14 September 2011

Audiobooks, Place Names, and a Favorite Book

Besides working in the Library, I use library services to pursue personal interests.

(I believe in getting extremely good value for my property taxes and thus use the Library often. You should too! If you don’t already have a Library card, sign up now. September is “Library Card Sign-up Month,” after all.)

Because I do my best to keep my personal life separate from my working life, I don't usually share what I've read (or listened to) with others. (Librarians are private individuals, too.) However, I'm making an exception today. I'm writing about audio formats available through BCL, a pet peeve, and one of my favorite books all-in-one go.

For the most part, the only time I listen to the radio is in the car. I prefer NPR. The two men I live with (my husband and our youngest son) prefer Talk Radio or music stations. In other words, I usually get outvoted while traveling with them. Therefore, I select audiobooks from the Library that I want to listen to while on a road trip to accompany me on the journey. (There is such a thing as too much family togetherness.)


When selecting, I estimate the traveling time for the round trip. I'll browse the Audiobook section of the Beaufort Branch, my personal home library, looking for an audiobook approximately the length of my planned trip. (I usually don't plan far enough ahead of time to get audiobooks through SCLENDS. But if you're a better planner than I am, you can do that if you wish. You'll definitely have more titles to pick from that way).

Here are my audiobook choices in BCL for grown-ups:

1. Audiobooks on CDs
2. Audiobooks on Playaways
3. EBSCOhost Audiobook Collection

1. Audiobooks on CDs can be played in any CD player. When traveling alone, I listen through my vehicle's compact disk player. If I'm traveling with my family members, I can take along my ancient bulky disc player for the CDs.

2. Audiobooks on Playaways. A Playaway is a 3" by 2" self-contained MP3 audio recording player unit that can fit into one's pocket. It's very lightweight. Customers have to supply the battery (one AAA) and the ear pieces (buds or phones, depending on what one has).
(I've been rather lucky, about 50% of the Playaways I've checked out already had a battery in them. I consider this a random act of kindness from another lover of libraries.)

In my personal opinion, a Playaway seems more resistant to disruption due to movement than the older disc player. In other words, I can continue to listen while stretching my legs at the Rest Area. (My husband believes in 5 minute comfort breaks about once every 4 hours during a road trip.)

You can find the audiobooks on CD or Playaway listed in the SCLENDS catalog.
For purposes of illustration, I did an advanced catalog search, in the BCL only, of audiobooks on the subject of "Civil War," for adult customers, and got 28 hits. I wish that I could limit the search by length of the recording, but alas, the SCLENDS catalog advanced search screen does not provide this option.

3. From your home or office computer, Beaufort County Library also offers access to the EBSCO Host Audiobook Collection for our cardholders. Follow the directions to set up your account and to download audiobooks to your computer, MP3 player, or iPod. Not all titles are available in all three formats. As always, ask any of our Branch Library Reference Librarians for assistance.

Please note: The titles in the EBSCO Host Audiobook Collection are not listed in the SCLENDS catalog.


To keep me occupied in the car on the way to Norfolk in early August, I choose a Playaway loaded with Noah Andre Trudeau's biography of Robert E. Lee, read by Tom Weiner. Weiner has a deep bass masculine voice that I like. He has won an Earphones Award and been nominated for an Audie Award. He's well practiced at recording books.

All was going well until he came to the chapter about Lee's term of service here in Beaufort District. He butchered the place name of one of the former County seats of Beaufort, Coosawhatchie. He said "Coo suh waht chee." I groaned aloud - and shouted aloud -- "No! No!" My husband and son thought that we were about to be run over by a semi-truck or something!

Grace's Grumpy Gripe: Readers recording printed books should make certain that they pronounce local place names appropriately.


One of my favorite books is a little volume entitled Correct Mispronunciations of Some South Carolina Names by Claude and Irene Neuffer (1983). The preface states:
Among Americans, South Carolinians have done more than any other group to carry on the fine old English tradition of pronouncing a name one way and spelling it another...Of course, there is probably no word in the English language that isn't pronounced in different ways by different people, even if the differences are sometimes too subtle to be perceived by anyone other than a trained phoneticist. Which pronunciation is the 'correct' one? For the purposes of this little book we take the correct pronunciation of a family name to be the one the family uses, and the correct pronunciation of a place name to be the one that has traditionally been preferred by most reasonably well-educated people in the neighborhood... By 'correct mispronunciations' we mean, of course, pronunciations that are considered correct in South Carolina but will seem wrong to you if you've just arrived from Connecticut, bless your sun-seeking heart, and you've never been in the Palmetto State before. (pp. v-vii)

The Neuffers tell a joke that illustrates the pride we native South Carolinians take in our traditional pronunciations of our family and place names and what is perceived by many non-South Carolinians to be wacky spelling:

Three dogs meet at the Four Corners of Law (that is, the junction of Broad and Meeting Streets in Charleston). The first dog, a mongrel, says: "I'm from New York and my name is Spot. That's spelled S-P-O-T." The second dog, a German Shepherd, says "I'm from Ohio and my name is Rover. That's spelled R-O-V-E-R." The third dog, a French Poodle says "Welcome to Charleston. My name is Fido and that's spelled P-H-I-D-E-A-U-X." (pp. vi-vii)

Q: How should one correctly mispronounce "Coosawhatchie?"
A: According to the Neuffers: "Coosawhatchie KOO-suh-HATCH-i (OO as in booze.) The unknowing sometimes put the w in the third syllable (KOO-sa-WAHTCH-i). It's an Indian word that may mean cane-creek people." (p. 41)

My advice: In case of doubt on how to pronounce a South Carolina based family name or a place name, visit the BDC to consult Correct Mispronunciations of South Carolina Names. There are reference copies available at Beaufort Branch, Bluffton Branch, Hilton Head Branch, and Lobeco Branch as well.

1 comment:

Susan Nicholson said...

I enjoyed this blog as it highlights three of my favorite topics: the value and importance of libraries, audiobooks, and, tangentially, NPR. Though I sometimes feel I'm missing something wonderful on NPR, my default when commuting is the audiobook. I have favorites that I think have added significantly to my experience of particular books. Examples include "The Shipping News" by Annie Proulx, and, more recently, "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" by David Mitchell. Thanks Grace for mentioning the EBSCO collection. I was not aware of this!

Sue Nicholson