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Is the parenthetical "read" pronounced "reed" or "red"?
August 18, 2010 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Is the parenthetical "read" pronounced "reed" or "red"?

When I come across a sentence such as:

"Tom said he needed to check on his car (read: needed a smoke), and would be right back."

How do I pronounce "read"?
posted by SNACKeR to Society & Culture (34 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would say "reed". At least that's what I do.
posted by Nabubrush at 4:32 PM on August 18, 2010


I believe it's "reed" because it's being used like "Tom said he needed to check in on his car (which you should read as he needed a smoke)..."
posted by dayintoday at 4:33 PM on August 18, 2010


Read

Bonus: Read
posted by Greg Nog at 4:34 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reed.

It is telling you to do something in the present, hence the present tense.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:34 PM on August 18, 2010


@dayintoday: but it could also be (which is read as he needed a smoke), thus my dilemma.
posted by SNACKeR at 4:35 PM on August 18, 2010


"Reed," as in "please read this as ___," not "this should be read as ___." Previously.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:36 PM on August 18, 2010


I had forgotten about that, Greg. That's fun.
posted by Nabubrush at 4:37 PM on August 18, 2010


In my head, it is always "red". Since I never read out loud anyway, I can use whatever I like when I am self talking!!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:38 PM on August 18, 2010


@Greg: ouch, double post. I never dreamed this question would have been asked already. I should know better! Still trying to parse the answers - a lot of people seeing it is because it is...
posted by SNACKeR at 4:40 PM on August 18, 2010


Reed. I'm gonna go ahead and close this now because it has been authoritatively answered in the previous thread.
posted by fixedgear at 4:41 PM on August 18, 2010


I think "red", and I always assumed that it's short for "to be read as".

I was (until reading your question) pretty sure that's how other people use it too.

In Australia anyway.
posted by antiquark at 4:46 PM on August 18, 2010


I give this word with two different pronunciations, depending on its usage.

Mornings, I take it as read (red) that the computer will already be in use (read [reed]: that my little boy will be on Lego.com as early as possible).
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:52 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Reed. I'm gonna go ahead and close this now because it has been authoritatively answered in the previous thread.

Yeah, there's really no question about it. The traditional/"correct" answer is "reed," because it's in the imperative. People make up justifications for their personal/"incorrect" usage, but people are good at rationalization. It's all hashed out at ridiculous length in the earlier thread.
posted by languagehat at 4:58 PM on August 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's an implicit command to the reader to do something now" "you read (this in this manner)", so it's Second Person Singular Present Imperative, so it's pronounced "reed".
posted by orthogonality at 5:03 PM on August 18, 2010


@Greg: ouch, double post. I never dreamed this question would have been asked already.

FYI, Google is useful for this.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:07 PM on August 18, 2010


It's "red", because its usage is passive. It is being read-as, it is not instructing you to read.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:09 PM on August 18, 2010


It's short for "which is read as" and you'd use the red pronunciation in that case.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:14 PM on August 18, 2010


No it's not.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:21 PM on August 18, 2010


Oh my god. This again? Reed. It is pronounced reed.

"Mary Agnes has such a nice personality! (Read: she is unattractive)."

That is - as I said in that other heinous thread - the "read: [blah]" construction is in fact instructing you to take the author's meaning as the [blah].
posted by rtha at 5:33 PM on August 18, 2010


Posted too soon; meant to add:

It's short for "which is read as" and you'd use the red pronunciation in that case.


No. It's shorthand for "which you, dear reader, should read as" where read is pronounced "reed."

From languagehat's OED cite in that other thread:

9. a. To adopt, give, or exhibit as a reading in a particular passage. Hence, to substitute or understand for (what is said or written).
1659 HAMMOND Acts xv. Annot., The Æthiopick and other interpreters retain.., what you would not have done to your selves, do not ye to another,.. for which other Jewish writers read, doing as they would be done to. 1697 BENTLEY Phal. 20, I cannot..comprehend why the most learned Is. Casaubon will read σπεύδοντα in this passage, and not σπένδοντα. 1759 RUDDIMAN Animadver. Vind. Buchanan 60 Instead of.. sexagesimo quinto, we should read,.. sexagesimo nono. 1847 MADDEN Layamon's Brut. III. 346 For Lovaine some copies of Wace read Alemaigne. 1868 M. E. G. DUFF Pol. Survey 16 For monasteries, we should read convents, mission-houses, and seminaries. 1966 ‘A. HALL’ 9th Directive xxi. 193 For snatch read abduction. For swop read exchange. Never a bloody spade. 1967 Listener 4 May 593/2 Links between the cultures of ‘Indonesia’ (read southeast Asia) and west and central Africa.

Emphasis mine.
posted by rtha at 5:39 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is MetaFilter! We should be able to deal with MetaReadings, amirite?

