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How people speak

Ernest Bywater

In another thread we had a loooong talk about the appropriate verbs to describe a conversation. Well, today I received a phone call from a tech supply store where my son ordered some RAM chips (DDR4 in 16GB sticks, if you must know). I told the caller my son was asleep before I knew what it was about. I offered to pass on a message and when he said it was about an order I asked if it was about the computer parts and he agreed it was. He explained the order will be delayed as their bulk supplier is out of stock and the new shipment won't be in until the end of the month. He went on to explain the RAM was in very high demand. I then told him about them being new 16 GB stick and given the option of only 4 sticks of 8 GB or 4 sticks of 16 GB, which would you buy? Well, I could hear the laughter in his voice when he replied with "Sixteen gig, of course." I then asked since they were out of the black case chips did they have them in the red case (the chips come in two colours to co-ordinate with the motherboards), again I could hear the laughter in his voice when he replied, "Naturally both colours are out of stock."

Well, considering the discussion in another thread about words used to describe talking, when this happened this afternoon the thread and the talk about people laughing while talking went through my mind, so I had to mention it does happen in real life.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

it does happen in real life

Indeed it does, and all sorts of other actions as well. But the question remains: Is it ", he laughed" or ", he said as he laughed".

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

But the question remains: Is it ", he laughed" or ", he said as he laughed".


In this case I'd have to go with the first because he wasn't trying to force words out through his laughter, but you could hear the laughter in his voice - yes, I know it's hard to describe, but that's the way it was.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sejintenej

@Zom

Indeed it does, and all sorts of other actions as well. But the question remains: Is it ", he laughed" or ", he said as he laughed".

but you missed out the alternative which EB supplied "I could hear the laughter in his voice when he replied ..." and which I found a refreshing change.

Replies:   Zom
Chris Podhola

This is kind of off from what the original post talked about, but it is something I have been trying to improve on in my stories, but am having some difficulty with.

Dialect.

In an attempt to add variety to some characters I often try to include a character here and there who speaks with some kind of dialect. Perhaps the character is German, or Russian, or has a southern accent. The problem is that I don't often hear these dialects, so how can I write them effectively and believably without making them come off in some corny way?

Are there resources out there that can help with this? How do you guys handle dialects?

Zom

@sejintenej

but you missed out the alternative which EB supplied

No, I just stepped around it :-) mainly because he nailed it. I was just alluding to the action/tag argument EB was trying to leave behind, but I didn't get a rise, thankfully.

Zom
Updated:

@Chris Podhola

how can I write them effectively

I would say by not trying too hard. Describe the dialect/accent, and make as few word changes as you can to allow the reader to hear the accent. If you go overboard by trying to make the word structures and spellings reflect the dialect or accent, then it just gets hard to read.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Zom

then it just gets hard to read.


But that can in fact be the point. You might have one character with a heavy accent or odd dialect that makes it difficult for the other characters to understand.

Replies:   tppm
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

In this case I'd have to go with the first because he wasn't trying to force words out through his laughter, but you could hear the laughter in his voice - yes, I know it's hard to describe, but that's the way it was.

That's why I keep emphasizing that using verbs as dialogue attributions is fine, but that it's one of those things which will stop certain readers (those who question what it sounds like). I prefer "chuckled" instead of laughter because it's easier to picture someone chuckling. Laughter usually involves more out of control behavior.

If talking and laughing makes you shake your head, then don't use it. If it's not a problem, then just ignore it. Any readers it bothers will find stories which don't bother them.

P.S. the best response to this dilemma is to phrase it like you did: "I could hear the laughter in his voice when he replied". It's both more descriptive and paints a more complete picture than "he laughed", which seems ... incomplete.

Crumbly Writer

@Chris Podhola

In an attempt to add variety to some characters I often try to include a character here and there who speaks with some kind of dialect. Perhaps the character is German, or Russian, or has a southern accent. The problem is that I don't often hear these dialects, so how can I write them effectively and believably without making them come off in some corny way?

Are there resources out there that can help with this? How do you guys handle dialects?

I'm glad you asked this, Chris. Recently, you've been sounding a little harsh about anyone who doesn't write in dialect, so it's nice to see that you're still struggling with it.

