Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Writing slang / dialect

edited January 2013 in The Toolbox
QUESTION:

If you script a character who speaks in a California valley slang (which sounds like they are asking a question) do you add the *question mark* to get the cadence of their speech? Or do you let proper grammar go its course?

My editor (who I really like -- don't get me wrong) seems to be all about proper grammar.
However, I tend to write characters *by ear*.  Teens do not often use proper grammar.

Comments

  • Oh, definitely the question mark for the rising inflection. Like, that's kind of their whole deal?
  • edited January 2013
    I don't know if using a question mark to indicate pitch would be effective, because readers are so accustomed to it being a grammatical indicator. It changes the meaning of the words, not just the intonation?

    See, I said that with a lilt at the end, and it probably looked like I wasn't sure.  But I was.  So if it could be a question, it might be OK, but not if it's just their way of making a statement.
    Teens do not often use proper grammar.
    Regular people either. I try to write like people talk. "Got milk?" isn't bad grammar... it's simply modern grammar.  For most characters, saying "Do you have milk?" instead is wrong, and even "Have milk?" is iffy

    Where it starts getting tricky is when you try to duplicate the way people pronounce things.  There are some neo-words that I'm OK with (such as "gotta"), but it's easy to go too far with it ("I'm gonna hafta get melk") and I refuse to legitimize grammatical trainwrecks ("I should of gotten milk") even if the character doesn't know that he's saying it wrong.
  • And too, the pictures count. A (pardon the stereotype) young blond with a bored expression and the question mark lilt reads differently than a middle-aged salaryman looking confused.
  • I tries to keeps it real.
  • As Josh knows, I'm mildly grappling with this, sort of - one of the characters is British, and he ought to sound that way without reading like the comic equivalent of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

    But I may be worrying a little too much - people seemed to grasp, by and large, that The Librarian had a British accent in Luther, so I apparently can do it.
  • @JustinJordan - The Librarian definitely scanned as American-movie-British-villain to me. Tim Curry or Alan Rickman, the slight accent, versus, I dunno, a Guy Richie villain.

    (It's fun to play chicken with 'Orrible Mockney though; I did that a bit with Charlie in THAW. Mighta maybe lost my side mirrors and door paint from a few close shaves while doing so, though; there's definitely a line or two that I'm like "ah, too much".)

  • I wrote this blog post a couple of weeks ago:


    My opinion: Phonetic spelling works best for parodies or humour but  careful word choice and ordering is usually more than enough to convey accent.
  • I'm writing an all-British comic right now, so I have the tricky double dilemma of not overdoing the dialect while defining each character enough. For the most part, aside from particular slang, there's not a big difference. (And I've had English colleagues review scripts when necessary.) But I do clip consonants and the such to designate a character's regional or socioeconomic background (i.e., Cockney versus RP).
  • "The Librarian definitely scanned as American-movie-British-villain to
    me. Tim Curry or Alan Rickman, the slight accent, versus, I dunno, a Guy
    Richie villain."

    That's the intent. The new guy is more Stathamy, so we'll see how it goes.
  • I'm having *fun* (subjective) writing slang right now.
    In particular, street punk / thug / gangtsa' - rap style.

    It's pretty ugly -- but that's my intent for this twist in the story.

    As for California Valley intonation... I like the question mark.  My editor... will not.
    I guess since I'm not a *real* writer that my modern slang is more like poetry.  I like to make it do Jazz-esque kind of things. I like it to be visual, phonetic, and kinetic. It doesn't play well with editors but that's my style.

    That said... a good writer should have a variety of styles.  Writing California Valley should be one of them.
  • Speaking of modern grammar...

    "So can we be, like, friends instead of enemies?"

    or...

    "So can we be like, friends, instead of enemies?"
  • Try adding italics for clearer emphasis:

    "So can we be, like, friends instead of enemies?"
  • @Jimmie_Robinson - Tricky. First one's definitely "right", but the second one actually reads to me like how I think you want it to sound.
  • Cross posted from Jimmie's thread:
    Stephen King writes in dialect. So does Irvine Welsh, iirc, when he wrote Trainspotting.
    Also, what about using some sort of symbology to indicate the cadence of the speech? Like Melody's musical notes in Archie comics. Or you could put in an editor's note box, like in old Marvel comics, or in Scott Pilgrim ("rating: awesome").
    Just some ideas...
Sign In or Register to comment.

