Thursday, June 08, 2017

"Yes, I have been drugged, but not by any psychic": What mistakes do audiobooks make?

The quoted bit from this post's title is taken from an Audible audio edition of John Buchan's novel Greenmantle, as read by Felbrigg Napoleon Herriot. The passage is apt to conjure entertaining visions of a storefront card reader conjuring spells, but it's not what Buchan wrote. Here's the passage as it appears in print, highlighting mine:
"'Drugged,' he cried, with a weary laugh. 'Yes, I have been drugged, but not by any physic.' "
But there's more. That book and the same narrator's reading of Mr. Standfast, third of Buchan's Richard Hannay novels, after The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle, include the following:
  • Indegefatigable where Buchan wrote indefatigable
  • Factum where Buchan wrote factotum
  • St. Pacreas at least twice for St. Pancras
  • "Every Boy Scout is am amateur detective and hungry for knowledge. I was followed by several who piled (sic, instead of plied) me with questions."
  • The pronunciation Ameans for Amiens, and Louis Kwinz for Louis Quinze
  • Portmant-yew and tonn-yew for portmanteau and tonneau
  • Chamonoy for Chamonix
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The fifth item on the list reflects English pronunciation of French names. The sixth and seventh are pronunciations neither English nor French. Are they regional pronunciations I don't know? Misapplied erudition on the narrator's part?

Elsewhere, Herriot pronounces row, for a noisy disturbance, correctly, to rhyme with now, but also as in the first part of rowboat. The latter may be carelessness, or it may reflect an inconsistency of pronunciation that anyone might fall into.   This raises my questions to you, readers: What sorts of lapses and distractions are audiobooks uniquely vulnerable to? Conversely, what pleasures do audiobooks afford that printed books cannot?

© Peter Rozovsky 2017

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Felbrigg Napoleon Herriot sounds like the sort of shady character played by Groucho Marx or W.C. Fields - is that his real name?

June 08, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It is a terrific name, isn't it? Thing he's a fine narrator despite the mistakes.

June 08, 2017  

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