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  #51  
Old 12-06-2012, 10:11 PM
Shmendrik Shmendrik is offline
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
It's Stephen.

Anyway, I could not get through Delores Claiborne. Heavy backwoods Maine dialect made even worse because it was written first person as a monologue.
Ayuh.
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  #52  
Old 12-06-2012, 10:27 PM
JohnGalt JohnGalt is offline
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Have you tried listening to an audio version?
Great idea! I never considered that - I have some long commutes and I'll check out the library tomorrow to see what they have. Thanks!
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  #53  
Old 12-06-2012, 10:33 PM
Patch Patch is offline
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I like Girl Genius, but when the Jägers's speak, I just skip to the next speech bubble.

"Verra nize! Und vot hyu vants ve do next?"
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  #54  
Old 12-06-2012, 10:43 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is online now
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Originally Posted by Unauthorized Cinnamon View Post
And all those apostrophes just make me shudder. Would it not be sufficient to write "Old Georgie's path and mine crossed more times than I'm comfy remembering"?
Why keep the contraction "I'm"? Why keep the colloquial "comfy," instead of "comfortable"? Because those elements are in your dialect?

Last edited by Peremensoe; 12-06-2012 at 10:43 PM..
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  #55  
Old 12-06-2012, 11:08 PM
Invisible Chimp Invisible Chimp is offline
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It depends. I couldn't finish Huckleberry Finn when I tried it, but I don't even remember The Moon is a Harsh Mistress having lots of dialect, even though people are using it as an example.
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  #56  
Old 12-07-2012, 03:17 AM
Isamu Isamu is offline
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Originally Posted by Infovore View Post
That said, though, I did quite like Chuck Palahniuk's Pygmy, which was written entirely in very strange English. Not sure if you'd call it "dialect" per se, but it definitely took some getting used to.
It was the English of a young Asian exchange-student who doesn't speak much English in the first place.

Last edited by Isamu; 12-07-2012 at 03:18 AM..
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  #57  
Old 12-07-2012, 04:07 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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I don't like it (that is, I find it hard on the eyes), but in many cases, it's just unavoidable. Some dialects are sufficiently removed from standard English (whatever that is) that they would almost need translation to render them that way - I'm thinking of Yorkshire or Scottish Highlands - where not only is there an accent, there's also different grammar and vocab.
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  #58  
Old 12-07-2012, 04:11 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is online now
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Right. Author-invented phonetic renderings of accents are obnoxious, unnecessary, and hard to read. But transcriptions of the dialect, the actual words and structure of someone's speech--well, that's sometimes hard to read, too, but it's much more fundamental to the description of the character and scene.
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  #59  
Old 12-07-2012, 04:15 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is online now
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Qualification to the above: phonetic rendering of an accent may be necessary and effective in cases where characters are themselves having trouble understanding each other for that reason.
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  #60  
Old 12-07-2012, 08:06 AM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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I recall Asimov saying once that he had no ear for writing dialects, which is why all his characters may sound alike. He will say that a character "had a heavy Cormellian accent" but never tried to render it phonetically.
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  #61  
Old 12-07-2012, 08:24 AM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
I don't like it (that is, I find it hard on the eyes), but in many cases, it's just unavoidable. Some dialects are sufficiently removed from standard English (whatever that is) that they would almost need translation to render them that way - I'm thinking of Yorkshire or Scottish Highlands - where not only is there an accent, there's also different grammar and vocab.
The dialect of the Highlands isn't nearly as impenetrable to the unfamiliar ear as the urban dialects of Glasgow and other cities. There's some debate as to whether Scots can be classified as a language or is just a dialect of English but Glaswegian is as far removed from the English of Southeast England (and everywhere else) as I can imagine a dialect can get without just calling it another language.

Last edited by An Gadaí; 12-07-2012 at 08:24 AM..
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  #62  
Old 12-07-2012, 08:37 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Quoth LawMonkey:

On the other hand, the human farmer(s) who shoot Hazel? "'e old woild rabbit!" *shudder* I have to force myself through that section every time I read the book.
That, I think, was deliberate. The animals can understand each other, but to them, the sounds humans make are just so much babbling, and so that's the way it's presented to us.
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  #63  
Old 12-07-2012, 08:41 AM
MarcusF MarcusF is offline
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Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
I hate it so much and it makes me want to throw a book out the window. I feel actual rage at this. I stopped reading Tai-Pan because major plot sensitive page long conversations were in pigdin. It was awful and I was furious. They'd be talking about murders and horrid things all in the "You no likee" type of format.

