about 70 Aboriginal nations in the Great Corridor Territory, which occupies the center of the continent from north to south, and who form a federation within the Commonwealth but are not considered a state.

    “One small group of separatists in Hobart, Van Diemens Land, caused a bit of a stir in 2005 by calling for the province’s secession from Australasia and then joining the Scandinavian Realm instead due to the marriage of a local girl to the Scandinavian heir apparent.” (Wikipedia)

  65. William Boyd says:

    I, like Moa (above), now prefer reading aloud nearly any text in Spanish (my second language which I’ve been working on for >60 years). ‘Course, it wasn’t always like that.

    Only recently upon for the second time attempting to get into the prose of Bolaño, I decided to go light, so to speak, by starting with his “Los detectives salvajes” rather than deal outright with his massive “2666.” Yeah, a much shorter work a couple of hundred pages, but because it’s highly idiomatic (mostly so-called Mexican Spanish but a fair amount of Chilean), reading aloud turned out to result not only in a much more satisfying read but afforded me the joy of speaking Spanish (I torture only a few family members who are familiar with the language with my foreign utterances). [Hmm, now I wonder if my so recent embrace of reading prose aloud was influenced somewhat by Bolaño’s introduction of the “infrarrealistas.”]

  66. January First-of-May says:

    I have occasionally dream…t of reading something (with invariably very interesting contents… at least potentially. It’s really hard work, because I’m composing the text in real time, and it changes in front of my eyes, too; I think it tends to wake me up and/or make me realize I’m dreaming.

    Weird, I get texts in my dreams a lot, but I don’t think the text actively changes, and it definitely doesn’t look like it’s just generating itself.
    (Though it’s still weird. This comment describes a particularly outrageous example.)

    Admittedly, maybe I just don’t know what to look for, and/or forget what to look for while inside a dream.

    OTOH, about half the time the “texts” seem to turn into video while I’m not paying attention. (Then the video ends and I close the book.)

  67. David Marjanović says:

    I just don’t have object permanence in my dreams.

  68. Both nights since posting my comment I’ve had dreams of the type I described. Funny how these things work.

  69. I find it interesting that people say they can’t replicate that in their dreams; just last night, I dreamt of reading two articles, spread through three pages of a paper I used to read ten years ago, and scrolling though it. Said newspaper is no longer published on paper, and in my dream is was something like “In memory of “X”?

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