Writing Dialect

1When I started this book, I questioned an author group about writing dialect for the local folks.  I’m not sure if you’ve ever read Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South, but she was one of the first authors who gave her characters what is termed a Mancunian vocabulary. Manchester has its way of pronouncing words, and if you read some of her dialects in the book, it can get pretty dicey attempting to figure out what they are saying.  Here is a portion from North & South as an example:

‘Hoo’s rather down i’ th’ mouth in regard to spirits, but hoo’s better
in health. Hoo doesn’t like this strike. Hoo’s a deal too much set on
peace and quietness at any price.’

‘This is th’ third strike I’ve seen,’ said she, sighing, as if that was
answer and explanation enough.

‘Well, third time pays for all. See if we don’t dang th’ masters this
time. See if they don’t come, and beg us to come back at our own price.
That’s all. We’ve missed it afore time, I grant yo’; but this time we’n
laid our plans desperate deep.’

Aye, lass, reading bits and pieces of dialogue as such can really be a challenge. Needless to say, I skirted it for the most part by leaving only a few characters who speak slightly less than correct and articulate proper English. Unfortunately, I don’t have the skill to make it more authentic, nor do I wish to burden readers. I will be the first to admit that reading how the Scottish dialect is written is a real challenge for me that takes away my interest in books.

I’ve saved you the pain for the most part and wanted to clarify why I didn’t go down that route to make it more Mancunian in style.

However, there are a few words you may wonder what the heck they mean.

Knobstick – Means someone who refuses to join a trade union.

Zounderkite – A Victorian word meaning idiot.

To add to the fun of British dialects, from Anglophenia, comes this great One Woman 17 British Accents. You might get a kick out of it.  Enjoy!

 

Vicki

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