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Thread: Dialect

  1. #1
    Reehana Taj


    Hi everyone

    I'm a little bit nervous about posting this message, as there have been some terrifying comments on other posts.

    However, I would honestly appreciate any comments regarding writing dialects.

    Writing dialects is my weakness, I seem to have a mental block about it. I really need to excel in this area, as its letting the rest of my manuscript down. My characters are well rounded, and I've edited it so that everything they say is relevant, but they need authenticity.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?


  2. #2
    Jeanne Gassman

    Re: Dialect

    What kind of dialect are you referring to? Most dialect is best written as inference, rather than spelled out phonetically. In other words, you infer the dialect by using different sentence constructions, patterns of speech, word choices, and common expressions.

    Here is a simple example of what I mean. Someone from the Western US would say:
    "Are you coming along?"

    Someone from Chicago would say:
    "You coming with?"

    Neither have phonetic spellings, but they do illustrate a regional difference.

    Hope that helps.


  3. #3

    Re: Dialect

    What Jeanne said.

    Use phonetic spellings sparingly if all.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Joe Zeff

    Re: Dialect

    I remember that in one of the Nero Wolfe stories, Archie Goodwin (the narrator) gives us one or two sentences of a woman talking with a strong Southern accent. Then, he makes a comment that writing this way is just too hard and that if you want, you can imagine her talking that way, but he's not going to write it out again. It worked fine, but of course, Rex Stout was a well established author by then.

    As others have suggested, you can let your readers know that a person's using a dialect by word choice, and word order. Yoda too, in a dialect spoke he did and every word, pronounced correctly it was. Clear to me, at least, his native language the word order of English did not use.

  5. #5
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: Dialect

    I tried a phonetic dialect once. It became really annoying to keep it consistent throughout the thing. Never again!

  6. #6
    Keith .

    Re: Dialect

    What terrifying comments on other posts?

  7. #7
    Reehana Taj

    Re: Dialect

    Thanks for your comments everyone. That's helps quite a bit.

  8. #8
    Gregory White

    Re: Dialect

    Jean, I don't think I would have picked up on the difference in Western US and Chicago dialect since they're both grammatically acceptable. I would have just assumed they were both Yankees.

    However, if you had said:

    "Ain't you comin' with us?" I would have known. LOL


  9. #9
    Patrick Edwards

    Re: Dialect

    I agree with Gregory. I mean, I realize one can go overboard with the broken English and whatnot ("Me and CeCe was finna go to the spot and see if the homies there was on something." By far, not correct grammar, nor clear to those not of the demo, but it's authentic, IMO, to that particular speaker, as well as to the audience who'd be willing to shell over some dollars--or merely read the story.), and while I agree with some stories being told with just the mannerisms, play on word order, etc., I think in some cases, it's okay to write dialect.

    But don't get me wrong, I've read (and written) some stuff that became annoying after a while, so that's not good. So I think the key is to pick and choose a few words that you feel are strong enough (and don't require a whole lot of support) to play with (e.g., isn't to ain't, something to somethin', fixing to to finna/finta) and roll with those chosen few. Allow the other words to be presented "normally."

    If that makes any sense.

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