I've mentioned before, that instead of using a specific dialect throughout the story, I'll lay it on thick for the first paragraph or two, so readers get a feel for it, then I'll dial it down to only a couple pet phrases. Those phrases will remind readers that the reader has an accent, without constantly beating them over the head with it.

What that means, is that you don't need to master a dialect, just figure out enough to fit into the above guidelines. I'll occasionally use specific ethnic dialogues (Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian, Egyptian, etc.), and generally I'll base it on people I've met or hear speaking in news reports. I'm not sure of any online references. The other option is to search various print books (old style) to see how they handled it.

To sum up, I prefer minimizing dialects when I use them (so they don't become overpowering), but I don't have any specific language resources.

@Dominions Son

But that can in fact be the point. You might have one character with a heavy accent or odd dialect that makes it difficult for the other characters to understand.

You don't need to make the readers uncomfortable to reflect the character's discomfort. Once you establish that a specific character speaks with an accent (and remind readers, periodically, of this fact), then you can just have the other characters complain about it. Readers will fill in the rest.

Example:

"I'm sorry, Billy Bob, but I can't figure out what the hell you're saying half the time!"

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

You don't need to make the readers uncomfortable to reflect the character's discomfort. Once you establish that a specific character speaks with an accent (and remind readers, periodically, of this fact), then you can just have the other characters complain about it. Readers will fill in the rest.


Ah, but if you're not writing in 3rd omnipotent, the narrator might not have any more idea what was said than anyone else.

The point isn't to make the readers uncomfortable. However, I think it will put reader off even more if you have one character whose dialog is perfectly clear to the reader but all the other characters react as if that character is speaking gibberish.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Chris Podhola
Updated:

CW,

I don't know that I've been harsh about dialect, because I know that dialects are a weak point for me. I may have been harsh with you in regard to personality traits, but that's only because you kept bouncing back and forth between saying you had methods to use them, but later said they weren't important. I was simply trying to stress that personality traits are important and by ignoring them, you weaken your potential for character development.

Dialects, for me, are a struggle. Sometimes when I write them during a rough draft, they sound good to me in my head, but when I edit and try reading them aloud, they don't sound as good to my ear. Any specific suggestions from other authors in this regard would be welcomed by me. It is a weak point that I struggle to solve.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

The point isn't to make the readers uncomfortable. However, I think it will put reader off even more if you have one character whose dialog is perfectly clear to the reader but all the other characters react as if that character is speaking gibberish.

Again, I find a more useful approach is to show just how difficult their speech is to understand when they're first introduced, and then remind them of their accent with the use of a few key phrases. After all, often the difficulty isn't with the pronunciation, but with it's being unclear (i.e. not properly enunciated).

You can speak the Queen's English and still be hard to understand. However, there are many famous books which are based upon actual dialogue which are incredibly hard to read because it's so hard parsing the mutilated English.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

gain, I find a more useful approach is to show just how difficult their speech is to understand when they're first introduced, and then remind them of their accent with the use of a few key phrases. After all, often the difficulty isn't with the pronunciation, but with it's being unclear (i.e. not properly enunciated).


For me personally, as a reader, if there was one character whose speech was incomprehensible to the rest of the character I would find your approach far more off-putting than dialog that was simply random gibberish.

Crumbly Writer

@Chris Podhola

Dialects, for me, are a struggle. Sometimes when I write them during a rough draft, they sound good to me in my head, but when I edit and try reading them aloud, they don't sound as good to my ear. Any specific suggestions from other authors in this regard would be welcomed by me. It is a weak point that I struggle to solve.

I'm not sure it'll help much, but I went way back, to my very first story/book, to look at one example, for some sample passages. In that first introduction (of the character), I had someone else speaking for her. Since the translator was cute (a young girl) it worked as she struggled with the language, but I never used it in that initial passage. Instead, I described the difficulty and mentioned how long the translations took:

Anh began speaking, so we all waited patiently for her to finish before Vicky attempted to translate for her.

In a later book ("Seeding Hope Among the Ashes"), I went with an inexact dialect that reflected the character's personality more than he actual language skills:

"Me name be Antario Fontini. I tain't interested in no talking. I want to know 'bout tis cure."

