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Unusual Dialogue Patterns: yay or nay?

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Mon Nov 08, 2010 4:19 am
AuroraOrodel says...



I'm not talking about writing out dialogue in Cockney or changing the spelling of "no" to "nae" so it sounds like a thick Scottish brogue, but more about characters who speak with a speech pattern that sounds either subtly or very different from our own.

For example, the character Alberich in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books comes from a different country than where the story takes place, and naturally speaks a different language. It's part of his speech pattern to reverse the subjects and the verbs. Another example is the whole world of The Dark Tower by Stephen King. The characters use words and phrases that sound archaic to readers and structure their sentences in ways that sound incomplete. It creates the sense that these people have a regional dialect.

Do unusual speech patterns like these enhance the characters and the world, or do you find them confusing/hard to read?
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Mon Nov 08, 2010 4:28 am
Elinor Brynn says...



To a certain extent, I do like it, and I think it adds to the characters in ways. Like, for example, if you had a character who was from the deep south, "Do ye see that tree yonder?" seems more realistic as opposed to "Do you see that tree over there?" However, a lot of times when I have seen it it's been very overused that makes the sentences difficult to read. So, maybe, change a few words here and there but don't go overboard, as in, "De yerr see thet tree yonder?"

Also, instead of actually phonetically showing us how they talk through their dialogue, you can always tell us that they're speaking in a Scottish Accent, an Irish Accent or so on. I've done it several times in my stories.

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Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:41 am
JabberHut says...



I've run into this issue writing my NaNo. It takes place in Germany, and they... speak German. But I'm writing it the NaNo in English. xD So I had to think about how I wanted to write it. For German, word order doesn't really matter as long as the cases are right, so it was much easier for me to decide. However, overall, I think I would still just use proper English rather than following the foreign language's word order.

For example, in German (I took 4 years, so I trust my knowledge of German better than other languages XD), one would say "Which color is that?" while in English, we say, "What color is that?"

Or the words are my favorite. Like in German, "refrigerator" is really "coolbox" or "television" is "farwatch" 'cause you watch from afar. Anyway. XD There's going to be some editing from language to language, so I would just suggest going with proper English, avoiding the everyday slang we use. Then again, I haven't read up on it from experts. That's just what I go by.
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Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:17 am
MeanMrMustard says...



Most people are horrible when it comes to making this happen. Main problem is it's hard to distinguish in the minds of many people the difference between speech patterns and mannerisms, from dialect and accent. The next problem becomes properly defining this difference from "normal speech", since you've got to show the opposite of said character's difference and make a convincing leap. Next, you've got to pull off the ability to make this speech difference interesting and useful to the writing. It's a real gimmicky technique that normally flops.

So at your own risk. Not too popular now and days from what I know.




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Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:06 pm
AuroraOrodel says...



It's not so much a difference between the accent and "normal" speech as it is the difference between two regional dialects, kind of like the way I speak being from the Chicago area versus someone from the Indiana-Kentucky border. There are regional phrases and words.

What happened was I jumped into writing a massive overhaul of an old story, and when I started the dialogue, it was forming in a way that sounds different from the current spoken English that we use. For example, using "anyroad" instead of "anyway" and (for some reason) less use of "I". I have a feeling it might stick around, in which case it becomes an identifier from the characters within their world. I don't plan on it being a focus or having much mention by other characters beyond "Oh, I can tell you're from X by that word you just used". So I guess my question is more would you be able, as a reader, to fall into the speech patterns and not focus on them? (When I have more written, I'll have more examples)
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Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:23 pm
Kyllorac says...



So I guess my question is more would you be able, as a reader, to fall into the speech patterns and not focus on them?

I know I would. I live in Pennsylvania, and there's a fair number of dialects concentrated in the state with all the historical immigrants and people moving in in recent years from out-of-state, so having different speech patterns is taken for granted. It's pretty common to identify which area in the state/out-of a person is from by their dialect.

For instance, in the area I live, "yous" is the accepted plural form of "you", and "guys" is considered gender neutral when referring to a group, but only under certain circumstances. "Yous" is used when referring to a specific person within a group: "one a yous" ("of" is slurred since "of you(s)" is a bit difficult to say). When referring to the entire group, however, one uses "all a you guys" even if the group is all female. However, saying "the guys and I went out" refers to an all-male group, while an all-female group would be refered to as "the girls", and a mixed, "the gang".

But I say go for it. Dialect is rarely employed to its fullest in writing, and I think, if you just limited it to syntax rather than including (horrendous-looking) phonetics, it should turn out fine.
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Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:41 pm
Talulahbelle says...



I vote yes on accents and speech patterns. It can be hard to follow at first but I always fall into it when I read a story with them. As long as it's done the right way.

P.S. If you're writing about characters from the South (Shout Out Tennessee!), make sure you RESEARCH! Every single state has a different way of speaking down here and while they are similar in ways, they also have very distinct markers. And make sure you get our phrases right. Like if you're going to say "Do you see that tree over there?" it might be said "See that tree over yonder?" - In TN anyways.
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