I posted a paragraph here once, nearly incomprehensible. I will never try to read the book again.

Here I found one:

"Cow chillo out! Plenty quick-quick, savvy?" Struan said.
"You want cow chillo, heya? Cow chillo plenty good bed jig-jig. Two dollar never mind," the girl called out.

Cow chillo means young woman. Every major dialogue between Chinese and American characters was like that. It's pretentious and it's annoying.
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Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
Qualification to the above: phonetic rendering of an accent may be necessary and effective in cases where characters are themselves having trouble understanding each other for that reason.
Ignoring for the moment that Struan is not American, I think Peremensoe's point explains why Clavell's style in Tai Pan (and his other Asian books) not only works but is essential. The fact that the European and Chinese characters can only communicate through a stilted pidgen and have almost no understanding of each other's cultures and thoughts is a key theme and plot point.
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  #64  
Old 12-07-2012, 08:49 AM
Unauthorized Cinnamon Unauthorized Cinnamon is offline
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Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
Why keep the contraction "I'm"? Why keep the colloquial "comfy," instead of "comfortable"? Because those elements are in your dialect?
You seem to think I should be embarrassed to say yes, but YES! Why shouldn't an author writing in English write in English? or at least predominantly.

There's a scene in the play War Horse where an English soldier and a German soldier talk to each other on the battlefield. The actors both speak English, so the audience can understand them, though the dialog makes clear they are "speaking" English and German and can't understand each other. Would there have been some snooty artistic worth in using actual German and baffling most of the audience?
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  #65  
Old 12-07-2012, 11:30 AM
montag01 montag01 is offline
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^ You know, movie-wise, one film that handled a similar situation well was The Hunt for Red October. The initial exchange between the Russian characters is in Russian, just to establish the language they're speaking. Then the camera does this sort of close up and pull back, sort of letting you know a transition is happening within the scene. Then everyone is speaking in English.

In novels, dialects are more often a case where I prefer an author tells rather than shows if a great deal of vernacular is going to be employed. For example, render the character's dialogue is regular English, then explain what it sounded like to the other character in the scene, so we get an idea of the exchange. Then periodically remind the reader of the dialect in some way or another (perhaps showing the "listening" character having to re-think what is being said, even though it comes across as clear to the reader).

Otherwise, once a writer has committed to showing dialect on paper, there's no good way to do the type of transitioning that occurs in the movie version of The Hunt for Red October. The writer--and the reader--are stuck with it, and some readers just start skimming.
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  #66  
Old 12-07-2012, 11:37 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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Originally Posted by MarcusF View Post
Ignoring for the moment that Struan is not American, I think Peremensoe's point explains why Clavell's style in Tai Pan (and his other Asian books) not only works but is essential. The fact that the European and Chinese characters can only communicate through a stilted pidgen and have almost no understanding of each other's cultures and thoughts is a key theme and plot point.
I disagree highly, obviously. It makes the book completely unreadable and I despise it. And that's OK - I don't have to like it or even think the book is good, just because other people do.

On the other hand, someone mentioned Dolores Claiborne. That is one of my favorite books of all time and the dialect flows like a song. I always thought he did that particularly well, and I never have any problem reading it. So obviously it is in the eyes of the beholder.

ETA: I did love Shogun, and it is also one of my favorite books. It's not that he's not a good writer. I just can't read that godawful pigdin.

Last edited by Anaamika; 12-07-2012 at 11:37 AM..
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  #67  
Old 12-07-2012, 12:13 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Originally Posted by Unauthorized Cinnamon View Post
You seem to think I should be embarrassed to say yes, but YES! Why shouldn't an author writing in English write in English? or at least predominantly.

