Thursday, February 5, 2015


Footnotes: Not a particularly exciting topic, to be sure. But I think they deserve a little attention.

I've been thinking about footnotes this week, because we're reading something written during a time with a different set of slang and common vocabulary than what we use today. Most modern editions of classic literature will include footnotes to explain some of the potentially more confusing words. (Though, I do have to admit, it makes me feel really good when I run across one that makes me think, "Duh.")

Sometimes I really appreciate these footnotes, especially when the author incorporates a phonetic spelling of dialect. It can be really difficult to decipher some of that.

On the other hand, I think they can be really distracting. The ones with superscript numbers can be a little more helpful, because you know when to look for a footnote and when you're not going to get an explanation of something. But the edition of Wuthering Heights I have, for example, doesn't have the superscript numbers, so every time I turn to a new page, I check the bottom to see if I'm going to run across a term the book thinks I probably don't know. It can slow down the reading process and breaks up the story into segments between words you have to look up.

How do you feel about footnotes? Love them? Hate them? Begrudgingly accept them as a necessary evil?

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