Speaking footnotes

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Post by Ramsey » January 1st, 2006, 12:22 pm

What's the best way to deal with footnotes?

- At the end of chapters?

- Does one flag in the text "footnote one here"?

- what should they be called? footnotes? chapter notes?

- should I interrupt the text and read the footnote at that point?


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Post by GordMackenzie » January 1st, 2006, 12:40 pm

We dealt with footnotes in James Fenimore Cooper's "The Spy".

Since the footnotes were written by Cooper himself (and not added later by an editor), we decided to include them.

My recommendation on how to present footnotes would be as in the following example:

"... numerous little valleys of Westchester. Begin Footnote: As each state of the American Union ... adjoining to the city. End Footnote. The easterly wind, with its..."

So, please say "begin footnote" to denote the start of a footnote and "end foodnote" to close the footnote and resume the main body of text.

The main question is whether the footnote text is integral to the main text, or whether it is supplementary. If it is supplementary and/or not added by the original author, then my position would be to not include it at all (but it will depend on the nature of the text).

Doing "chapter notes" at the end of recording just won't really work in an audio format (IMHO). I think the only alternative if the notes are important is to read them "inline" and break from the main text to read the note and then return to the main text after completing the note.
Gord Mackenzie
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Rev. Steve
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Post by Rev. Steve » January 1st, 2006, 3:14 pm

I agree that if footnotes are going to be read that they should be read in the body of the text, and not at the end. Trying to keep track of them other wise would be impossible for many listeners.

But footnotes are by definition supplementary information, and so a lot of care needs to be exercised in deciding whether to include them or not. I definitely agree that the notes added by later redactors need not be included, and that those included by the original author / publisher should be the only ones even considered.

But I would also want to be cautions about their inclusion in the text. If the author included a footnote, there is a reason the author chose to include the information in a footnote, and not include it in the main body of the text. Thus I think that inserting the text of the footnote at the exact place of the footnote is problematic ? if for no other reason it will break up the flow of the paragraph and drastically alter the flow of thought. I would rather see / hear a footnote included at the next logical break in the text, at the end of the paragraph the footnote is contained within for example.

Of course that is problematic too ? but there is no problem-less solution I can think of.

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Post by raynr » January 1st, 2006, 4:01 pm

In the communis manifesto (German version) I also included the footnotes in the body of the text. I read them (introduced by begin annotation and ending with end of annotation) at the exact place of the footnote. And to give the listener the opportunity to get his thoughts back on the main text again, I repeated the last sentence before the footnote.

I thought that to be useful, because it is basically the same way I read footnotes in texts when I read for myself.

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Post by Peter Why » January 2nd, 2006, 2:53 am

I've thought about this a little when I've been reading Terry Pratchett aloud to friends. Because the footnote breaks the flow of the narrative, if it's more than just a word or two, I tend to go back and re-read the sentence that had the footnote, to weld the main storyline back together.

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Post by Ramsey » January 6th, 2006, 12:39 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The footnotes do seem to be important and, yes, some are by the original author while others were added later for clarification. Yet others are references to works cited.

I guess what I need to consider is which ones clarify the original text and, given that this was written so long ago, consider whether modern-day readers would benefit from some of this clarification.

My sense is that I need to be selective, not just include a footnote simply because it was in the printed version.

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Post by MonicaV » January 16th, 2007, 6:37 am

I know I say this a lot, but I am against reading footnotes, because I have ADD and use listening to the audio to maintain focus on the story I am reading along. Even 10 seconds away from the story and I can lose focus and/or forget the idea of what I am reading.

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Post by Stephan » January 16th, 2007, 6:46 am

I don't think Librivox will set a fixed rule to read or not read footnotes, or read them in a certain way. The decision will be left to the book coordinator. That's because the book coordinator will most often know best whats good for the book.

What we need is a wiki-page or addendum to forum-faq, explaining the various possibilites to read footnotes, the ways to read them that proofed working well, in case bookcoordinators choose to read them.
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Post by hugh » January 16th, 2007, 8:12 am

footnotes are a pain, and we continue to struggle with them. putting them all at the end could be a good solution, and I think that's the first I have heard it suggested. the only problem would be figuring out how to indicate what the footnote was referring to?

sometimes footnotes add more depth to the text, and so they slot in easily. but other times they really distract things.

so somehow or other we must be flexible ... nothing concrete to add here, except my shared frustration that writers insisted on adding footnotes, without considering how they would be recorded by volunteer readers.

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Post by kri » January 16th, 2007, 3:55 pm

In response to you Monica, I agree with Stephan. I don't think we at LibriVox will ever take a solid stance on footnotes. I think we deal with it best by letting whoever is in charge of the project decide (the coordinator for a group project, and the soloist for a solo project).

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Post by GordMackenzie » January 16th, 2007, 7:52 pm

It might be worthwhile to indicate how footnotes are handled in the book's summary in the catalog (e.g. "footnotes inline", "footnotes at chapter end", "footnotes omitted"). At least this way listeners can be forewarned. Those with strong feelings about footnotes could stay away from a particular format.

It is, of course, also possible that a book could be recorded (or edited?) in more than one way. If someone had the time and inclination to do this, editing recordings to place the footnotes at the end (or remove them completely) would not be impossible.
Gord Mackenzie
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