There's a scene in the play War Horse where an English soldier and a German soldier talk to each other on the battlefield. The actors both speak English, so the audience can understand them, though the dialog makes clear they are "speaking" English and German and can't understand each other. Would there have been some snooty artistic worth in using actual German and baffling most of the audience?
Obviously this is a matter of gradations. I would not bother learning Klingon in order to enjoy Star Trek "in the authentic language"; but OTOH I can read Huck Finn perfectly well, in spite of its use of the language - and in that case, I'd say far from being snooty, it adds authenticity and atmosphere which I'd be sorry to lose.
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  #68  
Old 12-07-2012, 12:24 PM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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Obviously this is a matter of gradations. I would not bother learning Klingon in order to enjoy Star Trek "in the authentic language"
Well, Shakespeare IS much better in the original Klingon.
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  #69  
Old 12-07-2012, 12:53 PM
Unauthorized Cinnamon Unauthorized Cinnamon is offline
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Yes, weirdly enough Huckleberry Finn, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Dolores Claiborne didn't bother me in the slightest. Skimming through Huck Finn, I see that Jim's dialog is just as annoying as the Cloud Atlas quote up there, but it's far more sparse in the text, so I figure I was able to wade through a sentence or two as long as I could go back to the narration shortly. I suppose it is a matter of gradations, and what's intolerable to one reader would still be OK to another. But all in all I think it's better for authors to avoid trying to phonetically depict accents. As noted above, a dialect can be fine - it's more about word choice, sentence structure, and rhythm. But accent is a bitch to read.

I also agree that if you're invested in a story but run up against this, get the audio book! I read Lovecraft's "The Picture in the House," and yes, the accent dialog is annoying. But then I listened to Andrew Lehman read it (link opens mp3) for HP Podcraft, he hit it out of the park.
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  #70  
Old 12-07-2012, 01:14 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is online now
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Originally Posted by Unauthorized Cinnamon View Post
You seem to think I should be embarrassed to say yes, but YES! Why shouldn't an author writing in English write in English? or at least predominantly.
They are. There are many dialects of English.


Quote:
There's a scene in the play War Horse where an English soldier and a German soldier talk to each other on the battlefield. The actors both speak English, so the audience can understand them, though the dialog makes clear they are "speaking" English and German and can't understand each other. Would there have been some snooty artistic worth in using actual German and baffling most of the audience?
I don't know the play, but I'd say such a choice depends on how the writer intends the audience to view the scene. Presumably there we are meant to see the two as equivalents.

I'm not saying that dialogue must always be rendered in a character's own language or dialect, simply that there are strong reasons to do so, and doing something else is a major artistic choice. The fact that some readers may have trouble with some dialects (not always the same readers or same dialects) is hardly compelling by itself.
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  #71  
Old 12-07-2012, 01:31 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is online now
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In your sample sentence in the OP, Cinnamon, I see only one word that is possibly a phonetic rendering ("died," which might be meant to represent a pronunciation of "dead"). The rest of it is just what he said, no phonetics involved.
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  #72  
Old 12-07-2012, 01:39 PM
Sigmagirl Sigmagirl is offline
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WRT Stephen King, I gave up on him after Rose Madder, in which Rose used the word "dassn't" so many times I was ready to kill her myself.
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  #73  
Old 12-07-2012, 04:32 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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On a similar note one author I'm slogging through is attempting to use the idioms of the day (well, maybe, I'm not familiar with the era) leading her characters to have the following idiotic conversations:
Friendski's?
Foreverski!

The "ski" thing is sprinkled heavily into the young women's conversations and for some reason it really grates(ki).
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  #74  
Old 12-08-2012, 10:22 PM
singular1 singular1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
It's Stephen.

Anyway, I could not get through Delores Claiborne. Heavy backwoods Maine dialect made even worse because it was written first person as a monologue.
Dammit, I had that originally and doubted myself. Shoulda gone with my gut.

The black maid's dialog in the Kennedy assassination book made my teeth hurt.
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  #75  
Old 12-09-2012, 12:13 AM
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So I guess a good side effect of being addicted to audiobooks is that I hear the dialects instead of reading them, and gettin' aw tripp'd up on all dem 'postrophes an' stuff.

I've listened to Huck Finn a couple of times, most recently by B. J. Harrison (was free on the "Classic Tales Podcast"), and the dialect not only didn't detract from the story, it helped. And King's 11/22/63 had a narrator that could do a very mild Maine accent that fit perfectly.
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  #76  
Old 12-09-2012, 07:54 AM
BigT BigT is online now
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Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
They are. There are many dialects of English.




I don't know the play, but I'd say such a choice depends on how the writer intends the audience to view the scene. Presumably there we are meant to see the two as equivalents.