It is an instruction (present tense) that is outside of the narrative being read (red). And this time OED (Linked in the previously) is on my side! Yea!
posted by Some1 at 5:40 PM on August 18, 2010


It's an imperative.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:56 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


It can be read as an imperative, and there is apparently a historical use as an imperative although the OED doesn't really show there's a linkage just by itself, does it now? What if other parenthetical uses had become common around the same time? What the OED sample shows is like you're looking slowly up a sundae, "one inch up, ice cream... two inches up, ice cream... three inches up, ice cream... four inches up, there's a red thing on top—it must be ice cream!"

Are (i.e. ...) and (e.g. ....) imperative? What if it is ambiguous; can one person use it one time and mean, "read this as", and another person use it another time and mean, "this should be read as"? Why the fuck not?

I'm just a mullet-headed untermensch, but I think the case for 'reed' that gets touted by some people with such anger and arrogance and douchery is pretty fucking weak.
posted by fleacircus at 6:15 PM on August 18, 2010


It's pronounced "reed", but I still pronounce it as "red" in my head, and it still makes the same amount of sense to me nevertheless. I find my insistence on incorrect-pronunciation-in-my-head quite charming, but for pete's sake, don't tell anybody, I'd be though quite the fool.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:56 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


My ex-wife was convinced that venison was pronounced "vention" as in "con-vention."

Even she, dear OP, was well aware that "read" is an imperative in this instance: "reed."

Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:56 PM on August 18, 2010


OMG people. Reed. Asked and answered.
posted by Put the kettle on at 6:58 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone one mispronounced another word, therefore I am right...

I think the case for 'reed' ... is pretty fucking weak.

I should have said, what is most convincing is not the details of their arguments, but that they are so sure they are right; pronounce it 'reed' for highest conversational utility.
posted by fleacircus at 7:04 PM on August 18, 2010


Why is everyone talking about how it's pronounced, when what's important is what it means? The former just derives from the latter. If you're Scots, you might pronounce it something like "rid" but that doesn't answer the actual question.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:02 PM on August 18, 2010


It's short for "which is read as" and you'd use the red pronunciation in that case.

Didn't learn from the salty beer thing, then?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:38 PM on August 18, 2010


Kinda like stage directions in a play script, I always figured, which are most often given in the present tense, right? So, "reed".
posted by 5Q7 at 9:29 PM on August 18, 2010


Reed (as I voted last time this came around).

Also "Mee-Fy" not "Mehfi"
posted by pompomtom at 9:51 PM on August 18, 2010


I've been trying to talk myself out of joining the fray, but I've been unsuccessful.

"Reed," present tense, imperative, because of the historical usage cited by languagehat.

but it could also be (which is read as he needed a smoke), thus my dilemma.

No, that doesn't quite work. "needed to check on his car (which is read as: needed a smoke)" implies that "needs to check on one's car" is generally read as "needs a smoke." "‘Indonesia’ (which is read as southeast Asia)" implies that "‘Indonesia’ is generally read southeast Asia." It's like "Gertrude (called Gertie)": the person formally named Gertrude is generally called Gertie. Or "Rudbeckia hirta (known as black-eyed susans)": Rudbeckia hirta is generally known as black-eyed susans.

But the point (and even the joke) of "Tom said he needed to check on his car (read: needed a smoke)" is that although "check on one's car" generally means "check on one's car," in this case, you should understand that Tom is really having a smoke. You, right now, as you read/hear this sentence, should mentally substitute "needed a smoke" in the place of "needed to check on his car." Same with the last example from the OED. "Indonesia" is not generally understood to mean (be read as) "southeast Asia," but in this particular case, for whatever reason, you, right now, are being commanded to substitute (read) "southeast Asia" in the place of "Indonesia." Present tense imperative. Pronounced "reed."

There are evidently a lot of people around who believe that "read" in the construction "abc (read: xyz)" is in the passive voice. They may be writing sentences where they intend for "read" to be pronounced "red." So it's hard to give a definitive answer about how "read" should be pronounced in every possible case. However, if you want to follow tradition and use the construction in the manner in which it evolved historically, pronounce it "reed."
posted by Orinda at 10:35 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, that doesn't quite work. "needed to check on his car (which is read as: needed a smoke)" implies that "needs to check on one's car" is generally read as "needs a smoke."

Your example isn't decisive, because it could just as easily be "needed to check on his car (which is to be read, in this case, as: needed a smoke)".

Just reasoning a priori there are sensible rationales for either choice. Just giving our rationales doesn't settle anything, since they both work fine.

But as it happens there's a history of one being the longer-attested sense ("which we should read as"), and also one is the accepted sense among people who pay attention to this stuff (again, "reed"). So for historical reasons and reasons of saving face if you have to pronounce it and you want to be in the mainstream of pronunciation, use the imperative sense, "reed".
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:51 PM on August 18, 2010


How about "read receipt" in Outlook? Past-tense "red" as it marks mail which has been read?
posted by Pomo at 7:56 AM on August 19, 2010


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