"There's a lot to explain. It's not a simple process. We'll do the first treatments, but you need to learn the process so you can handle the rest on your own."

"Eh," Antario grunted, telling her to continue, though not actively encouraging it.

Alice had the others tell their own stories to build their trust in each other. Thomas went first, and then Sandra. Antario, though, wasn't nearly as forthcoming, at least not initially.

"Me immigrate from Greece. Never welcome here, never treated well. But people 'spect me work. I work hard and people no choice but 'cept me."

Without getting heavily into the specific accent, this establishing that the character is a 'common man', and paints an effective picture of his personality, as well as illustrating that language is an issue, despite them all speaking English.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Crumbly Writer

"Me name be Antario Fontini. I tain't interested in no talking. I want to know 'bout tis cure."


Well, to be quite honest with you, this, to me, is an example of what not to do. This is the type of thing that I'm trying to grow out of. What I'm looking for is a way to use dialect in my writing that doesn't come off as pigeon speak, but is an accurate reflection in realistic terms.

I did find one good example from a novel titled: Accounts of the Cursed Shopping Center by Ivan Borodin. Here is an excerpt and I think a decent example of how a southerner would speak:

The last time I saw Alma McDowell? Her father checked in at four, and at eight there come a knock on the office door. It was locked because I was taking my break.

Thing is, I was across the parking lot at that malt shop. Seeing how it was springtime, the night was perfect for sitting out, so I could hear her knock.

Well, by the time I got up, went through the shop, and came to the office door, that girl done started knocking on motel room doors. At the time, I thought she was the man's girlfriend or something, so I kept out of it.

'Sides the office phone was ringing, and Betty Lou-that's my boss-does spot checks from time-to-time, to make sure I answer the phone.

Personally, I don't much care for the phone. I answer it, but I don't like it, you know. You never know who's on the other end of the line.

Prior to this, the author simply announced that the speaker was southern and my mind did the rest as I read it. It happened naturally, but the phrasing of this piece contributed. The way it was worded was believable to me as if it was genuinely spoken by a southerner. I can see how I could use this little excerpt the next time I go to write someone with a similar personality and origin to this speaker, but it wasn't easy for me to find this piece. I guess my question is does anyone have a resource maybe? Are there places to go to find examples like this in one spot, that cover multiple different cultures and dialects?

I appreciate your attempt at helping, CW, but I don't feel like your examples would lead me in the right direction.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Chris Podhola


The problem is that I don't often hear these dialects, so how can I write them effectively and believably without making them come off in some corny way?


Find some YouTube video of people speaking that dialect.

However, I don't use dialectic pronunciation in my stories much at all because I found many readers don't like too much of it. To do it right you have to write the words the way they sound in the dialect and you can't always get that right, but it can be useful to show something about a character at times. The hard part is constructing the words in the odd dialect phonetics to come up with things like: "Mad fooker, git ootta ma way." or "Da ho den rund auf." The problem is the readers often have trouble understanding it until they say it out loud, and then they need to be familiar with the dialect to get it. That's why I sometimes mention a person has a dialect or accent and leave it at that, a comment like When Jock spoke it took me a moment to work out what he was saying because his accent was so thick. gets the idea across without making the reader have to work for it.

I think of dialectic speech as like a strong spice, it can really add some flavour, but you have to be damn careful about using it, and then do so sparingly.

typo edit

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


The problem is the readers often have trouble understanding


But then the point could be for the reader to not understand what that particular character is saying, because the other characters don't understand it either.

Personally as a reader, I would be much more put off and confused by clear dialog to which the other characters react as if it was incomprehensible gibberish then I would be if that character's dialog was just random strings of letters.

Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

Well, to be quite honest with you, this, to me, is an example of what not to do. This is the type of thing that I'm trying to grow out of. What I'm looking for is a way to use dialect in my writing that doesn't come off as pigeon speak, but is an accurate reflection in realistic terms.


OK, Chris, in CW's example and your comment above we now cross over into syntax as well.

Dialectic speech is about how the words sound and writing them in a way to get the different sound across in letters. For example, I know a French lady who speaks with a soft accent, it's such that when she says the phrase fork and knife in English it comes out sounding as fookin knife because of the way she's used to speaking in French.

