Discussion Forums - Classic Literature

Topic: Appropriate Verbs for Reading Tempos

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Appropriate Verbs for Reading Tempos
Date Posted: 3/8/2010 4:15 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

When the ESOL students I taught were "advanced" in their acquisition of the English language, I sometimes did a vocabulary enhancement exercise with them, in which we worked with a  'main' verb, with a sizeable list of related verbs.  For example, for locomotion, start with the verb "to walk" and consider the variations . . . . toddle, march, strut, swagger,saunter, amble,  limp, trudge, plod . . . . . . .etc. etc. etc.  Later, I would ask the students to make complete sentences in English (oraciones completas en ingles), using one of the verbs.

Recently, while reading one of those books with compound, complex sentences that long-winded, old-timey authors used to employ, regularly, it occurred to me that different styles of writing require different reading tempi (plural?) of the reader.  I would say that the book I am reading now is one that the reader 'trudges' through.  And to me, that means a steady, determined pace, that will bring the one moving at that pace to the destination that he/she has determined upon.  I don't mean this word in a pejorative way, here.

By way of contrast, I have read (once in a while, though not often) a book that I could just "skip" through.  At the other extreme, my sneaking suspicion is that if and when I attempt War and Peace, the descriptive verb may be "slog" through....hmmmmm.

I wonder if murder mystery readers can be said to "race" through a mystery?   Or romance readers to "stroll" through a lovestory?  Do Westerns readers "gallop" or "lope" through such books?  OK, OK, I'll stop now . . . . .



Last Edited on: 3/8/10 4:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/8/2010 4:44 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

LOL, I have indeed felt that I "raced" through a mystery. . . however, this pace was usually not to my benefit, as it left me out of breath at the end and I was aware that I had missed some (okay, all) of the scenery. . .

Now what verb for the SF and fantasy novels I read? May I co-opt gallop from the Western readers, for my fantasy novels? I suppose if they want to keep gallop I can always trot or canter. . . though those verbs only work for certain types of fantasy novels, the more adventure-oriented ones rather than the political ones. . . for SF I am at a loss.

I had to trudge through my last Classics Challenge book, and I get what you mean about that not being pejorative. . . it just took conscious effort to read each word in each sentence -- not that there was anything bad about that, but the reading was not the effortless lope (now there's a word that doesn't get used enough) that other books are for me. . .

Skipping I reserve for rereads. . . or at least I try to. I do notice, with some of my favorite authors that favor plot and character over prose, that my eye has a tendency to skip the first time through because I'm so eager to find out what happens next. . . and then on rereading I force myself to stroll leisurely so I can pick up on the less exciting but no less wonderful bits I accidentally skipped over the first time.

Date Posted: 3/9/2010 5:37 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

PhoenixFalls:   Enjoyed your response to my oddball thought about paces (or gaits?) for reading.  Just one small quibble----I didn't mean "skip" in the sense of "omit" or "slide past", I meant "skip" in the sense of what one does on the way home from kindergarten in the springtime......remember?   I agree that  "lope" is a really good action verb that could be correctly used more often than it seems to be.

Date Posted: 3/9/2010 5:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

I got what you meant by skip. . . and when I read in that fashion it isn't that I'm not reading all the words. . . it's more that I'm skittering across the text of each line, absorbing the plot and dialogue and letting the description whoosh past me. . . skipping as opposed to strolling, a little jerkier and much faster, but exhilirating.

And I don't know about you, but I still skip. I've never understood why kindergarteners get to have all the fun. ;)

Date Posted: 3/9/2010 8:26 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,450
Back To Top

On subject, I don'tknow: I am reminded of a fairly recent thread concerning "speed-reading" and some of the rather extravagant claims of comprehension while doing same. Most murder mysteries (Elizabeth George an imminent exception) and all pulp fiction can be galloped through with no loss (though I question that there ever was much potential for gain unless said books are being read to combat imsomnia). On the other hand, I seriously question any who would claim to be able to gallop or even march through serious works of history (like any history of Russia, China, or India) where it requires a big scorecard to keep up with the players and so many changes were so important). And when it comes to works of philosophy (John Rawls comes to mind) even ploughing over it three or four times won't cut it unless your knowledge of all philosophers after Kant isn't comsiderable.

And what verbs describe just about all of the really great writers and poets when savoring the way they use the language because that is what makes them great?

Date Posted: 3/10/2010 3:49 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2,016
Back To Top

Interesting topic, Mizzou! This releases memories of my ninth grade English teacher, deemed witch-like by many classmates by her demanding demeanor and assignments,  whose first set of assignments directed us to cut out "boring verbs" from our writing and acquainted us with the thesaurus...

 

May I submit that more descriptive versions of  verbs other than motion verbs can be used to connote the pace and tempo of reading?

"to say"  I'm stuttering through this book I keep in my bag right now.

(to imply I read it in stop-and-go fits, only when I'm out. maybe this only makes sense to me because I "hear" myself reading in my head.)  

"to eat/drink/taste" She gulped down the book about Southern cooking in one sitting.

and maybe "to dig,"  "to attack," and possibly "to cook"?

 

I don't remember Rawls to be that impenetrable, John. He writes in long complicated sentences but there aren't too many direct references to other philosophers. Reading Kant, on the other hand ...

I tend to think of reading works of philosophy as more akin to studying blueprints and trying to build that structure in your mind.

Date Posted: 3/11/2010 8:33 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

John and Sophia:  I really can't comment on reading philosophy, because I don't know very much at all about it.  The last thing that even resembled philosophy in my reading was that Norwegian fellow's book, Sophie's World.   But now, as for poetry-----I get out my A Treasury of Great Poems-English and American every so often, to re-read some old bit (or considerable slug) of verse I'm fond of. 

So, I would submit that reading, or re-reading poetry, is like going for a leisurely ramble, through the woods, along the water, in the canyon, etc., where one has been so many times before, and the route is familiar and  dear.   It's anything but exploring, although, upon revisiting such a spot, you may indeed come upon something that you didn't see before . . . .  I hope this makes some sense to you all . . . . . .

Date Posted: 3/16/2010 2:49 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
Back To Top

I am just consuming The Longest Day. I can't wait for the evening when I finally get my chance to read it. D-Day is so dang interesting.



Last Edited on: 3/16/10 2:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/16/2010 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
Back To Top

I am reminded of a fairly recent thread concerning "speed-reading" and some of the rather extravagant claims of comprehension while doing same.

 I just don't believe anyone can read 800, 900 or 1,000 wpm and know what the heck they've just plowed through. This type of reading is like a hot dog or pie eating contest. It leaves you overstuffed and probably sick. Besides, what the heck did you win? Not even a ribbon in this case.

Date Posted: 3/18/2010 8:24 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

Tome Trader:  I had to grin at your simile about 'speed reading' and hot dog eating contests----BUT

maybe a New Yorker would say that a reading a good novel is like having one of those famed Nathan's hot dogs . . . ?  I'm afraid when I give the Old Man a Buckeye wiener on a bun for lunch next time, I'm gonna be grinning at the recollection of your post.  Thanx