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Fuckin' Aye

jimh67

I've tried reading A Perfect World at least four times, but I can't get past the cringe-worthy ghetto talk. It's a painfully artificial gimmick that forces me to focus on writing style, taking me out of the story and making any effort to suspend disbelief doomed to failure. I know it's a mental tick and it's probably just me, but there we are.

Replies:   aubie56
aubie56

@jimh67

I agree with you and have had the same problem.

eqtwink

in the latest story he addresses the cultural reasons for the way names and language evolved the way it did for those who left earth. Its far better than the cringeworthy use of whilst and other 'I've got a broader vocabulary than you'phrases used by authors that have sprung up in the last few years.

Keet

Now imagine if your native language is not English...
I gave up on it too.

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@Keet

I also gave up on it. Constant non-English or dialects are turning me off from a story as a non-native English reader.

Same thing happened with Flight of the code monkey.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  Straggler
Not_a_ID

@sunkuwan

I also gave up on it. Constant non-English or dialects are turning me off from a story as a non-native English reader.

Same thing happened with Flight of the code monkey.


So on the "Realistic vs Annoying" it is trending strongly towards annoying? :)

I can somewhat sympathize with what the Author is trying to do, it is a different world than the one we live in. They're trying to show you how they conceive people in that setting behave and communicate with one another.

And even for me, I don't think "American English" is going to continue to resemble English after another one to two hundred years. I'm pretty sure it is going to hybridize into something else, just not sure what. And that's going to be a PITA for those trying to use it, as it will undoubtedly have "Evolved naturally" and when you merge multiple lingual systems together, you get a mess to say the least. Which actually kind of describes English already. :)

But more generally, I'd probably say the better practice is to be a little "relative" rather than literal in demonstrating such things. If what is now considered "profane language" is considered "normal use" for those characters, you as the author may just want to play translator and "shift" it back to our "current lingual standard."

So if "Hey Fuckface" is their version of "Good morning" then write it as "Good morning" instead. It might require a bit of creativity if you then end up with a "fish out of water" (or time) diving into that, but that just means your vocabulary usage decisions need to be carefully considered from the start.

Remus2

Every spoken language gets slaughtered with sufficient distance.
I understood what he was trying to do, even though he went a bit overboard on it.

sunkuwan

@Not_a_ID

So should we suffer through Shakespearian English in stories that play some hundred years ago?

Language changes, that doesn't mean that we have to read it without a translation in a fictional story.

Mention the differences, even a dozen times, include some catch-phrases, even. But I don't need to wade through several sentences of dialect that I have to translate into normal English. Especially, because English is not my mother-tongue.

richardshagrin

Mass media, things like national TV, radio, Hollywood motion pictures and even magazines that are sold everywhere will help keep English (both American an all the other Englishes) close to the current standard. There will be new words and expressions, some of which will become standard and some won't, but public schools teaching "English" will help keep the language understandable to our grandchildren, and probably their kids. That's if all the residents use English. All bets are off if Spanglish, Getto language, or some musical influences (Rap Music?) take over. Once more than one language becomes used by a lot of the population you get something like the Philippines where 7,000 plus islands have nearly that many dialects, and they kept English so they can talk to each other.

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

So on the "Realistic vs Annoying" it is trending strongly towards annoying? :)

I can somewhat sympathize with what the Author is trying to do, it is a different world than the one we live in. They're trying to show you how they conceive people in that setting behave and communicate with one another.

I've noted before that there's a right way and a wrong way to do accents and dialect in literature. When you first introduce a character, you let him go whole hog, but only for one or two paragraphs, so that readers have a feel for how he speaks. After that, you scale WAY back so the story is still understandable. Then, rather than continually pushing the difficult to comprehend dialect, you use only a few 'key phrases', just enough to remind readers that the character is speaking with an accent, but you don't don't extend it any farther than that.

I always loved A Clockwork Orange, but there too the English Cockney accent was unbearable! So even literary giants fall prey to the same traps.

Replies:   eqtwink
PotomacBob

@Not_a_ID

I don't think "American English" is going to continue to resemble English after another one to two hundred years.


During that same time period, is English English going to stay unchanged?

Crumbly Writer

@PotomacBob

I don't think "American English" is going to continue to resemble English after another one to two hundred years.

During that same time period, is English English going to stay unchanged?

I'm not so sure of either claim. Dialects arise when a community is in relative isolation. Now that virtually everyone the world over can tell the difference between a Brooklyn and a Boston accent, and knows all the American lingo because of movies and TV, and people fly between counties on a regular basis now, I suspect you'll find the various versions of English will slowly blend. That's not so much because the Brits will voluntarily give up their accents, but rather that everyone else will adopt the American version, just like they've done with "Internet English". And once the younger generations of Brits start pronouncing words the way they do in movies, they'll likely switch too.

