Read v Said


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Thread: Read v Said

  1. #1

    Read v Said

    Can't seem to find an authority on this...

    Population 6,532, the town's sign read

    versus

    Population 6,532, the town's sign said

    I want to go with read instead of said, because signs don't (typically) talk...but I am cognizant that usually in common, informal parlance most people would probably use 'said' to refer to what they see on signs, newspaper headlines, t-shirts, etc.

    If it matters: This is first person, the POV character not educated or anything but pretty grammatically consistent - there's no dialect or dressups - and it's not in dialogue (if it was I'd use whatever sounded right).

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Can't seem to find an authority on this...

    Population 6,532, the town's sign read

    versus

    Population 6,532, the town's sign said

    I want to go with read instead of said, because signs don't (typically) talk...but I am cognizant that usually in common, informal parlance most people would probably use 'said' to refer to what they see on signs, newspaper headlines, t-shirts, etc.

    If it matters: This is first person, the POV character not educated or anything but pretty grammatically consistent - there's no dialect or dressups - and it's not in dialogue (if it was I'd use whatever sounded right).
    I suppose either works, but I think the POV character would swing me towards "said" due to "This is first person, the POV character not educated or anything".
    If the POV character had some education, I might opt for "read".

    However, could this also be regional? I'm in the UK without much formal education.

    At a slight push, I think either would work though.


  3. #3
    I'd agreee with Phil in that if it's from a POV character, their voice might influence it. If you're looking at more distant perspective or even 3rd person limited, I might be inclined to detail it a bit more, and get round it that way; eg:

    "Population 6,532, according to the white lettering on the the sign"

    EDIT: D'uh, you did say it's first person. Hmm. I guess the above could still apply though...


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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Can't seem to find an authority on this...

    Population 6,532, the town's sign read

    versus

    Population 6,532, the town's sign said

    I want to go with read instead of said, because signs don't (typically) talk...but I am cognizant that usually in common, informal parlance most people would probably use 'said' to refer to what they see on signs, newspaper headlines, t-shirts, etc.

    If it matters: This is first person, the POV character not educated or anything but pretty grammatically consistent - there's no dialect or dressups - and it's not in dialogue (if it was I'd use whatever sounded right).
    If it's 1st pov, the narrative should reflect character as much as the dialogue. It's why 1st person narration is classed as 'protected speech'. It shouldn't be edited with standard English in mind, but character 'voice' and all its flavour. I'd run with however your character would:

    Population 6,532, or so the sign cried out as I sped by.
    Last edited by Aquilo; September 19th, 2019 at 12:29 PM.
    "You don't wanna ride the bus like this,"

    Mike Posner.



  5. #5
    I'm with Phil, but it's all up to your character because it's first-person.

    Welcome to Innsmouth, the sign said. Population six-thousand-three-hundred-and-something. I didn't finish. Such a big town to have so few people. Weird.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Aquilo View Post
    If it's 1st pov, the narrative should reflect character as much as the dialogue. It's why 1st person narration is classed as 'protected speech'. It shouldn't be edited with standard English in mind, but character 'voice' and all its flavour. I'd run with however your character would:

    Population 6,532, or so the sign cried out as I sped by.
    Yeah. I guess the thing that makes it hard is...I'm not really sure which they'd say. They're from here in the US and I've heard both used. I guess the biggest issue is I don't really know which they would use because it's not something I considered.

    The narrative itself is written in retrospect. It's not ever specified but the tone is that of a memoir or some kind of confessional - there's numerous references to remembering the events - "I remember thinking...". For that reason there's a little more formality to it than as though they were telling the story conversationally.

    The character's dialogue is definitely very different to their narrative. They use more sophisticated language to tell the story than they speak with in the story - if that makes sense? The actual character starts off as a troubled kid, a high-school dropout with a methamphetamine addiction, and the story is redemptive so the narrative voice is supposed to be the older, wiser version reflecting on things. So it's more about figuring the kind of words he would use as a narrator than as a character?

    Ugh, I don't know. I suppose if there's no consensus I'll just use 'said'.

  7. #7
    Oh, geez, if it's retrospective, you probably shouldn't specify the number on the sign anyway. Who remembers shizznit like that?

    "Said"'s functionally invisible--especially by comparison to "read"--so stick with it. "Read" also sounds more active for some reason, and we don't want active signs unless they're really eye-popping and say something super important.

    Like this one:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    We've got a sign company here in Indy that not only has vans like this, but giant billboards along freeways and around the business. I wouldn't be surprised if there have been accidents because of these stupid things.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    Oh, geez, if it's retrospective, you probably shouldn't specify the number on the sign anyway. Who remembers shizznit like that?
    This narrator does. He's a time traveler whose arc includes the rediscovery of his once-shot memory. Memory is actually a key theme of the book.

    There's also a license with this stuff, isn't there? In real life I barely remember what happened last week in any detailed sense, but in fictional reminiscences the recollection has to be more profound than "Something happened...and then I was...um...I went to Wendy's I think, or maybe it was Taco Bell." I certainly wouldn't be able to recall much dialogue. In most memoir there's a ton of details given that couldn't possibly by recalled accurately by a normal person over a long span of time.

  9. #9
    Said would be dialogue appropriate.
    Read would be narrator appropriate.

  10. #10
    I sped by and noticed that "Population 6,532" was emblazoned (up)on the sign.


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