Author Topic: How to write slang, etc...  (Read 13112 times)

Offline redmeat73

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How to write slang, etc...
« on: May 21, 2008, 06:10:33 PM »
How would i go about correctly writing slang or bastardised words such as ave, instead of have. Or ma, instead of mine...etc.


Matt..
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domenic

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2008, 06:49:38 PM »
That would depend on where your characters are from?

PaulW

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2008, 06:51:45 PM »
Don't. Just write what you're trying to say. It rarely works well to write in slang. A few authors have mastered the technique, Terry Pratchett for example. Most of the time though it just looks stupid.

'Aye, I'm wa hame th'noo lass', Donald said.

'Aye, I'm away home now lass," Donald said in his thick Dundonian accent.


The first one just stops readers in their tracks, trying to decipher it. The second one gives you the idea of a scottish voice by word choice and attribution hints. The first may be more authentic but the second keeps them reading. Same goes for slang. If it isn't generally known, don't use it.

(Incidentally, it's not slang you're using, it's accents - slang would be  'up the apples and pears' for stairs in cockney, or mullered for drunk.)



« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 06:54:23 PM by PaulW »

Offline alec

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2008, 07:26:25 PM »
I tend to disagree with Paul - I think that it's not such a bad thing to write the words out as they would be spoken. as far as Scots goes it certainly works for the super-commercially-successful Irvine Welsh (trainspotting, big bucks, film etc.) and also for the super-critically-acclaimed James Kelman (booker prize).

it all depends on how you want to approach language; there's nothing wrong with making your text easy to read but if you want linguistic authenticity it often comes at the cost of the reader's ease, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Offline eric

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2008, 08:19:10 PM »
You come up against the genius exception here, Marlowe.  Just because one or a few very gifted, very famous individuals clearly break the rules does not mean that the rules are crap and all of us can get away with violations.  Cormack McCarthy comes to mind, for instance.  The truth here is that Paul has stated the rule, it is a very correct and well-founded one that has been around for a long time, and it makes sense.  Probably the most salient reason for this is that most of us have no clue how to really portray the accent phonetically.  By simply rearranging the words as Paul suggests, you can suggest the accent without descending into the thicket of reproducing its sounds.  It is actually more inauthentic to try to reproduce sounds and not do that, an outcome you're hugely prone to accomplish, than just suggesting the sound and letting the reader's ear fill it in for you. 

Something like portraying sex.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 11:46:55 PM by eric »

domenic

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2008, 09:55:04 PM »
It has been noted by many of my good friends on MWC, that I am not the master of good grammar; but, now we speak of slang...
you have come to play in my field. As Paul has warned; and he is an expert in this area... "The pen must at length comply with the tongue." Translated.."Unless you have mastered slang in a known tongue, put your shoes on and walk with the accent you have mastered."

In country talk.."Ya better wear hip boots walking in that field partner."

Offline mustang6944

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2008, 12:43:49 AM »
And that brings up the other problem with slang. As you write it, you will know the connotation. But that does not always mean the reader does or that the reader is anunciating it correctly. Also it comes to mind that a slang for one may be different in another part of the country let alone world. Take the word Pop for example. In the Southern part of the United states it is short for Soda Pop; it also is slang for father or to hit someone.

domenic

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2008, 12:57:00 AM »
The major problem today with slang; is Websters (3rd edition) has made many slang words as excepted words to speak...which means they are no longer slang, and are subject to the same rules of grammar as normal words...
Ah, one day my bad grammar will right in line with Harvard.

Offline bobby digital

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2008, 10:40:57 AM »
There's a thin line between colloquialisms and slang...

To have slang written (out as Paul demonstrated above) would for me be a hindrance. And I'm guessing that after a couple of sentences trying to work out exactly what is being said I'd give up.

But with that said, I do believe colloquialisms can add to any characters 'voice' by adding a sense of authenticity. Especially if they are true to the specific time period, location, or culture.

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Offline Caffers

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2008, 02:12:48 PM »
When writing in slang, I tend to look for variations in construction rather than concentrating on phonetics. People can still get the feel for the accent or the style of speech without the confusion that phonetically transcribed accents can deliver.

Offline Linton

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2008, 02:45:56 PM »
I think Paul had it spot on - a few hints to the accent enable the reader to 'hear' it in their mind, as they read.  If I was trying to read (and fathom out) faithfully written accents I'd just get bored.  In my novel, Prince Rupert speaks with a German accent and I have mentioned this.  But for me, writing it as "Ya Uncle vee must try to outflank ze roundheads" is plain silly - more like Allo Allo!
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Offline Full Tilt Boogie

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2009, 09:10:36 PM »
How would i go about correctly writing slang or bastardised words such as ave, instead of have. Or ma, instead of mine...etc.


Matt..

There's always this wonderful redoubt: The Oxford Dictionary of Slang




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Offline Max Zvyagintsev

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2009, 12:07:35 AM »
If you've read the book "Of Mice and Men" There is a lot of slang used there but hey, the book was a great sucess and sold millions of copies. Slang would be used in "speech" of your characters and dont' worry about it too much.

As long as it's fairly clear by context what your character is trying to say, the story will flow well!

Max
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Offline bonitakale

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Re: How to write slang, etc...
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2009, 07:50:47 AM »
I think Paul had it spot on - a few hints to the accent enable the reader to 'hear' it in their mind, as they read.  If I was trying to read (and fathom out) faithfully written accents I'd just get bored.  In my novel, Prince Rupert speaks with a German accent and I have mentioned this.  But for me, writing it as "Ya Uncle vee must try to outflank ze roundheads" is plain silly - more like Allo Allo!

Hear, hear! And we do need to hear, not decipher, the speech of the characters.

Besides, phonetic transcription may come out differently depending on the accent of the reader. There are a lot of English people writing "er" or "ar" when I, in the US, would write "uh" or "ah" to describe the same sound. And if you're from Yorkshire, how do you read a transcribed Yorkshire accent? If you're from Mississippi, how does your mind translate the letters that are trying to spell out how you sound?

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