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Accents!

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Mon Dec 26, 2011 4:30 am
Cspr says...



So, I'm working on finishing my NaNo novel's first draft and, admittedly, this is more so for the second draft, but I figure it can't hurt to start ahead on what I need to make note of.

One of those things is accent. I'm working with rather specific accent, two in particular:

One has more possibility to be varied, but admittedly any input would be helpful. I'm looking for some examples of standard American Midwestern accent in today's world. If you can think of any videos to point out, slang you could think of, or dialectal tics I would be much obliged. Most of my book is based in a smaller Midwestern town and I want most of the people to speak as such. Any misconceptions about Midwestern people could also be noted. I live far, far away from the Midwestern US. (I like challenges, I guess?)

Secondly, if anyone has any idea what an American Irish Traveller sounds like that would be brilliant. I know Irish accents and English accents and been around enough Northern-born and Southern-born Americans to get a basic idea of what one might sound like. I've known people from Texas and Alabama and, supposedly, most American Irish Travellers live in the Southern area of the United States. However, I don't know what sort of accent you'd get from combination Texan (of the Whitehall region) and Irish, etc.?

One of the Travellers', Peter's, grandmother is even from Louisiana. I've also known Cajuns so, no big stretch there and she's not that important--rarely brought up. On the other hand, I don't exactly know how to write dialects differently and in this challenge of a book--trying to have cultural variation--I'm a bit out of depth. I don't want to add in extra apostrophes and useless, perhaps rude little phrases, but I'd love to know the way they talk. Because people from different regions put their thoughts differently. Some people say "You know?" a lot, others have a slower way of speaking so less dialogue would be best, others use certain words normal for their area, and some, like my Danish friend, say "Okay" instead of "Yeah" when they speak English. For example, my neighbors know my accent is wrong and constantly ask where I'm from--same as people in most places I've been. Same as I was able to tell my friend was from Central Florida. Having lived there for six months, I can tell. It's obvious. I assume it can also be obvious in a book without making one ignorant, so I figured the more information the better.

So, thoughts?
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Mon Dec 26, 2011 11:41 am
RachaelElg says...



First, a linguistics nerd correction. What you're looking for here is "dialect" and not "accent." That'll probably help in your research. An "accent" is only pronunciation--and everyone, for the benefit of anyone who's reading this, has one. A dialect--everyone also speaks one of these, by the way--is the whole kitten caboodle. Not just the way words are said, but also the word choice and the sentence structure and the culture.

As for the dialects you've mentioned, I don't know much about them. Your best bet is youtube and finding native speakers of the dialects to interview. Also, movies set in the area. Also, though, there are plenty of linguistic nerd things out there. Like this one:

Image

I also found these sites here:
http://www.evolpub.com/Americandialects/AmDialhome.html
http://robertspage.com/dialects.html

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Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:22 am
Cspr says...



Thank you for your lovely response and thanks for the correction. I'll have to look at those links . . . sounds interesting. :)
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Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:30 pm
SunshineandCarnage says...



When you "write in an accent" but want to call it something else, if your story takes place in an imaginary land, how do you let people be able to fugure out what kind of accent the character has? (My character has a very specific accent- Scouse, which is the accent of Liverpool, England. But as I mentioned, my character is from an imaginary land)
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Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:39 pm
Rosey Unicorn says...



Sunshine- Let them think it's a random accent! If it's an imaginary land, then there's no true need to let them know what accent it is. Unless it becomes a plot point later, then you can work it into dialogue by having somebody ask what the accent is.
You know you're a writer when you're not alarmed at hearing voices in your head, you can't read a book without analyzing it for plot & characters and you consider something you nearly killed yourself to write the most rewarding.

Guilty as charged.