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  #51  
Old 12-06-2012, 09:11 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, 09:27 PM
JohnGalt JohnGalt is online now
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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, 09:33 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, 09:43 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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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 09:43 PM..
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  #55  
Old 12-06-2012, 10:08 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, 02:17 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 02:18 AM..
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  #57  
Old 12-07-2012, 03:07 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, 03:11 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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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, 03:15 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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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, 07:06 AM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is offline
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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, 07:24 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 07:24 AM..
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  #62  
Old 12-07-2012, 07:37 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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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, 07:41 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.
Quote:
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, 07:49 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, 10:30 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, 10:37 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 10:37 AM..
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  #67  
Old 12-07-2012, 11:13 AM
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, 11:24 AM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
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, 11:53 AM
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, 12:14 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe 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.
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, 12:31 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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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, 12:39 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, 03:32 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, 09:22 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 12-08-2012, 11:13 PM
digs digs is offline
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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, 06:54 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, 07:23 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, 08:02 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, 09:15 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, 05:33 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, 05:42 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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