Monday, 4 October 2010

Shall Us Do Some Dialect?

A friend was describing an excellent but eccentric plumber who was working on his house.  At one point, halfway through the working day, the plumber set down his tools and said, "Shall us go for a walk round the village?"

Say it out loud.  Shall us go for a walk?  

Now try this. Shall we go for a walk? 

Your voice will be different.  You can't simply can't say Shall us go for a walk? without a hint of a West Country burr. 

This is the best - the  only way - to write dialect.  Forget funny spellings, forget apostrophes, it's all in the rhythm of speech, phrasing, grammar - and use of dialect words, which I'll do tomorrow.     

8 comments:

womagwriter said...

Great timing, thanks Sarah, as I have been struggling to add some nineteenth century Sussex dialect into my WIP..! Looking forward to your next post.

Sarah Duncan said...

That sounds hard - no wonder you're reading period novels to get the flavour. It sounds as if I'm advising sloppy research/writing but if you're struggling, I'd suggest not forgetting that readers will want to read the story, and won't give two hoots about the exactness of the dialect. Worry about that when you've got the story right.

ian said...

I just love blogging and as i get spare time from busy schedule i start working on it. Wonderful post, I really enjoyed reading it!

Sarah Duncan said...

Thanks Ian, hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

womagwriter said...

I found a book, online, of Sussex dialect which was composed in Victorian times. Perfect! But I plan to only include a couple of unusual dialect words from there, and otherwise try to use rhythm to convey the accent, as you suggest. I'm also not worrying too much about getting it right in the first draft - will tone it all down in the edit!

Sarah Duncan said...

That sounds a great find - bet it's got some fab dialect words. Enjoy!

womagwriter said...

There's a link to it now, on my blog if you're interested (along with a link to this post!)

Sarah Duncan said...

" I most-in-ginral goos to church, but I goos to chapel other-while when 'tis so shabby."

Love it! Lots of useful links on the blog post too.