Tuesday, 5 October 2010

What is a Bahookie?

When my children were small one of their favourite stories was about a small dog called Sam who kept on getting into various forms of mischief. At no point was it said where Sam came from, nor was the story scattered with apostrophes. One of the stories concerned Sam trying to get through a hole in a fence. Now Sam was also known as wee Sam, or wee fat Sam. Trying to get through the fence, his wee fat bahookie got stuck.

Now, I don't know what a bahookie is exactly, but I didn't need the illustration to make a good guess as to which bit of Sam's anatomy was stuck. And you can't say "wee fat bahookie" in any other way than with a Scottish accent. Bahookie: it's such a great dialect word, and putting it in the text - one aimed at small children - conveyed the dialect better than any Och aye would have done.

Dialect words are precise. They say 'me duck' in Leicester as a form of endearment, but it's 'me ducks' in Nottingham not that far away. In Cornwall it's 'me cock'. What about cariad, dearie, love, my lover? All the same meaning, all different locations. Get the words right, and the reader will hear the right accent in their heads.


womagwriter said...

'It's all about putting fannies on seats,' said a bloke on the news this evening. And now you know what accent he had.

Sarah Duncan said...

And the wonderful thing about good dialect is, I also know exactly what he looked like.

badas2010 said...

I've just had to rewrite a short story I'd done in cockney dialect.
I put back all the dropped aitches and the bleedins, the ain'ts and the innits, and do you know, it still reads like a cockney.

badas2010 said...

Sorry - I put bacvk all the dropped aitches and TOOK OUT the bleedins, ain'ts and innits.
That's better.

Sarah Duncan said...

Innit great you don't need 'em bleedin dropped aitches. I think if you can hear the voices clearly in your head the speech rhythms will follow naturally -as you've just proved.