In the example CW used in his post he also used the syntax of another language. This is a common thing amongst people who haven't learned to speak English well. This goes back to things like a literal translation from French to English will have things like the mountain white where we say the white mountain. When people speak in another language they usually first structure what they say in their home language, then translate the words, then restructure the words into the syntax of the language being spoken, sometimes this last stage isn't done well or not done at all, and that can lead to some humorous sounding phrases; like the Hindu man saying, "Telling you, I am, good this is not." - think of how Yoda speaks in the Star Wars films and you can see how syntax can mess up the words but still get the message across at times.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Personally as a reader, I would be much more put off and confused by clear dialog to which the other characters react as if it was incomprehensible gibberish then I would be if that character's dialog was just random strings of letters.


A lot depends on what you're doing in the scene. Then you have to paint that scene. If you don't want people to understand them, then the gibberish is a good way to go. But if you want the other characters to understand what's going on you need to show a translation or a way for them to understand what's being said.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

But if you want the other characters to understand what's going on you need to show a translation or a way for them to understand what's being said.


No disagreement there, I was specifically referring to a case where the other characters don't understand to point out that there may be legitimate reasons to have dialog that the readers wont understand, because they aren't supposed to understand it.

On the other hand, gibberish dialog with characters reacting as if they clearly understand it can be appropriate in the right circumstances. Say you were writing Star Wars fan fiction, How would you handle a dialog exchange between a droid that communicates in beeps and whistles and a person?

tppm

@Chris Podhola

Perhaps the character is German, or Russian, or has a southern accent. The problem is that I don't often hear these dialects, so how can I write them effectively and believably without making them come off in some corny way?


Don't actually try to write the dialects/accents. Write what they say the same as if thy didn't have an accent and add "in a [fitb] accent."

For example, "Heinrich said 'I can take care of that,' in an Argentine accent."

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@tppm

Write what they say the same as if thy didn't have an accent and add "in a [fitb] accent."


And what does that do for readers who have never heard a [fitb] accent? They loose part of the story.

tppm
Updated:

@Dominions Son


But that can in fact be the point. You might have one character with a heavy accent or odd dialect that makes it difficult for the other characters to understand.


Then say that he said something but his accent was so thick you couldn't understand him. Unless he's the viewpoint character, in which case write it in plain English, it being extremely likely he understands his own speech perfectly.

@Dominions Son

And what does that do for readers who have never heard a [fitb] accent? They loose part of the story.


Are you writing a story or giving a language lesson?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@tppm

Are you writing a story or giving a language lesson?


A story is a picture painted for the reader in words. If the reader can't picture it in their mind, what's the point of mentioning the specific accent at all just say "in a heavy accent" and leave it at that.

Replies:   tppm  Switch Blayde
tppm

@Dominions Son

Well, in the example I gave that Heinrich, note the apparent ethnicity of the name, has an Argentine accent, might be informative.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

A story is a picture painted for the reader in words. If the reader can't picture it in their mind, what's the point of mentioning the specific accent at all


And I thought you didn't believe in "show don't tell." The whole point of "show don't tell" is to have the reader live the story rather than be told it.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


And I thought you didn't believe in "show don't tell." The whole point of "show don't tell" is to have the reader live the story rather than be told it.


No, I just have a different take on "show don't tell". To show you tell the reader that the character is taking actions or speaking in a particular tone/volume that imply a particular emotional state rather then simply stating the emotional state.

That paints a vivid multi-dimensional picture for the reader.

You on the other hand want to hand the reader a story seed and make the reader finish the story for you.

To simply leave the emotional state out does not let the reader live the story, it simply paints an incomplete picture with no dimensionality to it.

The problem, in my opinion, with "in an [fitb] accent" is that doesn't paint a picture that is any more complete than "in a heavy accent". It adds nothing, so the incomplete specificity is a distraction.

Personally, if I couldn't write the accent into the dialog, I would just leave it out all together.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Capt Zapp

@Chris Podhola

I don't often hear these dialects, so how can I write them effectively


IMHO, if you don't know enough about the dialect, you probably shouldn't try to use them.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Personally, if I couldn't write the accent into the dialog, I would just leave it out all together.