I'm not saying that dialogue must always be rendered in a character's own language or dialect, simply that there are strong reasons to do so, and doing something else is a major artistic choice. The fact that some readers may have trouble with some dialects (not always the same readers or same dialects) is hardly compelling by itself.
It should be. Your primary goal as a writer is to understood by your audience. If you can't handle that basic task, then you have failed as a writer. Choosing to use dialect is a major, major artistic choice, and you'd better have a good reason and be sure that your story still makes sense if you can't quite read those portions. Most dialect is written in a dialect that is familiar to its intended audience.

It's the same reason I don't get why people freak out over translations from some stories into modern colloquial English. If that ruins the story, that means there wasn't any actual story there to begin with, just fancy words. If something is actually lost by making the dialect more readable, then you have failed as a writer.
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  #77  
Old 12-09-2012, 08:23 AM
BigT BigT is online now
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Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
In your sample sentence in the OP, Cinnamon, I see only one word that is possibly a phonetic rendering ("died," which might be meant to represent a pronunciation of "dead"). The rest of it is just what he said, no phonetics involved.
Bullshit. Here's a list of all of them:

an' is a phonetic version of "and," as the d is not pronounced
'n is a phonetic version of "than," as the th is not pronounced.
mem’ryin is a phonetic version of "remembering", where the r is elided, the b is not pronounced, the i is elongated, and the g is dropped.
an' is again a phonetic version of and, as the d is not pronounced
died is possibly a phonetic version of dead, with the vowel pronounced differently, but most likely is just a dialectical variation
sayin' is a phonetic version of saying, as the g is not pronounced
an' is once again a phonetic version of and, as the d is not pronounced

It's also possible that mem'ryin got a little help from the word memory, as the person probably thinks the word remembering contains the word memory. So it's both dialect and accent.

That was relatively easy for me to read because I know the accent, and the only really obscured word is "than." But I've read dialect from British accents, and is is usually impenetrable. Only having it written by an American helps. Without that, I'd need IPA to even have any hope of reading the accent out loud. With obscured words, that probably wouldn't even help.

As I said above, any writer's basic job is communicate. If someone can't read what someone has written, then you have failed, because your intended meaning is not conveyed. Writers like to be artists, not dealing with this. But they must adhere to the basics of written communication.

Otherwise they aren't writing books. They are making a writing journal.
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  #78  
Old 12-09-2012, 09:02 AM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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I like dialect. I read Thrawn Jane and had very little trouble with it -- nice little horror story. I have my limits: I read Fearsum Endjinn but it was just a little ways past my ability to interpret dialog on the fly, so I bogged down in it a lot, which made it more of a chore than the unalloyed pleasure that reading most of Banks' fiction is. But Huck Finn? Nothing but fun.

What gives me trouble is when C.J. Cherryh creates those names that are half apostrophes by weight. Never can figure them out.
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  #79  
Old 12-09-2012, 10:15 AM
Unauthorized Cinnamon Unauthorized Cinnamon is offline
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
Bullshit. Here's a list of all of them:

an' is a phonetic version of "and," as the d is not pronounced
'n is a phonetic version of "than," as the th is not pronounced.
mem’ryin is a phonetic version of "remembering", where the r is elided, the b is not pronounced, the i is elongated, and the g is dropped.
an' is again a phonetic version of and, as the d is not pronounced
died is possibly a phonetic version of dead, with the vowel pronounced differently, but most likely is just a dialectical variation
sayin' is a phonetic version of saying, as the g is not pronounced
an' is once again a phonetic version of and, as the d is not pronounced

It's also possible that mem'ryin got a little help from the word memory, as the person probably thinks the word remembering contains the word memory. So it's both dialect and accent.

That was relatively easy for me to read because I know the accent, and the only really obscured word is "than." But I've read dialect from British accents, and is is usually impenetrable. Only having it written by an American helps. Without that, I'd need IPA to even have any hope of reading the accent out loud. With obscured words, that probably wouldn't even help.

As I said above, any writer's basic job is communicate. If someone can't read what someone has written, then you have failed, because your intended meaning is not conveyed. Writers like to be artists, not dealing with this. But they must adhere to the basics of written communication.

