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Thread: dialects

  1. #1
    Rich L.


    We, it seems pretty slow in the WN lately. Thought I'd take advantage of the slack to get some more feedback on accents, dialect, and idioms. This is some from my WIP. Sorry about the length, but I wanted to put it in as much context as possible. Comments?

    A large black woman sat with her back to us in an easy chair watching TV, her head resting on a white doily.

    "Mornin' Casual," Not-Jim said.

    The woman nodded slightly. "Mornin'", she answered, not turning around.

    "Got a man here needs a room for a few days."

    "No pets," she said, her attention still focused on the television.

    "I don't have any..." I began.

    "No pets!"

    "Right, no pets."

    The TV show segued into a commercial and the woman rose, turning her large frame toward us. "How long you be needin' the room for?"

    "Just a couple-a-three days Casual. Just till I can get his car fixed," Not-Jim answered.

    "What's wrong with your car?"

    "Apparently it needs a new fuel pump," I replied.

    She shook her head. "Ain't no auto parts store in this town. He'll have to order one. Take two, maybe three days."

    "Yes, we already..."

    "Where you from?"

    "New York."

    "He's a writer," Not-Jim added.

    "That right? What's your name?"

    "McDermitt. Sean McDermitt."

    "Never heard of you. I like Toni Morrison though. You know her?"

    "No, we've never..."

    "Too bad. Well we got a room available. Seventy dollars a day. There's coffee and muffins for breakfast and if you at the table by six you welcome to dinner. Nothin' fancy, but you won't starve."

    "Seventy dollars? A little steep isn't it?"

    She narrowed her eyes. "Sleeping outdoors is free."

    "I get your point. By the way, is there a phone in the room?"

    "'Course there's a phone. You think you in the boonies?"

    "Never crossed my mind, although there was some mention of an outhouse."

    Not-Jim smiled sheepishly. "Aw, I was just pulling your leg."

    "NORMA!" the woman shouted. A pretty hipanic girl in jeans and a pink halter top entered through the kitchen and leaned against the wall, loudly chewing her gum. "Norma, is room three ready?"

    "Cleaned this mornin'" she answered between gum clicks.

    The woman turned back to me. "We got four rooms. You in number three, that's down the hall, last room on the right. Only other guest right now is Mrs. Akhiro. She a china woman in room two."

    "Akhiro sounds Japanese."

    "Japanese, Chinese, all the same to me. She come here for a week every year to visit her husband."

    "Her husband lives here?"

    "No, her husband died here about four year ago. Used to haul chicken parts from somewheres east to Encino every week. Fell asleep at the wheel one night and rolled his truck over."

    She shook her head. "Terrible accident. Chicken parts was everywhere. Anyhow, now she come every year 'bout this time to pay her respects. We don't serve chicken while she's here. Hope you ain't got a taste for it."

    "Uh, no."

    "Norma will show you to your room."

    I picked up my bag. "Thank you Miss..."

    "Lay, but you can call me Casual."

    "Excuse me?"

    "My friends call me Casual; you might as well too since if you ain't a friend I don't want you in my place."

    "Casual Lay," I repeated.

    The big woman crossed her arms. "That's right."

    "Nice name."

    "If you a ho' yes, but that's the name my momma seen fit to gimme so I'm stuck with it. Norma will show you the room. Bathroom is across the hall; ain't no outhouse."

  2. #2

    Re: dialects

    I like it - Sounds perfectly normal to this southern belle.

    (And after the line "Japanese, Chinese, all the same to me" I couldn't stop from humming that stupid song from grade school - "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, lookit these!")


  3. #3

    Re: dialects

    Sounds good to me, Rich. I enjoyed reading it. I particularly liked the "gum clicks".

  4. #4
    Heather Brewer

    Re: dialects

    It sounds great, but there are an awful lot of "he said, she said"s. Might want to find a way to weed them out.

  5. #5
    Comma Boy

    Re: dialects

    "Said" only occurs twice in the whole piece - I disagree with Heather. I think the dialog attribution is nicely handled, as is the dialect. Good job!


  6. #6
    Rich L.

    Re: dialects

    I thought of that too when I wrote it. I don't use them much when there are only two people in the scene, but with a third it becomes important to make clear who is speaking. This is one of those sections I'm still tweaking though.

  7. #7
    Bob Kellogg

    Re: good job.

    I agree. I'm uncertain whether it's better to

    1. use "ing."
    2. use "in'"
    3. or leave off the apostrophe.

    Reflecting, I'd consider leaving off the apostrophe.

    "Cleaned this mornin," she said between gum clicks.

    I'd do the same with this:

    If you a ho, yes, but....

    I think the apostrophes are a bit distracting. And with "ho," if you're ging to replace actusaal letters, it woould need to be 'ho' --not a pretty sight.

    And check this: A pretty hipanic girl
    ...Needs an S.

    I enjoyed the dialogue and thought you did a very good job.

    Bob K.

  8. #8

    Re: good job.

    Though you didn't ask, just wanted to say the dialogue rang true--an enjoyable read.

    I think china should be capped:
    She a china woman in room two.

    Only thing that stuck out as far as the dialect was concerned was where you used 'you' instead of 'your'. Otherwise it was very good!

  9. #9
    Jenifer distracted

    Re: good job.

    My reader's voice went North Carolina as soon as I got two sentences in. I heard all the "you" 's as "ya" 's though it was much easier on the reading to have it spelled "you". My mental voice did all the changing anyway. Nicely done.

  10. #10

    Re: good job.

    Really good.

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