Part I — How to write authentic dialects and foreign accents Published April 24, By Arlene Prunkl, freelance editor This is the first in a series of blog posts on techniques for writing realistic dialogue in fiction. Of the many things to master when writing dialogue in fiction, creating authentic dialects and natural-sounding foreign accents for your characters is possibly the most challenging. And worst of all, you may appear to be discriminatory or even ignorant by inadvertently stereotyping your characters through how you portray their accents.
British people pay a lot of attention to accents. People from different regions and different social classes have marked differences in speech, and everyone is very conscious of that fact. So if, like me, you tend to write romances that have major characters from a variety of places and social classes, paying attention to accents is important.
Here are a few guidelines and tips for how I do it: I never write an accent phonetically. Everybody has an accent. Absolutely nobody speaks in a way that directly represents the spelling of a word.
Think about whose accents are generally written as dialect in historical romance. Which leads me to rule 2: Accents have nothing to do with intelligence or temperament.
Anyone want to explain to me why the bumbling, aggressive Viking adults all had comic-opera Scottish accents while their open-minded, identifiable-with children spoke like West Coast Americans? But writing exaggerated accents sometimes seems to lead authors into writing characters with the same blithe inability to read social cues as Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.
However, I think it would be a shame to lose the diversity and characterization that come from characters having distinct ways of speaking! So here are some ways to do that while still keeping it understated: Let your point-of-view character tell the reader what kind of accent a new character has.
And it enables the reader to fill in the accent herself mentally if it adds to her reading experience. Remember, there are variations in accents even among members of the same socio-economic or regional group. Some non-native speakers lose their accents almost entirely, some speak with a thick accent after living in a new country for decades.
People with accents know they have accents. They also, probably, know how other people will judge them based on their accent. Think about how differently you speak when talking to your friends, your mother, your co-workers, or a possible employer at a job interview.
Plus, people subconsciously mimic those around them. When I talk to my uncle on the phone, the long-gone traces of Brooklyn in my speech come back. Sophy comes from a working class London background but has been working at a posh job for years.
I imagine she covers up her accent much more when speaking to customers, but when talking to the hero and heroine both of whom come from upper- or upper-middle-class families she uses more colloquial diction and grammar than they do. Make sure any slang or foreign words are either unnecessary to following the action, clear from context, or decipherable by the reader.
One way to do this is use words that resemble other words.Dec 08, · Best Answer: Never, ever spell out accents phonetically. It will be a disaster that no one will be able to read.
What you do is a JK Rowling. Make it clear to the audience that the characters are (Insert Nationality) through setting, slang, and ph-vs.com: Resolved. Nov 17, · I'm writing a book about a girl who is english and she ends up in Scotland.
Everyone speaks with a scottish accent but seeing how I'm not scottish I need to know how to write with a scottish ph-vs.com: Resolved. Scottish English includes the varieties of English spoken in Scotland. The main, formal variety is called Scottish Standard English or Standard Scottish English (SSE).
   Scottish Standard English may be defined as "the characteristic speech of the professional class [in Scotland] and the accepted norm in schools". . Sep 23, · For most accents what's written above is suitable.
Flavour your writing with idioms, instead of trying to write the accent. It's particularly important when it comes to Scottish because, as I said, many Scots don't only speak with an accent but feel they speak in a variant of Old English.
Can you offer a mini pronounciation guide to help us speak with an Scottish accent? The following pointers might help you hone down your Scottish accent - MP3 files with examples of these phrases can be found at The Dialect Guide, an excellent source to help you with your pronounciation.
Oct 23, · I have to say writing in dialect is one of my pet peeves. I read a novel with Scottish characters and the writer insisted on writing the dialogue in Scottish dialect. It was almost as bad as trying to read a foreign language.
I know what a Scottish accent sounds like.