I could be wrong, as it's difficult to guess long-term trends like this, but it seems more likely given the various common cultural reference we didn't have just a couple of decades ago.

Replies:   helmut_meukel
awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

During that same time period, is English English going to stay unchanged?


Judging by crosswords in the UK daily newspapers, it's morphing into Eurobic. People are expected to know details of Arabic clothing and religious mythology, and all the possible Italian words for wheat dough and its accompaniments.

AJ

eqtwink

@Crumbly Writer

It seems to me that your way is the lazy way and the trap. It takes the story out of context and homogenizes the characters. In this story the distinct dialects are particularly needed to emphasize the distinction between the societies and their roots. Your way would end up with all the characters speaking the same way and as a result the important differences between the characters would fall to the background and get lost. In the latest story in particular these differences are the reason for the story.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@eqtwink

It seems to me that your way is the lazy way and the trap. It takes the story out of context and homogenizes the characters. In this story the distinct dialects are particularly needed to emphasize the distinction between the societies and their roots. Your way would end up with all the characters speaking the same way and as a result the important differences between the characters would fall to the background and get lost. In the latest story in particular these differences are the reason for the story.

Not necessarily. It's a safeguard from overwhelming readers with difficult to parse dialects, but it doesn't eliminate having different characters speaking in shorter sentences, or the smart-ass expounding ad-nauseum (remind you of anyone?) All it does is to illustrate how a character's accent sounds, and then rather than continuing to bludgeon readers with these mostly trivial details, you simply remind them of the accent so they don't forget.

Creating distinct characters is hard—but there's no reason to make it equally difficult on the readers too.

That said, if you've ever read my work, you'll notice that I typically fall into this self-same traps, as most of the characters speak exactly like me. But again, that has nothing to do with their accents, idioms or dialects, it's simply a reflection of how I think and discuss things, so I extend it to my characters.

It's best to separate characters from yourself, but also to separate their personalities from cheap tricks, like odd-ball dialects. Defining characters is more involved than just giving them odd diction.

Replies:   Argon
Argon

@Crumbly Writer

Can't agree with your standpoint. Guy with the name of Zane Grey had his characters talk in local dialect throughout his stories and did not loose too many readers to guess from his book sales. Compton MacKenzie wrote most of the dialogue of his Whisky Galore in Scots, some even in Gaelic, with only the "Sergeant Major" speaking in his native English tongue. Still a very entertaining read, even to a non-native reader such as me. It just takes a little more time to fully immerse oneself, but then the immersion is very deep and gratifying.
I for one am very happy that Al has rejoined us and is once again offering us his uniquely crafted tales. I especially admire his ability to be consistent. It's one thing to throw in a paragraph of slang, but it takes a lot of concentration to keep at it. Those who cannot hack it can find enough other stories composed in mainstream English and according to the rules set forth in one of the many how-to-write-a-bestseller books.

Ernest Bywater

@Argon

Guy with the name of Zane Grey had his characters talk in local dialect throughout his stories and did not loose too many readers to guess from his book sales.


He may not have lost readers who were buying his works, but he would have lost a lot of readers who read samples and decided never to read them because they didn't like that style. I know a lot of people who love westerns but don't read Zane Grey because they find the works hard to read. I know lots of people who don't like reading Shakespeare or Chaucer because they find the works hard to read. The same is true for many authors, some people like their style and some don't.

Replies:   Argon
Argon

@Ernest Bywater

The same is true for many authors, some people like their style and some don't.

Fuckin' aye! 😄

Straggler

@sunkuwan

same thing happened with Flight of the code monkey


Interestingly, I was surprised how much Maori I was able to internally translate, most of the words have made their way into normal Kiwi vocabulary although we only tend to understand them rather than use them. But I gave up on FotCM as well - every time it seemed to be going somewhere it would head off in a different direction.

Crumbly Writer

@Argon

Guy with the name of Zane Grey had his characters talk in local dialect throughout his stories and did not loose too many readers to guess from his book sales.

While Zane Grey happened to tap into a particular set of reader interests, a better example would be Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce. While wildly applauded by critics at the time, it was a tremendous financial loss, both for the publisher and for Joyce. The book was completely impenetrable. The writing was beautiful, but no one could make heads or tales of the story, the characters, or where the book was heading.

It's one thing to target books at a specific audience by featuring their backgrounds (i.e. having the characters speak like them, and reflect their values), but it's another when the language plays center stage and the story ultimately gets lost along the way.

