Discussion Accents

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by CodyMonKenobi, Aug 10, 2009.

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  1. CodyMonKenobi

    CodyMonKenobi Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 29, 2001
    Sorry if there is another thread for this, but I didn't see one. Usually when writing a character with a thick accent I just picture it in my head and let the reader decide what they think the person sounds like for themselves. But in the story I am writing I started trying to type out the words like I hear them in my head. So I guess the question I have is do any of you ever do that, does it make it harder for the reader to read. I can't remember reading any other story on the boards that do this so I thought I would ask and see what some of your opinions were on it.
  2. mujapple-juicey

    mujapple-juicey Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 21, 2008
    well, I'd just go ahead and type it the way it sounds, the way they do it with Jar-Jar, but just don't over-do it. And a warning crafted into the writing might help too, if it works out.
  3. YodaKenobi

    YodaKenobi VIP star 6 VIP

    May 27, 2003
    Eye dialect is pretty common in fiction and can help distinguish characters from one another. I say go for it.
  4. CloneUncleOwen

    CloneUncleOwen Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 30, 2009

    Most writers put in a "disclaimer" or explanation line before adding it:

    Darth Trojan's thick Vicodin drawl was short and to the point. "Hoot, man. I'm naw ah lady!"

    Done right, accent is very smart. The reader can tell a great deal about your character almost immediately.
    Now Jar-Jar... oh brother! Talk about overkill.

    Now,if I can just learn to tipe, uh type.

  5. KithuraVess

    KithuraVess Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 19, 2008
    I say go for it, too. :D Just don't make it too thick - like the "Zomerzet" people in Lorna Doone, for example....
  6. madman007

    madman007 Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 22, 2007
    Since accents and dialect are auditory, and we are dealing with the written word, I will give other characters their interpretation of another's accent. Like I'll say, She had a distinct Coruscanti accent, or His accent sounded like a Neimoidian's. Since we know how those accents sound already, I give the reader a description of how they sound. Rarely do I spell phonetically on how an accent should sound...unless I'm doing a Southern accent (which I have done in a Star Wars fic)
  7. Iverna

    Iverna Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 20, 2008
    Typed-out accents tend to annoy me because even when they're written phonetically, I tend to read them wrong. And aside from that, they just... annoy me. What I usually do is describe the person's accent - either by comparing it to one we've heard like Imperial, Neimoidian etc, or just by how it sounds. Clipped, soft, drawling, whatever. Usually I'll listen to someone who has the accent (sometimes myself) and then try to describe what I'm hearing. I'll type out some accented contractions like "gonna", "ain't", "dunno" or something, but not too much of it. Mostly, like I said, just because it bugs me to read it and I don't see a reason for it. You'll rarely see it done in profic, or at least, in the profic I enjoy reading, so... yeah. That's my personal opinion on it.
  8. moosemousse

    moosemousse CR Emeritus: FF-UK South star 6

    Oct 3, 2004
    I just thought I'd throw this into the mix:

    [link=]Order of the Stick #305: The Epistle of Durkon[/link]

  9. CloneUncleOwen

    CloneUncleOwen Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 30, 2009
    Iverna and Madman have valid points. Accents can be very annoying or lost on the reader if poorly written. Again, use the
    infamous Jar-Jar. Instead of clever and witty, it's obvious and forced... it makes no logical sense and adds nothing to
    the story line. And have you ever read a story, novel, etc. and then seen it produced as a television/film project and
    been absolutely lost at the pronunciations. DUNE is a good example... are the Harkkonens HAR-koe-nans or har-KOE-nans?
    The list is endless, and it confuses fans when it happens.

    The hallmark of a really sharp writer is their ability to take accent as a challenge of description... "the Edyminion's
    dry rasp sounded like rusty barbed wire dragging over concrete" or "tearing paper" or anything else. The trick is to
    be poetic without cliche, or so esoteric that the reader is lost; "the velvet flow or her antediluvian drawl reminded
    him of a Deltinian socket wrench in the rain" (Huh?).

    I'm always for accent, done well.

  10. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    Less is more - but I wouldn't avoid entirely. I TOTALLY agree with the concept of the "soft drawl that caresses the senses" approach :D BUT - if the dialect is understandable rather than head scratching, I'd go for it in MODERATION.

    Weesa knows what we mean!

    I've waded through dialogue I've really needed a translator for and also read lots of dialogue that really flavored a story.

    "Ah don't know 'bout that" isn't too hard to understand.

    It's really no different than panting or struggled words where you use "..." or " - ."

    He struggled for breath, words harsh and clipped in his urgency. "Must - alert defenses - attack coming. The Force warns me - coming." His head fell back as his eyes carried his desperate plea.


    "Must - alert - defenses - there's an...attack...coming. The Force...warns me...."

  11. BigE

    BigE Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 31, 2002
    I tried using 'eye dialect' for a fic I had long ago discarded, and I must say that even I found it annoying when I read it to myself. :p
  12. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2002
    I rarely (if ever) write accents in, because I hate reading 99% of them - even in books. It just gives me a headache. So I'd say describe the accent or do VERY little, because it's one of those things that can be a turn-off, especially at the start of the story.
  13. CloneUncleOwen

    CloneUncleOwen Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 30, 2009
    How about some examples of accents gone wrong? One of my favorites in the genre is INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.
    The wretched 'Short Round'. Why didn't they just call him 'Racist Little Stereotypical Asian Boy Speaking Pidgin English'?
    And what was it, RAMBO II? Vietnamese Sidekick: "They say she ho fum villij, Ramblow."

    Any others?
  14. DaenaBenjen42

    DaenaBenjen42 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    May 15, 2005
    What madman said about a southern accent made me want to go find the best example I knew of, so...

    "Uh, sort of, mah... _husband_ and Ah are off to visit mah relatives in New York."

    This was Rogue, talking to a police officer, and the author wanted to portray the accent in the written. It's still understandable what she's saying, but 'my' was replaced with 'mah' and 'I' with 'ah'.
  15. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 10, 2005
    I agree with most everyone, it can be done and done well but it can make it very hard for your readers to follow. In the book Of Mice and Men (if I remember correctly) it was used very well, yes it was hard to understand at times but that was part of the point. I've read other books where it was almost impossible to read because you had to spend so much time decoding what they were saying.

    I would definitly advise having more than one person read what you've written before you post it, just to make sure it is understandable. Sometimes it's hard for the author to do that because they already know what it says! ;)
  16. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2002
    Something like what Daena posted isn't bad, but OM&M annoyed the hell out of me (and not just because I hated it). When you can't understand what they're saying easily, it takes away from the enjoyment of the story.
  17. Thorn058

    Thorn058 Jedi Master star 3

    Jul 28, 2008
    As annoying as it can be sometimes if the author can pull it off it helps to define the character in a way that all the descriptive writing in the world can't. If you can nail a character's personality with just a few mines of dialogue and then carry it through the rest of the story that can stay with a person. If you have ever read anything by David Eddings in his second series the Mallorean he uses a type of scottish brogue(spelling?) for a traveling juggler/slash storyteller. The words convey what the voice sounds like and you can be swept away in the story. "tis part of me charm, dontcha kno, me darlin" So he establish the character through the use of an accent. Karen Traviss does this as well in her Republic Commando novels. THe character of Sargent Skirata really doesn't have an accent per say but he does have a very workman like, fatherly way of speaking that convey's plenty about his character with the need for descriptive writing.

    So as many others have said give a go but let some one proof it first because as our little green friend told us "Do or do not, there is no try"
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