Sunday, April 11, 2010
Sunday Muse-ings. Accents.
I usually read books that are written by authors who are more talented than I am, particularly where descriptive prose is concerned. It helps me find my inner voice, by challenging me.
I lost a little ground this week in writing progress because I had to go back and revise stuff that I had written while reading for my first review. Grrrrr. No worries, though, I'm doing the Malazan challenge and Erikson doesn't affect me that way. I find him very hard to read, and that, believe it or not, makes my writing better.
I'm originally from the Isaac Asimov school of prose, which is essentially plainspeak. It has a level of accessibility that still addresses complex people, places and things. That noted, I still wanna be GRRM when I grow up. Seriously. ;-)
I received my first 'critical review' return on the first chunk of my novel, and I am pleased to announce that it didn't get burned! Yay!
Which brings me to what I'm musing about this week.
Accents. If a character has a regional dialect, this brings up a couple of concerns.
One is - will it sound like an accent to others with the same accent? If two people from Boston are talking to each other, do they even realize - or hear - their Mass. accent?
You're thinking, "Probably not."
So, the question REALLY is: Should a reader hear their accent if the speakers don't recognize them? (And yes, this will leave me with a crapload of revising if I change how I'm doing things.)
Let's say Billy Joe Bob has a thick southern accent. Yeehaw, ya'll! Giddy up! (Etc.) Does the voice in his head, his internal monologue, have that accent, too? Or as JoeBob might say, "Dunno what de're goin' on 'bout, ah tawk jes fine."
I'm of the opinion that internal monologues are never accented. Because that voice in our head is perfect.
I'm of the opinion that accents consist of two distinct attributes. One is the formation of lips, tongue and teeth to produce the words inside the head. The other is the vernacular, certain words used to describe certain things, which may sound unusual to someone from another region.
"Pop", "Soda", "Coke", "Cola", "Cool refreshing beverage." - Same thing, just depends where you're from.
Bonus question: Once you've been through a few chapters with a heavy accent, is it okay for the accent to disappear a little bit (and spare you trudging through it), since you've sorta gotten used to the characters and their oddities - and then if/when they meet someone from another region/culture, to reintroduce that accent, because it will be an unfamiliar usage of the language to the new perspective?
Or is it better to keep up the accent throughout?
I've studied a few languages (I'm barely fluent in English, sorry can't impress you here), and I'm a huge fan of regional dialect as a way to distinguish cultural gaps. But if you're not well traveled or experienced in foreign languages, accented dialogue could be a bit annoying.
I'm interested in whatever you have to say about it.
Otherwise, have a great week.