Otherwise they aren't writing books. They are making a writing journal.
Good analysis. The irony is that I think it would be more readable without all the apostrophes indicating dropped letters. Excess apostrophes kind of snag my brain and slow down the reading, even more than the phonetic spelling alone.
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  #80  
Old 12-09-2012, 06:33 PM
Lucky 13 Lucky 13 is offline
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Something I've always wondered. I remember reading a novel once where a character used the word "bain't" a lot. Does anyone even say this, and if so, where?
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  #81  
Old 12-09-2012, 06:42 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Something I've always wondered. I remember reading a novel once where a character used the word "bain't" a lot. Does anyone even say this, and if so, where?
According to the The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form, which I only just now learned existed, it's "a dialect word used extensively in the Midlands and West Country of the UK."
Quote:
It bain't a right cleverish notion
When thinking of crossing the ocean
To have bathtubs in mind
Of the cast-iron kind—
'Cause they sail with a downwardish motion.
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  #82  
Old 11-15-2014, 11:49 AM
vontsira vontsira is offline
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I am unfortunately a computer-moron, though a keen computer-user in the most simple reaches of that scene. Although I have been instructed in how to call up / link to in a post, a bygone SDMB thread: trying to do so, following instructions, didn't work -- I'm sure, as a result of my idiocy, not from any inadequacy in the instructions. This being so: I am doing something not well-regarded by the mods, and reviving this "zombie thread" from 2012 -- hoping for forgiveness, with my action being caused by incompetence, not laziness / not giving a damn.

A problem for many of the posters on this thread, and certainly for me, is fiction authors' writing and publishing copious transcribed "dialect / mangled English", put into the mouths of non-standard speakers. I usually find it -- if at any length -- a maddening distraction, and just more work for the reader, than it's worth.

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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
It depends. It can be an effective way of getting into the feel of a place if done properly. I liked Heinlein's "lunar" dialect in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and fell into it pretty easily. I didn't have an issue with it in Huckleberry Finn.

But I absolutely hate it when I can't make sense of a character unless I sound out every single word. The worst offender I've come across is the original printing of Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus. Reading it was torture.
(Another poster makes an almost simultaneous and much-alike comment, about Uncle Remus). I heartily agree about this one. I have a lovely, passed-down-in-the-family, 1920s-vintage illustrated edition of the work -- but Remus's speech therein, lovingly transcribed by the author, in impenetrable and incomprehensible to me: I'm just not prepared to undertake that amount of labour.

Similarly -- on the whole, I have a strong liking for Kipling's works. However, I find a good deal of annoyance in his "Soldiers Three" tales. Out of the "three", Mulvaney particularly gives me problems. Kipling seems to find no need to "mangle" very greatly, the speech of Ortheris the Cockney -- and Learoyd, from the north of England, is a laconic type who parts with words as though they were hundred-rupee notes, so that the reader isn't bothered with much from him. Mulvaney, though, is a gabby character, and the author's rendering on the page of his cod-Irish speech, drives me mad. I recently discovered a likely promising Kipling short story, My Lord The Elephant; but ended up abandoning it, because of its being narrated "by" Mulvaney, verbatim via the author.

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Originally Posted by RikWriter View Post
I don't like it at all. I prefer when the author makes a brief mention (preferably from the POV of a character who doesn't share the accent) noting that the person has a strong accent and then just leaves it to your imagination.

As an instance that comes to mind, in the book Island in the Sea of Time, one of the 1200 BC locals named Isketerol has just learned to speak English and has a strong accent. Rather than write out everything he says with this accent, Stirling briefly mentions that when he says "That would take years," it comes out sounding like "Dat wud tikka yee-ars," but writes the rest of his dialogue conventionally.
I couldn't agree more -- it would be so nice if authors would use this manoeuvre, rather than inflict on the reader pages upon pages of gobbledegook.

I have the impression that to a fair extent, lengthy dialect-transcribed passages were a vice more, of authors of earlier times: it's a thing which mercifully, the less-cheesy of modern writers tend not to do. Is the dislike, one that others coming to this thread, share -- or is people's opinion that I, and other posters hitherto on this thread, are too fussy and hard-to-please?
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  #83  
Old 11-15-2014, 12:14 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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I think a lot of dialog transcription is subtly classist, in that writers tend to only spell out accents when spoken by foreigners and poor people, but never the well-educated. The'll drop H's at the beginning of words, but they'll never drop R's at their endings. In other words, they'll only spell out dialect when people are speaking "wrong".
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  #84  
Old 11-15-2014, 02:05 PM
Slow Moving Vehicle Slow Moving Vehicle is online now
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
You want Scottish dialect? Robert Louis Stevenson wrote stories in it, and I've read works by more recent authors copying him. Utterly unitelligible (if you're not Scottish) without a glossary.


