Thursday, September 24, 2009

Voices

Yesterday evening, for some unknown reason, I was thinking about how who the narrator is in a book can really change what you learn of the story (more on that another time). Anyway, this suddenly made me wonder what the voice was that I hear in my head when I read. This then made me wonder if the voice G hears has a Scottish accent. At this point G got home from work, so I took the opportunity to ask. But G doesn’t seem to hear a “voice” when reading, which I find perplexing (although this does also make me wonder if I am “hearing voices”, which probably wouldn’t be a good thing – unless they gave me the winning lottery numbers).

Then I was trying to work out if the ‘voice’ I hear when I read is my own, but actually I’m not sure it is because I don’t think it is enough of a sound to actually be a clear voice in that sense. However, when I recently read “The Girl Who Played with Fire”, I heard a lot of that as though a bloke with a Swedish accent was reading it, although that was because I listened to the previous book in that series as a talking book and it was read by a bloke with a Swedish accent and I was ‘hearing’ his voice.

The more I try and concentrate on what the voice sounds like, the more weird it becomes to think about it and it actually gives me a strange physical feeling in my head. I still can’t quite work out what it is that I hear beyond there being words.

We tested this last night (we really need to watch more television) and G seems not to hear the words really but sees the words on the page and almost just kind of “absorbs” them. Although, with real concentration, does seem to be able to hear a voice, but that isn’t the norm.

I need to stop thinking about this because the more I think about it, the more perplexing it becomes.

12 comments:

The Gripes of Wrath said...

Hmm. I think the voice I hear in my head when reading is generally the idealised me: slightly posher and less lazy of speech than the real me, far less nasal and generally warmer of tone. Unless I am reading "in someone else's voice" of course.(For example, I'm reading something on Shakespeare by Germaine Greer at the moment - and yes, I'm pretty much reading it in her voice. I would have to admit, it's annoying me a bit too, but hey ho!)

TOM FOOLERY said...

Hmmm, interesting. Some books talk to me some don't. I wonder why that is ? TFx

Random Reflections said...

Gripes - Do you sound a bit like Delia Smith in your head? What with the Norfolk connection...

I am not sure I would want to have Germaine Greer in my head. I think I would feel like I was being told off all the time. She has excellent taste in academic institutions though.

TF - Do you have a conversation with your books? I'm not sure that is entirely normal... but who am I to judge...

More seriously if a book doesn't talk to you how do you comprehend the words?

Kahless said...

Bloody hell!!! The voice is driving me mad now. It has no accent. It narrates what I read and also is speaking the words that I am typing now....

Arghh!!!!!!

Random Reflections said...

Kahless - I'm sorry. I have awoken a demon....

But do you think you have an accent? Has it maybe got your accent and you just can't hear it??

Should I be asking you questions about this, which might make you focus on the voice a bit more...?

Kahless said...

Well I can confirm that the voice speaks very good English.

Kahless said...

Oh, btw I was on the DLR this morning (I left home at 5am - poor me - and didnt get home til 8pm - poor me!)

and I looked out for you, but couldnt see you. I figured you would be reading a book, but I was squashed between some very tall people.

Random Reflections said...

Kahless - well, I would expect nothing less.

What a ridiculously early tome to start the day. Poor you indeed!

Sadly the DLR is not my transport mode each day. I think I have only ever been on it once or twice. Looking out for someone avidly reading a book would be a pretty good way to try and track me down. But if I was travelling on the DLR I think you might find me in the front carriage pretending to drive the train.

The Gripes of Wrath said...

Saint Delia (blessed be she) doesn't have a Norfolk accent, as any fule kno - she's from Woking, originally. .. As for me, well, I think my accent wanders around the south-east/midlands at will, with occasional sojourns to east coast scotland, but it's very hard to tell.

Random Reflections said...

Gripes - I take your point, but to be honest, I couldn't think of a single famous Norfolkian, so I got as close as I could... Are there any famous Norfolk people??

Having spoken to you, I wouldn't put you down as being of Norfolk origin. I guess due to your well-travelled nature you are probably a bit of a mixture of accents.

The Gripes of Wrath said...

Stephen Fry - Norfolk'n good
Bernard Matthews- turkey worrier (and one of my school's "Old Boys")
Phillip Pullman - ace children's writer
Beth Orton - folk wailer
Sir John Mills- luvvie extraordinaire


-All Norfolkers...Just thought I'd mention it...

Random Reflections said...

Gripes - What a fine list of locals. But in their defence, they hide it very well!