3.1071 writing by machine, reading aloud (147)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Mon, 19 Feb 90 17:38:43 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1071. Monday, 19 Feb 1990.

(1) Date: Mon, 19 Feb 90 12:16 PST (50 lines)
Subject: Re: 3.1058 Halio's article on machined writing, cont. (51)

(2) Date: Sun, 18 Feb 90 13:58:06 EST (16 lines)
From: "James S. Dalton" <USERGDY7@RPITSMTS>
Subject: 3.1041 decline of noisy reading? SGML and hypertext? (85)

(3) Date: Sun, 18 Feb 90 14:28:51 PST (57 lines)
From: DONWEBB@CALSTATE (Donald Webb)
Subject: Reading aloud

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 90 12:16 PST
Subject: Re: 3.1058 Halio's article on machined writing, cont. (51)

But of course this is mostly nonsense, pseudopsychosocioscience. ONe
chose the Mac because it was a Friendly interface once upon a time. It
was Xerox's idea a nd they failed to exploit it. The problem of
designing machines with people in mind, not engineers, is a design
problem, and the same for software. Sure the k ids, me too in
1984--because it was known to those who knew that for wordproces sing
IBM was hopeless, with hundreds of commands secretaries tacked on to
their keyboards, and programs that need who knows how many hours to
learn? --were so ld on the Mac's user friendliness, icons and pictures
and all that, pointing fo r commands, and to point and have the dumb
thing DO is a satisfaction of the in fantile desire of omnipotence
(Freud called it the omnipotence of thought), but still, I got the Mac,
whereas my wife had been on an Apple II for some years, and still is,
refusing to relearn new programs! languages, she calls them, or c odes
of operation for keyboards... nad plugged it in impatiently, and didnt
rea d the manual, and struggled for a hour with obvious differences
between IT and the Selectric IBM typewriter, and began to write a paper
that I needed to go ov erseas with in a week, and wrote it and printed
it and all and never learned at that time all the things one could do to
prepare a format for a readable paper . That told me something, as I
saw colleagues struggling with Nth commands and IBMs to learn to type,
all over again and get the things done... Friendliness f rom machines,
to b sure, not intimacy and cutesy sturf from the ads iswhat matt ers,
and all this pattern and reading stuff is rabbiting after funds for more
" studies." Enough of that is enough, even as a joke. Onde doesnt need
to read th e article by Halio, perhaps, to know it be a hoax in itself.
A joke on humorles s people like us'ns here? If not, really. You pays
your money and you takes you r choice, no? As for WRITING better
essays? Over 40 years have taught me this about students. If they have
to take Eng Comp to get through, and you tell stud ents theya re
seriously getting F's until they write a theme without more than 3 major
errors, like agreement of subject/verb, dangler, incongruity, etc., mix
ed figures and all, they will learn real fast. In a few weeks. If you
grade the m, as I have with F's until they get a b or c (the a's going
to the naturals an d well-prepared in secondary schl), then you get
results. Of course, in two yea rs when some of them return for advanced
exposition, or essay writing, one find s that even the former A students
start off with D and C again. It does not tak e. It takes only with
professionals, and even their MSS remain deplorable, your s and mine,
until rewritten and rewritten. We all know that. As for the sublite
ratues and illiterates we get by the million in the US, well neither Mac
nor I BM will help, since pen and paper are useless too. Dont tell the
Dean this. Tel l the taxpayers, tell the culture that demeans teachers
from 1st grade on. It i s an open secret. No amount of computer
teaching will change it, I fear.Kessler here, rather realistic after 39
years at it.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------22----
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 90 13:58:06 EST
From: "James S. Dalton" <USERGDY7@RPITSMTS>
Subject: 3.1041 decline of noisy reading? SGML and hypertext? (85)

Although I can't give specific advice on reading aloud, I do think
that the question has a broader context and that is the relationship of
the development of print in the late medieval and early modern period. I
would suggest that you look at the work of Fr. Walter Ong who argues that
print brought an end to oral culture in the West. There is also a volu-
minous literature on the impact of print media on modern Western cul-
ture. My suspicion is that this somewhat philosophical discussion might
provide a rich context for the habit of reading aloud (a survival

Jim Dalton
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------60----
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 90 14:28:51 PST
From: DONWEBB@CALSTATE (Donald Webb)
Subject: Reading aloud

Continuing Mark Riley's discussion on oral reading, it appears to me
that the texts that best lend themselves to reading aloud are those
which reproduce, at least to some extent, the rhythms of the spoken

It is not always easy to predict, at a glance, whether a story will be
easy to listen to. It's a good bet to choose stories with lots of
characters and dialogue, but they don't always work. Verse is often
entertaining to listen to, but not always: even if read expressively, a
monotonous rhythm may lull the listener into a slight trance - if not to
sleep - and lose the meaning. I have successfully read "Casey at the
Bat" to entertain kids - on one occasion - and to put them to sleep - on

The effectiveness of oral reading depends, obviously, on the reader's
skill in conveying the emotion of the passages. It helps to have a
knack for reading lines "cold," as it were, like an actor improvising
from a fresh script in a play reading. Not everybody can do that
without practice; some teachers, even though the local curriculum
requires daily oral reading, feel inadequate to the task. The reason
may be that oral reading - as opposed to the recitation of a memorized
text - requires a trace of the skill of the simultaneous interpreter:
the reader must be able to scan ahead even while speaking in order to
determine how the sentence is to be punctuated by intonation.

As for particular books, _Treasure Island_, which Mark mentioned, should
be excellent for a 9-year old. In my own experience, the classics are
usually dependable, but you can stumble over some unexpected and
sometimes unexplainable goodies: Patricia Clapp's gothic romance, _Jane
Emily_ made a spectacular hit, and I can't account for it. Likewise,
J.G. Ballard's "Build-Up," "The Voices of Time," and "The Waiting
Grounds" went over well, for some reason, but I was surprised that
school-age children found any reader interest in those stories.

More generally, Judy Blume's books seem to lend themselves to oral
reading, as do those of Beverly Cleary, Ruth Gannett and Bill Peet (my
favorite is _The Wump World_), to name only three authors... On the
other hand, _The Boxcar Children_ is also said to read well aloud, but
the rest of the series, apparently, does not. C.S. Lewis is a crashing
bore even for rapid-learner classes; his _Out of the Silent Planet_ (my
favorite) is best read silently. Maurice Sendak, among many others, has
some readable stories, but you have to pick and choose carefully; by age
8, children are moving from picture books to "chapter" books, even
though illustration remains crucial in marketing.

If others contribute their findings, we should be able to come up with a
nice list of books to read aloud and books better left for silent

Incidentally, I'm still looking for an old favorite of mine, which must
by now have become virtually a rare book: _The Sword and the Scythe_.
Anybody know where I can get a copy?