Regional accents in prose...Strong language and mature theme

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Thread: Regional accents in prose...Strong language and mature theme

  1. #1

    Regional accents in prose...Strong language and mature theme

    How do you do them convincingly. In the UK at least we have a land replete with regional accents. Indeed in Wales accents can vary between towns barely 10 miles apart. I am writing a short story about a night out in the working men's clubs of the South Wales Valleys and would dearly love to put some 'welsh flavour' into the spoken word. Not looking for a critique thanks. Take the first few paragraphs:

    ------------------
    A Night Out in the Welsh Valleys

    Warning: Mature and with Strong Language.

    I’m stood in the toilets of the local football team’s social club beginning to feel that early onset unsteadiness brought on by the over enthusiastic ingestion of Cardiff’s finest brew, Mr Brain’s S.A. Short for Strong Ale to the uninitiated, or Skull Attack for the more knowledgeable among us. The tin trough urinal in front of me is drumming, no vocalising, an acceptance of my offering with commendable variation in pitch, and life, all in all is feeling good.

    Stood next to me is what archaeologists have been searching for, for most of the 20th century, the missing link between us and Cro-Magnon man.

    “What the fuck you looking at?” says Cro-Magnon

    “Hard to say mate, there’s no label attached”

    At this point I am mentally cursing Mr Brain for brewing his truth serum of a beer and breathe a sigh of relief when the lavvy door opens and Cabdo Morgan makes an entrance. Cabdo is a warrior of a miner, a natural, whose physical senses, dimmed by the dark and noise of years at the coal face have been replaced by almost psychic sensibilities to the proximity of danger. It is also my good fortune that Cabdo is one of tonight’s drinking buddies.

    Good old Cabdo has the situation weighed up in an instant. I look first at the 5’ 4” of Cabdo and then the 6’ 3” of Cro-Magnon. Undeterred Cabdo says

    “You got a problem with my mate?”

    To which Cro-Magnon, in a moment of critical underestimation says

    “See you pint size, piss off or you’ll get the same as your pal over there is going to get.”

    Cabdo, unimpressed with the Glaswegian ‘See You’ euphemism takes a swing at Cro-Magnon’s solar plexus but can only connect with the groin instead. It is a fortunate overestimation of Cabdo’s reach. As Cro-Magnon staggers back, holding his crotch his elbow catches me and I fall into the urinal. At his moment the lavvy door opens yet again….
    --------------------------
    The characters above could be from anywhere. Is it possible to process a dialect convincingly or is it just too much trouble? Anyone tried to do such a thing?
    Last edited by Kepharel; March 1st, 2014 at 08:34 PM.

  2. #2
    "Wha'the fuck you lookin' at?"

    Removing slurred over letters or silent letters can sometimes really add to the effect, as above. I have a texan sounding character who says things like this:

    "Ah'm na' shure how ya'll're gonna git outta this'n."

    Bishop
    If you ever need a second set of eyes on your work, PM me for a critique! I'm happy to help Hidden Content

  3. #3
    In my opinion, the dialogue you wrote could really be said by almost anyone—and I'm saying this as an African-American from the big city. Only the words "mate" and "lavvy" and the phrase "piss off" add any flavor. Actually, some of your wording outside of the dialog adds more flavor than the dialog itself—"I'm stood" is quite exotic indeed.
    Publisher of the Durham Skywriter (Hidden Content ), Durham NC's online community paper, and host of TV Skywriter, Sundays 7pm USA Eastern time, on YouTube and Google+'s "patriciaAmurray" page. Currently working on my first nonfiction book, "And Then We Saw an Eye: Caring for a Loved-One with Alzheimer's at Home"

  4. #4
    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for the input. Your being an African-American from the big city kind of encapsulates the problem with adding realism through dialogue spoken in Wales in the UK. Take the following line of dialogue in the passage I submitted for example.

    “Hard to say mate, there’s no label attached”

    If you truly were in the rest-room of a social club in the Rhondda Valleys of Wales what you might hear, spoken phonetically, would be

    “Dew, ‘ard to say butty; no label attached see, iznit”

    This sentence will be completely incomprehensible to most so the following translation may help:

    “Dew” is a word of idiom denoting exasperation; an Australian equivalent being “Strewth” standard English I guess being God’s Truth. “Butty” is another word of idiom found commonly in the Welsh Valleys with the Standard English translation being “friend”; and finally “izznit” (silent t at the end) being a colloquialism employed at the end of the majority, though not all spoken sentences which may comprise an oral conversation in the Welsh Valleys. It is redundant with regard to any additional understanding or emphasis in its use. Standard English equivalent is “Isn’t it”.

    So while I may fill my dialogue with a realistic, phonetically correct Rhondda accent, any extensive use may test the patience of even the most hardened reader not having experience of South Wales or the Welsh Valleys in particular.
    Last edited by Kepharel; March 3rd, 2014 at 08:59 AM.

  5. #5
    WOW! You're right—I wouldn't have understood Welsh slang written phonetically at all! And I'm not familiar with the words "dew" and "butty." I guess too much flavor would be incomprehensible.
    Publisher of the Durham Skywriter (Hidden Content ), Durham NC's online community paper, and host of TV Skywriter, Sundays 7pm USA Eastern time, on YouTube and Google+'s "patriciaAmurray" page. Currently working on my first nonfiction book, "And Then We Saw an Eye: Caring for a Loved-One with Alzheimer's at Home"

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