Saturday, February 06, 2010

Spot the mistake

In the book I'm reading the narrator discovers someone on the point of death:
The body... sucked in a shuddering breath... and then... exhaled it in a single word...

'Vale!' it said.
A little later the narrator looks the word up in the dictionary:
What was that word the stranger had breathed in my face? 'Vale!' That was it!

...here it was: vale... It was pronounced val-eh...

Am I the only person to see something wrong here?

When someone says something to me I know how it is pronounced but not necessarily how it is spelt. In this story, the narrator knows how to spell a word she has heard but not how it sounds. How is that possible? It pulled me right out of the story.

34 COMMENTS:

Whirlochre said...

"Vale"?

If I was exhaling something on the point of death, I'd go with "untie the rope round my neck", "get this knife out of my head" or "turn the electricity generator off" — please.

McKoala said...

Agree. With Whirl and you.

Old Kitty said...

Hi

I must remember not to make such a mistake!

Kind of off-topic - going to a Catholic school in Norf London, I was mates with this girl who, when introduced, said her name was Shevon.

It was only later, much, much later that I realised her name was spelt Siobhan.

It's like Hermione (many a heroine in stories) and only later did I realise after watching Harry Potter that it was pronound Her-my-nee.

:-)

Take care
x

Lindsey Himmler said...

I'm with you. That's weird. And it's a weak two-syllable. Someone dying might not even pronounce that last syllable in a weak breath, right?

fairyhedgehog said...

Whirl, that's a good point!

McK, that's three of us then.

Kitty, for me it was conspicuous. I always pronounced it in my head as conspicious.

Lindsey, I hadn't thought of that!

maybe genius said...

I was... suffering from ellipses... overload, myself. Yikes...

fairyhedgehog said...

maybe, very funny! I laughed at your comment but the text was too long not to cut it.

Rebecca Lynn said...

@Whirlochre: that was hilarious!

I agree, too, that would totally take me out of a story. It's details like these that make me put books down. Or throw them across the room.

Kevin Musgrove said...

perhaps it was a very cold day and he'd spelled it out with his last, frosted breath...?

nah.

fairyhedgehog said...

Rebecca, I did manage not to throw it!

Kevin, that's a brilliant idea. A pity the author didn't think of it.

After a slow start, the book is actually not bad.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Maybe the writer's Canadian, eh? Or would that be the dying body was Canadian?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Oops - my fault. It was a Canadian dictionary.

Amanda Bennett said...

Yeah that would definitely suspend the whole disbelief. Maybe they thought they were writing a screenplay where it wouldn't be so bad.

stacy said...

Hah - I'm not sure I would have caught that. But yeah, I see what you're saying.

Bevie said...

What great attention to detail you have!

Can't say I would have caught it. It would depend on how "into" the story I was. The more into it, the more likely I would catch it. But not necessarily.

Robin S. said...

Yeah- that was a silly thing to do, since the reader had already pronounced the word in his or her head, and the speaker had already spoken it! It would've pulled me out, too, FH, if it came close enough after the death. But if I were reading quickly and enjoying the ride, I'm not sure I'd have thought about that.

I've seen things in books that I've read several times - but if i really enjoyed them, it took the several times to find 'the things'.

fairyhedgehog said...

Sarah, that's very funny! I like the idea of the Canadian dictionary.

Amanda, I'm not sure how they'd manage it in a screen play. I think she'd have heard the word as "valet", given that she uses that word in the book! It would be the spelling that would be a surprise.

stacy and Bevie, it wasn't so much attention to detail as that it jumped out at me!

Robin, I do miss some things if I'm enjoying a book and I'd have liked to have missed this one. Never mind, the book gets better.

Peter Dudley said...

Did the writer then go on to say, "... it was a word used to express leave-taking or farewell, and it came from the Latin, an imperative of valere, which meant to be strong or well."

fairyhedgehog said...

Peter, pretty much, yes. I take it you know the book?

David said...

Especially when you have the unrealistic deathbed clue convention to swallow as well. If someone has only enough breath for one word, it probably won't be clear or loud.

Peter Dudley said...

ha ha, no, I don't know the book. Unbelievable.

fairyhedgehog said...

David, for some reason the unrealistic death bed clue didn't worry me. I think it's because I can cope with things that are extremely unlikely but not with things that are self-contradictory.

Peter, I really thought you must have read the book!

Richard N said...

I'm so not getting into the 'Canadian dictionary' thing...

(I'm married to a Canadian and value my life!)

fairyhedgehog said...

You're a wise man, Richard!

Richard N said...

FH, that's not something I hear said very often!

fairyhedgehog said...

Richard, I'm sure Babs says it every time you agree with her!

writtenwyrdd said...

Are you reading The Sweetness At The Bottom of the Pie? I loved that book.

But your point is well made.

fairyhedgehog said...

Yes I am, writtenwyrdd. I've partly enjoyed it but it has a few flaws that put me off.

Lisa said...

I like Whirlochre's response. I didn't like how any of the lines read. so that line ...here it was: .... was part of the story.
Other than this, do you like this story?
I'm currently rereading a beta story by Tia Nevitt's , "Forging a Legend" - I SO hope it gets published, it is fantastic.

fairyhedgehog said...

Lisa, yes trust Whirl to get straight to the point! I thought the story was a mixture of enjoyable and stretching disbelief too far and I didn't feel that the ending rounded it off well enough. I'll give the next one by the same author a go though.

writtenwyrdd said...

Funny how different people have different takes. I thought it was one of the best non-spec fic books I've read in years. And I loved the ending, how the two investigations played off against each other. The big problem was that Flavia seems like a 40-year-old in a child's body.

fairyhedgehog said...

writtenwyrdd, I could see its good points but the ending wasn't one of them for me. I did have trouble with Flavia as an eleven year old. Fifteen or so I might have believed more easily.

sylvia said...

How depressing that no one caught that error before it went to print! I blame the beta readers :)

I hate things like that because although logically I knew it's a simple error that can happily easily when trying to keep a full novel in your head, emotionally I have a loss of faith in the story/author and I find it hard to "let go" after that.

fairyhedgehog said...

sylvia, it is a pity. I found it hard to get back into the book and it niggled for a while.

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