Debug Trace

Notice
The addon in /plugins/AboutMe has 1 issue(s).

#0 [internal function]: gdn_ErrorHandler(1024, 'The addon in /p...', '/home/steve55/p...', 795, Array)
#1 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/Addon.php(795): trigger_error('The addon in /p...', 1024)
#2 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/Addon.php(829): Vanilla\Addon->triggerIssues()
#3 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/cache/addon.php(1582): Vanilla\Addon::__set_state(Array)
#4 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(319): require('/home/steve55/p...')
#5 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(740): Vanilla\AddonManager->ensureMultiCache()
#6 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1094): Vanilla\AddonManager->lookupAddon('stubcontent')
#7 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1074): Vanilla\AddonManager->lookupByType('stubcontent', 'addon')
#8 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(247): Vanilla\AddonManager->startAddonsByKey(Array, 'addon')
#9 [internal function]: {closure}(Object(Garden\Container\Container), Object(Gdn_Configuration), Object(Vanilla\AddonManager), Object(Garden\EventManager), Object(Gdn_Request))
#10 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/vendor/vanilla/garden-container/src/Container.php(723): call_user_func_array(Object(Closure), Array)
#11 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(308): Garden\Container\Container->call(Object(Closure))
#12 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/index.php(23): require_once('/home/steve55/p...')
#13 {main}
Notice
The addon key must match it's subdirectory name (about me vs. AboutMe).

#0 [internal function]: gdn_ErrorHandler(1024, 'The addon key m...', '/home/steve55/p...', 797, Array)
#1 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/Addon.php(797): trigger_error('The addon key m...', 1024)
#2 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/Addon.php(829): Vanilla\Addon->triggerIssues()
#3 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/cache/addon.php(1582): Vanilla\Addon::__set_state(Array)
#4 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(319): require('/home/steve55/p...')
#5 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(740): Vanilla\AddonManager->ensureMultiCache()
#6 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1094): Vanilla\AddonManager->lookupAddon('stubcontent')
#7 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1074): Vanilla\AddonManager->lookupByType('stubcontent', 'addon')
#8 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(247): Vanilla\AddonManager->startAddonsByKey(Array, 'addon')
#9 [internal function]: {closure}(Object(Garden\Container\Container), Object(Gdn_Configuration), Object(Vanilla\AddonManager), Object(Garden\EventManager), Object(Gdn_Request))
#10 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/vendor/vanilla/garden-container/src/Container.php(723): call_user_func_array(Object(Closure), Array)
#11 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(308): Garden\Container\Container->call(Object(Closure))
#12 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/index.php(23): require_once('/home/steve55/p...')
#13 {main}
Notice
The addon in /plugins/Emotify has 1 issue(s).

#0 [internal function]: gdn_ErrorHandler(1024, 'The addon in /p...', '/home/steve55/p...', 795, Array)
#1 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/Addon.php(795): trigger_error('The addon in /p...', 1024)
#2 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/Addon.php(829): Vanilla\Addon->triggerIssues()
#3 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/cache/addon.php(1806): Vanilla\Addon::__set_state(Array)
#4 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(319): require('/home/steve55/p...')
#5 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(740): Vanilla\AddonManager->ensureMultiCache()
#6 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1094): Vanilla\AddonManager->lookupAddon('stubcontent')
#7 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1074): Vanilla\AddonManager->lookupByType('stubcontent', 'addon')
#8 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(247): Vanilla\AddonManager->startAddonsByKey(Array, 'addon')
#9 [internal function]: {closure}(Object(Garden\Container\Container), Object(Gdn_Configuration), Object(Vanilla\AddonManager), Object(Garden\EventManager), Object(Gdn_Request))
#10 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/vendor/vanilla/garden-container/src/Container.php(723): call_user_func_array(Object(Closure), Array)
#11 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(308): Garden\Container\Container->call(Object(Closure))
#12 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/index.php(23): require_once('/home/steve55/p...')
#13 {main}
Notice
The addon should have at most one plugin class (EmotifyPlugin, EmotifyPlugin).

