eavesdropper, listener or hearer

wolfbm1

Senior Member
Polish
Hello.

" I turned around again. “I can't hear a word” I said angrily. “It’s none of your business” the young man said rudely. “This is a private conversation”
Source: Practice and Progress by L. G. Alexander, Lesson 1, A Private Conversation. Longman 1984.

The narrator of the story was in a theatre. He was trying to enjoy a very interesting play. Unfortunately, two people sitting behind him were talking loudly. When he complained to them and said "I can't hear a word" he was misunderstood and received a rude reply "It's none of your business. This is a private conversation."
Actually, the reply should have been something like "The play is not interesting."

I don't think I can call the narrator an eavesdropper because he was not listening to the conversation secretly. Can I call him an involuntary listener then?
What about an involuntary hearer of a noisy private conversation.
 
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  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wouldn't call him either a hearer or a listener. The reply he received to his protest was petulant and rude. There was no question of his listening to their conversation, though he certainly heard the noise of their voices.

    The narrator was an aggrieved party; he had been disturbed by two rude and thoughtless people.

    He was certainly not listening or eavesdropping and we wouldn't describe hearing as an activity.

    The question would be easier to answer if we knew for what purpose you needed the description.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you, Thomas.
    There were two parties involved in the conversation. Both thought they were innocent. The narrator and the two seemingly ignorant theatre-goers. Maybe, they did not realise they were that noisy. Maybe, they just had a date. The woman did not really like the play, so the man tried to entertain her somehow and talked to her. He could have perceived the narrator, who was turning round from time to time, as an eavesdropper. The narrator himself was merely an involuntary listener, because they were talking louder than the actors. He considered the young man and the young woman a public nuisance or disturbers. I think I got it right. I just wanted to know who is who for each party.
     
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    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I've no idea if you still have a question, Wolfbm.
    Yes. I'm not sure about this sentence: He considered the young man and the young woman a public nuisance or disturbers.
    What about interrupters?
    Also, a person who is listening in on someone is called .... a listener?

     
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