Don't believe me? Try reading Thrawn Janet:

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Thrawn_Janet
Ah dinnae ken why yer fashin' yerself. I kent it fine.

"Eye dialect" is like any other literary device - in the hands of a master, like Twain, it works; in the hands of a less-competent writer, it's clunky. It took me a page or two to get into the flow of Trainspotting, but after that I just accepted it as the voices of the characters.

But "Thrawn Janet" might not be a great example, because it's not written in English - that's Scots.
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  #85  
Old 11-15-2014, 03:08 PM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is online now
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I agree with the OP completely, even though the quote is pretty much how I sound IRL. But I don't write that way for expression, anymore than my singing voice sounds like my speaking voice. And I agree that word choice and sentence structure can convey what's needed. "Breast of chicken" says something different than "chicken breast" I think, and sounds different, too...almost a melodious drawl.

Anything that stops the flow for the reader is "chancey" and not always worth the risk. Like nudity in a well-made film you have to wonder, "Is it integral to the story?" and even then, use it sparingly for maximum effect.
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  #86  
Old 11-15-2014, 03:17 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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Strongly written dialects do take me out of the story, while lightly written ones I find fun. I guess my wish is that the strength of written dialect be positively correlated to the importance of emphasizing that character's background. Twain write Roxanna with pretty thick dialect, okay that's fine. Gabaldon writes Jamie Fraser with a light Scottish dialect, that's great. Sir Walter Scott writes Iain Bean Lean in middling-dense Scots, okay (actually, I think he didn't write that character that way, it's been a long time... but if he did, it would be okay with me).

But when Scott starts to write all of Ivanhoe's dialogue in a dialect he never heard and can't possibly imagine? Screw that. I'm done with the book.
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  #87  
Old 11-15-2014, 03:46 PM
Oswald Bastable Oswald Bastable is offline
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I'm not the biggest fan, although I've used it myself in a deliberately obtuse way when writing Edwardian speculative fiction pastiche. My readers didn't like it either...

OB
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  #88  
Old 11-15-2014, 03:59 PM
jtur88 jtur88 is offline
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Just found this thread. Yes, I skipped those chapers in Cloud Atlas. I've never read Huckeberry Finn,either.

I hate it even worse when an author puts whole chapters in italics. Bastards.

All the Pretty Horses is the only book by Cormac McCarthy I never read.

Last edited by jtur88; 11-15-2014 at 04:00 PM..
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  #89  
Old 11-15-2014, 04:51 PM
No umlaut for U No umlaut for U is offline
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Hate dialects, too. I agree with RikWriter that S.M. Stirling handles them masterfully, with a very light touch. There's a point at which I will not read a book for pleasure if there's too much non-Standard English in it.

That said, the type of usage where using AAVE or other forms of English as shorthand to make a character sound uneducated or stupid seems to be disappearing. About time.
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  #90  
Old 11-15-2014, 07:12 PM
monstro monstro is offline
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One of the most challenging books to read is Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. But it's also one of the best. So no, I don't always hate when authors write out dialects.

I only hate when they see fit to only do it with certain voices. If slaves have to have their voices represented in dialect, so should Missy and Massa. Cuz all God's chilluns talk funny.
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  #91  
Old 11-15-2014, 07:58 PM
seal_cleaner seal_cleaner is offline
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Originally Posted by singular1 View Post
The first thing that sprung to mind for me is Steven King's cringe-inducing dialects, especially black dialects. They physically hurt me to read them.
King's dialogue is every bit as weak as his characters. He's great at plotline and scene setting, but as soon as a person pops up and starts talking, I toss the book in frustration.
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  #92  
Old 11-15-2014, 08:21 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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I thought of another point: spelled-out dialect bothers me less in stories with first person narration. That first person narrator inevitably has a dialect of his or her own. It's acceptable for that narrator to relate Otherness in dialogue.

I have less patience in third person narration. In that case there had better be a good excuse, like a strong POV tie or a need to establish Otherness for plot reasons.
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  #93  
Old 11-16-2014, 09:41 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Originally Posted by Rollo Tomasi View Post
One thing that really bugs me about spelling out dialects is when it's used inconsistently among characters. For example, if you read a book with a character from Mississippi, one from Pennsylvania, and one from California, but only the character from Mississippi is having their dialogue spelled out phoenetically. Not only does it come off as condescending, but it inadvertently holds up the other characters' way of speaking as the "normal" way. After all, people from those two states have their own quirky way of pronouncing certain things Why aren't those words being spelled out phonetically? But because people more strongly associate the South with a particular accent (and probably because the author is not from the South), they feel the need to practically hold up a sign and say, "Hey, this person is from the South! See, that's why he's talking funny!"
That's what I really dislike - that it's only the "others," usually common folk, who need stuff spelling out in dialect. As if the rest of the characters are saying stuff exactly as it's spelt; this is English, so they're not.

