Reading aloud

The other day our babysitter told me that when she came to look after our children that evening she would bring some homework with her. Now this is not a teenager but a woman in her 50s so it wasn’t immediately obvious what she meant. It turns out that she’s learning to read the Quran.

Reading the Quran isn’t a surprise either, as she’s a Moroccan muslim, and she’s been able to speak and read Arabic for a while. But I didn’t realise that there was a special technique involved in reading the Quran. According to wikipedia:

“The proper recitation of the Quran is the subject of a separate discipline named Tajwid which determines in detail how the Quran should be recited, how each individual syllable is to be pronounced, the need to pay attention to the places where there should be a pause, to elisions, where the pronunciation should be long or short, where letters should be sounded together and where they should be kept separate, etc. There are two types of recitation: murattal is at a slower pace, used for study and practice. Mujawwad refers to a slow recitation that deploys heightened technical artistry and melodic modulation, as in public performances by trained experts.”

In order to help her with this she’s following a course, and in order to be able to study on her own at home she has a special pen and connected headphones to aid with pronunciation. The pages of the book contain some kind of special invisible code which is then “read” by the electronic pen as it passes over them, triggering a recorded voice reciting that verse.

This is quite clever and got me thinking about whether there were any other possible applications for such a technology. Combining “normal” books with audio books in one edition, so that blind people who don’t read braille can hear it instead? Or encoding music or sound effects which support the text for people who still want to read a paper version instead of listen to an audio book? But that would depend on the pace at which you read, I suppose. Personally I want silence when I read. I guess this is just a specific tool for a very specific purpose.