"Ja, dat is goot, idea."

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


However, I don't use dialectic pronunciation in my stories much at all because I found many readers don't like too much of it. To do it right you have to write the words the way they sound in the dialect and you can't always get that right, but it can be useful to show something about a character at times.


That's what I was doing. The purpose of my example wasn't to show off my dialectic skills, but to demonstrate a way of minimizing dialects so they don't come off too strong.

Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

However, I don't use dialectic pronunciation in my stories much at all because I found many readers don't like too much of it. To do it right you have to write the words the way they sound in the dialect and you can't always get that right, but it can be useful to show something about a character at times.


This is what I'm finding as well. That's why in the example I gave, I noticed that it wasn't weird pronunciations of words that made the difference. It was the way the sentences were phrased and some of the words the character used were a little different from normal, but the spellings of all of the words were correct, with nothing weird about them at all, accept for their placement and in a couple of places, the grammar wasn't ideal. Even that was okay, because it was genuine. That's the way I felt that character would speak.

My original question remains true. I will look into your idea of Youtube, but I'm wondering if that will do it. I think it really is about phrasing. If the Youtube videos have monologues long enough to give a sense of word choices and mannerisms, I do think that would be enough. I'll check it out and I appreciate the reference.

Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

In the example CW used in his post he also used the syntax of another language. This is a common thing amongst people who haven't learned to speak English well.


Regardless of either syntax or dialect, I read CW's example aloud and it didn't sound genuine to me. Regardless of what I felt I needed to convey, I wouldn't cite that as a good example of how to do it correctly. Although it has been a long time, I did spend a year in Germany and I have also spent a considerable amount of time around Spanish speaking people who only spoke broken English. Unfortunately, at these times, I wasn't writing much, so I didn't pay close enough attention to these people to be able to duplicate their habits, but I would recognize it if I read it, or heard it spoken. CW's rendition didn't feel accurate to me. Not at all.

Chris Podhola

@Capt Zapp

IMHO, if you don't know enough about the dialect, you probably shouldn't try to use them.


I typically don't, but I want to. I'm trying to figure out how to expand my horizons here. I point this out, because when I try to, I don't feel like I'm going about it right. I've gotten a few pointers here in this thread, but still looking for more.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


"Ja, dat is goot, idea."


This one doesn't sound bad to me, although I think I would prefer, "Ya, das is goot idea." But I'm assuming this is German, which I am more familiar with than anything because I do speak a fair amount of the language.

Dominions Son

@Chris Podhola

My original question remains true.


Another option would be to find a beta reader who natively speaks the language you want the accent represent and knows English as a second language. That way you have some to bounce your efforts off of.

Capt Zapp

@Chris Podhola

I'm trying to figure out how to expand my horizons here.


In that case I agree with some of the suggestions above. I think the best way would be to listen to the dialect you want to use and become more accustomed to it. Youtube is a good source, but I would stay away from ones that are making fun of them. Try to find ones with real instances of what you are after, not someone trying to fake it (like Jackie Gleason in 'Smokey and the Bandit' - worst faked southern accent ever!).

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

My original question remains true. I will look into your idea of Youtube, but I'm wondering if that will do it. I think it really is about phrasing.


I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but, I was always taught:

Dialect the odd use of words or pronouncing something when someone speaks their native language. A Cockney speaking English is an example.

Accent Is the odd way a person's voice sounds when they grew up speaking another language and are then speaking in English. A French person speaking English is a classic example or the one with a German accent I gave earlier.

Syntax is the sentence structure and mostly how they link the words up in a set order. Many languages have different syntax to English.

How you present them varies with which it really is.

Replies:   Chris Podhola  tppm  sejintenej
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

Dialect the odd use of words or pronouncing something when someone speaks their native language. A Cockney speaking English is an example.

Accent Is the odd way a person's voice sounds when they grew up speaking another language and are then speaking in English. A French person speaking English is a classic example or the one with a German accent I gave earlier.

Syntax is the sentence structure and mostly how they link the words up in a set order. Many languages have different syntax to English.


I never put that much thought into it, but what you are saying sounds true. Thanks.

Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Capt Zapp


In that case I agree with some of the suggestions above.


I agree that some of these suggestions are giving me good ideas. I checked Youtube and was pleasantly surprised.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
tppm

@Ernest Bywater

Syntax is the sentence structure and mostly how they link the words up in a set order. Many languages have different syntax to English.


Famous example, "Throw Mama from the train a kiss."

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Chris Podhola

I agree that some of these suggestions are giving me good ideas. I checked Youtube and was pleasantly surprised.

We should start a separate thread where we list useful foreign language/dialects/accents videos we use to build a common resource. I doubt we'll all use the same nationalities, but it would be handy having them all in one place (hopefully without snide jokes and thread drift into other topics). 'D

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

But then the point could be for the reader to not understand what that particular character is saying, because the other characters don't understand it either.

Surely it depends on a) the other characters and b) the readers.

If all your characters are members of some Original American tribe (as an example) your statement is not relevant BUT the vast majority and perhaps all readers probably cannot understand it. IF you are writing proper Yorkshire dialect then Yorkshire folk and English speaking Scandinavians (but not many Americans) would understand it.

Therefore I would seriously suggest you are very careful about dialect because some of then are close to being other languages

Replies:   Dominions Son
sejintenej
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


Accent Is the odd way a person's voice sounds when they grew up speaking another language and are then speaking in English. A French person speaking English is a classic example


Not always; I had two bosses who spoke perfect accentless colloquial English and with some customers spoke with Americanisms and the appropriate accent. The Brazilian (ex Harvard) occasionally and correctly corrected my English whilst the other (ex sales in Sears, New York) was French though it took months before I found that fact out.

By contrast, my neighbour (a farmer) speaks good technical French but after the Parisian I was taught it took me years to properly understand how he pronounced words.

Dialect the odd use of words or pronouncing something when someone speaks their native language. A Cockney speaking English is an example.


Surely dialect is a local manner of communication based on an established language but using words or phrases either locally created or locally imported and not in use outside the locality. I would class Yorkshire as a dialect in that many words used locally are of Viking origin, often still being used in parts of Scandinavia. example; the main street in York is "Kirkgate" from Kirke ( a church) and gate from gate (a street) and outside York are the "fells" (from Fjell) and mountain or hill

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@sejintenej

If all your characters are members of some Original American tribe (as an example) your statement is not relevant


I explicitly specified a case where one character spoke with a heavy accent/dialect that was incomprehensible to the rest of the characters, so your counter example is not relevant.

I have not written anything that heavy / incomprehensible I'm just saying that there could be a legitimate reason to have dialog that most readers wouldn't understand.

I mostly tend to avoid or go fairly light on dialects/accents because I don't think I could write them realistically. The only strong "dialect" I have written, which should still be understandable to readers is a fictional dialect/accent for a talking dog (not Scooby Doo fan-fiction).

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

Accent Is the odd way a person's voice sounds when they grew up speaking another language and are then speaking in English. A French person speaking English is a classic example


Surely the odd way a person who grew up speaking English sounds when speaking French to a native French speaker would also qualify as an accent?

sejintenej
Updated:

@Dominions Son


@sejintenej

Accent Is the odd way a person's voice sounds when they grew up speaking another language and are then speaking in English. A French person speaking English is a classic example


Dominions Son replied

Surely the odd way a person who grew up speaking English sounds when speaking French to a native French speaker would also qualify as an accent?


My point was that there can be exceptions. The Brazilian was brought up speaking Portuguese, did his National Service in Brazil but still could speak UK English in a way which London people would not know that he was not English. The Frenchman was probably bilingual from childhood but bi-lingual Washington DC - but his UK English was faulty.

I agree that with English that is difficult but there are language combinations where it is relatively easy

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Surely the odd way a person who grew up speaking English sounds when speaking French to a native French speaker would also qualify as an accent?


Yes, he would have an accent to the the French speaker, but would it be an accent to the narrator and the reader. That, you have to decide.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Yes, he would have an accent to the the French speaker, but would it be an accent to the narrator and the reader. That, you have to decide.


That's an easy question to answer. Is the story written in English for and English speaking audience or in French, for a French speaking audience.

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