JK Rowling did this in Harry Potter, even. Hagrid is perfecty comprehensible, but why the need to write ' instead of h every time his dialect misses an h? It's not exactly uncommon to drop the h in Harry, so why point it out? Oh, because he's a country bumpkin, I see. We definitely needed to know that.

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Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
Why keep the contraction "I'm"? Why keep the colloquial "comfy," instead of "comfortable"? Because those elements are in your dialect?
Because, if the person were writing in a casual style rather than speaking, they'd probably retain those ("I'm" is hardly a dialect form, anyway. Ony robots use "I am" all the time). If every other character is written as if they were writing, in the sense that you write "certain" rather than "sertin" or whatever for your main characters, then the same should apply to the common folk, the country bumpkins and foreigners.

There are exceptions, if you have a really good reason for it, like the POV character not understanding what was being said due to an accent or dialect and it being transcribed to show the reason for the lack of comprehension.

O if you're intentionally writing the whole thing in dialect, like in Trainspotting.
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  #94  
Old 11-18-2014, 03:11 PM
BurnMeUp BurnMeUp is offline
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Originally Posted by Infovore View Post

That said, though, I did quite like Chuck Palahniuk's Pygmy, which was written entirely in very strange English. Not sure if you'd call it "dialect" per se, but it definitely took some getting used to.
I HATED that book, partially because it was just a terrible book and the dialect part delivered the killing blow. I like some of Palahniuk's work but pygmy was the beginning of the end of the love affair for me.
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  #95  
Old 11-18-2014, 03:25 PM
Infovore Infovore is online now
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Originally Posted by BurnMeUp View Post
I HATED that book, partially because it was just a terrible book and the dialect part delivered the killing blow. I like some of Palahniuk's work but pygmy was the beginning of the end of the love affair for me.
It was more an up-and-down thing for me. I liked Pygmy, hated Snuff and Rant, liked Damned, and couldn't finish Doomed. We'll see how Beautiful You goes--I have it but haven't started it yet.
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  #96  
Old 11-18-2014, 03:34 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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I REALLY hate made up dialects. I also hate those that make my reading come to a screeching halt.

I have no issues with Huck, as that use of dialect is important for several reasons, and I can read thru it fine.
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  #97  
Old 11-18-2014, 03:43 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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I only really get annoyed if it's eye-dialect, that is, words written phonetically to imply a rustic or simpleminded character but not actually being a different pronunciation. Things like wuz, sed, or wimmin.
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  #98  
Old 11-18-2014, 03:55 PM
EmilyG EmilyG is offline
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Does any book write out zombie speech in dialect?
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  #99  
Old 11-18-2014, 04:12 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo Tomasi View Post
...if you read a book with a character from Mississippi, one from Pennsylvania, and one from California, but only the character from Mississippi is having their dialogue spelled out phoenetically....it inadvertently holds up the other characters' way of speaking as the "normal" way. After all, people from those two states have their own quirky way of pronouncing certain things Why aren't those words being spelled out phonetically?...
Yeah, Californians sound funny. They think that "Hairy Harry rode the fairy ferry to marry merry Mary and tarry with Terry" has homophones in it. It doesn't. Also, Don and Dawn are two different names! Stop saying them the same.
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  #100  
Old 11-18-2014, 05:08 PM
vontsira vontsira is offline
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Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
Yeah, Californians sound funny. They think that "Hairy Harry rode the fairy ferry to marry merry Mary and tarry with Terry" has homophones in it. It doesn't.
Not-very-relevant aside from this, but hard to resist: one of the oddities of the Liverpool dialect, is it's reversing of the "air / er" sounds -- e.g., the local river which meets the sea there, the Mersey: is locally pronounced, "Mairsey".

A bit of Liverpool conversation, told to me long ago:

" 'ere, wack ! D'you believe in furries?"

"I do; but norrin fairy furries." (= furry fairies. Probably fortunately, this exchange long pre-dated the "furries" sex thing.)
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