May 13, 2013

Posted by in Question | 7 Comments

Question – How Do You Read Italics?

italicMore and more, I’m noticing urban fantasy and paranormal romance authors writing certain words using italic font.  Words like “change” or “shift” or “call” for example.  They italicize these words to show that they mean something a little different than what they would normally mean.  Like ‘change‘ might mean to turn into a wolf as opposed to change pants.  Or ‘call‘ might mean to call upon your pack as opposed to picking up your phone and dialing your mommy.

For some reason when I come across an italicized word in a book, I immediately read it slower than usual.  And I mean, I drag it out.  Why?  I have no idea.  But that’s not even the worst of it.  I also read it in a much deeper tone of voice.  What’s with that?!  So not only do I draaaaag out the word but the voice inside my head suddenly reads it like James Earl Jones!

I am aware that is weird but it is what is it.  Don’t judge.  😉

What about you?  Do you change the voice in your head when you read a italic word?  Or do you read it like all the other words?  How do you read italics?

  1. Sapphire says:

    The word gets emphasized by my mind-voice. It gets spoken a little stronger but the tone of voice doesn’t change. I guess he inflection is what’s changing. Idk how to describe it.

  2. I typed up my answer to this question yesterday for my Wednesday post and by the time I was done I was like “Is this weird?” LOL Your questions have a way of making me feel like a freak sometimes. Oh well, it’s all in good fun. 🙂

  3. Northwoman says:

    I read them as emphasized. I have also seen them used to indicate what a person is thinking in their head instead of saying out loud.

  4. *shrugs* I just read it

  5. Of course you read italicized text more slowly, since you have to figure out why it’s different. It could be the title of something, since titles are supposed to be in italics these days. Some authors use them to denote thoughts that are not spoken out loud. For words that are meant to express something other than their conventional meanings, I’m more used to seeing quotation marks. Single words in italics play in my mind as slower and more heavily stressed than words in regular font, but I don’t hear any change in pitch. Personally, I prefer that authors use both quotes (apart from indicating dialog) and italics sparingly. For my greatest reading pleasure, everything an author does should facilitate uninterrupted scanning. Grammar mistakes, confusion about which line of dialog is being spoken by which character, spelling errors and peculiar punctuation all call attention to themselves and jerk me out of the story. I deeply appreciate the professionalism of authors who keep that to a minimum.

  6. I think I read it just like the rest of the text… You are weird and funny and I’m very kind. LOL

  7. Jessica says:

    Oh wow! I haven’t noticed this wacky new trend. Maybe I’m just not paying close enough attention. I’m used to seeing italics used to denote the internal monolog of the character as Mzcue pointed out. When reading this type of italics, I hear my own version of the character’s voice in my head, often with ironic or sarcastic undertones depending on the nature of the thoughts.

    However if I did see “change” or some other word in italics, I’d probably pause the first time I read it and try to figure out why the heck the author chose to put that in italics and then continue to read on, ignoring the superfluous italics, and reading those words just like any other word.

    The only ones that would get me to keep pausing would be words I can’t pronounce. Often fantasyesque words in another language. Doesn’t Kevin Hearn put his Celtic words in italics? AND he includes a “how to pronounce” guide in the start of his books, which is like a curse on an anal retentive reader like me because I feel the need to stop every time I see a ridiculously spelled Celtic word and try to pronounce it properly. *sheepish grin* : )

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