To this day, Zane Grey is considered a popular hack-writer, while James Joyce is considered a literary 'genius' whom no one could ever understand.

kimlsevier

Another factor is when Grey wrote folks who spoke like he wrote or knew folks who spoke like he wrote were still alive.

helmut_meukel

@Crumbly Writer

Now that virtually everyone the world over can tell the difference between a Brooklyn and a Boston accent, and knows all the American lingo because of movies and TV,


Probably true for native speakers of some or another version of English, but for most of the worlds population it's translated into their native tongue. If it's synchronized no chance at all to know which lingo was used origionally. If it's original with subtitles, some viewers may get the differences, but most struggle to read the subtitles and will miss the differences in the spoken sentences.

I don't try a prognosis about English, but for German the usage of dialects increased in the last decades, especially in Switzerland. There even TV news are told with a destinct Swiss pronunciation. This makes it hard for French or Italian speaking Swiss to understand the Swiss German, because they learn standard German in school.

BTW, how different are the British and American editions of Anne McCaffrey's Pern series and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books?

HM.

Replies:   awnlee jawking  Not_a_ID
awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

Probably true for native speakers of some or another version of English, but for most of the worlds population it's translated into their native tongue.


Me neither, and I'm a native English speaker. I can distinguish a few UK regional accents but, as far as I'm concerned, Americans all speak with an American accent.

AJ

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@helmut_meukel

I don't try a prognosis about English, but for German the usage of dialects increased in the last decades, especially in Switzerland. There even TV news are told with a destinct Swiss pronunciation. This makes it hard for French or Italian speaking Swiss to understand the Swiss German, because they learn standard German in school.


"National Dialects" are a different creature. Although sheer size difference can impact that in various ways.

American English vs "The Crown's" English (I know it is more properly "The Queen's English" at present, at least until it becomes "The King's English" once more) is an example in regards to Hollywood and the American Music Industry. When it comes to their having enormous global influence. Helped in large part due to the United States having a domestic media market that outnumbers virtually all of the UK, and its other English speaking former colonies combined.

That one of those former UK Colonies happens to be Canada and it happening to be neighbors to the United States just further adds to the imbalance.

Not_a_ID

@awnlee jawking

Me neither, and I'm a native English speaker. I can distinguish a few UK regional accents but, as far as I'm concerned, Americans all speak with an American accent.


You probably pick up on the New England accent as it sounds more like British English. It's still different, but its closer to "normal" for the Brits.

If you cannot pick up "the southern drawl" when it's allowed to run unchecked, you're deaf.

You should be able to pick up on pidgeon English, or whatever other more recent names its derviatives now have, without respect to its baseline being American or Brit.

Most of the other accents, generally agreed, that would likely require more than just mass-media exposure to pick up on.

Replies:   jimh67  awnlee jawking
jimh67

@Not_a_ID

Regarding the southern drawl. Is it just me or is there a distinct country music drawl? I'm a yankee but while I was in the Army I was based in three southern states and knew may southerners. But very seldom did I hear that hard, almost exaggerated accent country singers use.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
awnlee jawking

@Not_a_ID

I've just sat through three American crime dramas, nominally based in New York, Chicago and Portland. They all sound just American to me. Ergo I must be deaf. I certainly didn't hear anyone cooing like the feathered vermin which land on the lamppost outside my house so they can poo on my car :(

AJ

StarFleet Carl

@jimh67

Regarding the southern drawl. Is it just me or is there a distinct country music drawl? I'm a yankee but while I was in the Army I was based in three southern states and knew may southerners. But very seldom did I hear that hard, almost exaggerated accent country singers use.


I'm worse - I'm a damn Yankee. (Which means I've moved from one of THOSE states down to the Glorious South and now live here.

What I've noticed is that the southern drawl can be there, but I think my ear has become attuned to it such that I don't have much trouble with it, in and around the metro areas. There's too many people associated with Tinker, with one of the hospitals, or with one of the Universities, for that drawl to survive. Now, y'all getcha couple of hours outside of town, and that exaggerated drawl is just right.

richardshagrin

damn Yankee

Mt wife, born in Alabama but moved to North Florida early, told me she was a teenager before she learned damnyankee was two words.

Remus2

Queens English is to American English, what Spain's Español is to Mexico's Español. The same can be applied to French, Portuguese, etc.

PotomacBob

@richardshagrin

And what is her evening meal - supper? or dinner?

awnlee jawking
Updated:

@richardshagrin

Mt wife


That could lead to a host of bad-taste jokes :(

AJ

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