#0 [internal function]: gdn_ErrorHandler(1024, 'The addon shoul...', '/home/steve55/p...', 797, Array)
#1 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/Addon.php(797): trigger_error('The addon shoul...', 1024)
#2 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/Addon.php(829): Vanilla\Addon->triggerIssues()
#3 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/cache/addon.php(1806): Vanilla\Addon::__set_state(Array)
#4 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(319): require('/home/steve55/p...')
#5 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(740): Vanilla\AddonManager->ensureMultiCache()
#6 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1094): Vanilla\AddonManager->lookupAddon('stubcontent')
#7 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1074): Vanilla\AddonManager->lookupByType('stubcontent', 'addon')
#8 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(247): Vanilla\AddonManager->startAddonsByKey(Array, 'addon')
#9 [internal function]: {closure}(Object(Garden\Container\Container), Object(Gdn_Configuration), Object(Vanilla\AddonManager), Object(Garden\EventManager), Object(Gdn_Request))
#10 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/vendor/vanilla/garden-container/src/Container.php(723): call_user_func_array(Object(Closure), Array)
#11 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(308): Garden\Container\Container->call(Object(Closure))
#12 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/index.php(23): require_once('/home/steve55/p...')
#13 {main}
Notice
The addon with key GoogleSignIn could not be found and will not be started.

#0 [internal function]: gdn_ErrorHandler(1024, 'The addon with ...', '/home/steve55/p...', 1076, Array)
#1 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1076): trigger_error('The addon with ...')
#2 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(247): Vanilla\AddonManager->startAddonsByKey(Array, 'addon')
#3 [internal function]: {closure}(Object(Garden\Container\Container), Object(Gdn_Configuration), Object(Vanilla\AddonManager), Object(Garden\EventManager), Object(Gdn_Request))
#4 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/vendor/vanilla/garden-container/src/Container.php(723): call_user_func_array(Object(Closure), Array)
#5 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(308): Garden\Container\Container->call(Object(Closure))
#6 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/index.php(23): require_once('/home/steve55/p...')
#7 {main}
Notice
The locale with key SequentialWorkshop could not be found and will not be started.

#0 [internal function]: gdn_ErrorHandler(1024, 'The locale with...', '/home/steve55/p...', 1076, Array)
#1 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1076): trigger_error('The locale with...')
#2 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(249): Vanilla\AddonManager->startAddonsByKey(Array, 'locale')
#3 [internal function]: {closure}(Object(Garden\Container\Container), Object(Gdn_Configuration), Object(Vanilla\AddonManager), Object(Garden\EventManager), Object(Gdn_Request))
#4 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/vendor/vanilla/garden-container/src/Container.php(723): call_user_func_array(Object(Closure), Array)
#5 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(308): Garden\Container\Container->call(Object(Closure))
#6 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/index.php(23): require_once('/home/steve55/p...')
#7 {main}
Notice
The locale with key SQWSHP could not be found and will not be started.

#0 [internal function]: gdn_ErrorHandler(1024, 'The locale with...', '/home/steve55/p...', 1076, Array)
#1 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/library/Vanilla/AddonManager.php(1076): trigger_error('The locale with...')
#2 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(249): Vanilla\AddonManager->startAddonsByKey(Array, 'locale')
#3 [internal function]: {closure}(Object(Garden\Container\Container), Object(Gdn_Configuration), Object(Vanilla\AddonManager), Object(Garden\EventManager), Object(Gdn_Request))
#4 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/vendor/vanilla/garden-container/src/Container.php(723): call_user_func_array(Object(Closure), Array)
#5 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/bootstrap.php(308): Garden\Container\Container->call(Object(Closure))
#6 /home/steve55/public_html/sequentialworkshop.com/forum/index.php(23): require_once('/home/steve55/p...')
#7 {main}