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Dungle
05-26-2011, 11:19 PM
Hello everyone! I was just wondering if any of you non British out there have ever read a novel that is laden with typical English/British slang. Like Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting for instance. And if you got on with it ok or if it was a struggle? Did you lose interest due to not understanding a lot of the lingo?

Kitty Pryde
05-26-2011, 11:25 PM
I'm slightly anglophilic so I have read lots of them. Sometimes when we get books by English authors here in the US, they have been mildly edited to reduce Brit slang or Brit-only words. But sometimes not! It wouldn't normally turn me off, unless there's such a vast quantity of slang that I lose track of what's going on (like I could not get into Clockwork Orange). But even kids books have lots of Brit-only words and just assume kids will figure out what they mean by context...I was reading a MG book and not until nearly the end did I figure out that "lollipop man" is not a man who sells lollipops :D

Dungle
05-26-2011, 11:29 PM
haha oh I see. Well what I am currently writing is riddled with London urban slang and when I get to a point where I can share it on here, I was worried that the critique would be focussed on the not understanding London "ghetto" talk!

Alessandra Kelley
05-27-2011, 12:03 AM
Actually that sounds pretty neat. But yeah, it might be difficult to understand. I think some authors include little dictionaries at the back of their books, but a lot of it is working things out from context.

I've read a lot of P.G. Wodehouse, which seems to include real and made-up upper-class slang. And I was fascinated by Nancy Mitford's explanation of U and Non-U words. If you can somehow make it clear what the words mean, at least once in the story, people should be able to catch on. And since it's more fun to learn real slang than made-up words, I think readers would be willing to give it a go.

Cyia
05-27-2011, 12:11 AM
Slang doesn't bother me nearly as much as when someone tries to write it phonetically.

Dungle
05-27-2011, 01:26 AM
Slang doesn't bother me nearly as much as when someone tries to write it phonetically.
do u mean lik dis m8?

Dungle
05-27-2011, 01:28 AM
Actually that sounds pretty neat. But yeah, it might be difficult to understand. I think some authors include little dictionaries at the back of their books, but a lot of it is working things out from context.

I've read a lot of P.G. Wodehouse, which seems to include real and made-up upper-class slang. And I was fascinated by Nancy Mitford's explanation of U and Non-U words. If you can somehow make it clear what the words mean, at least once in the story, people should be able to catch on. And since it's more fun to learn real slang than made-up words, I think readers would be willing to give it a go.

I thought about a dictionary. Now that you've suggested it, it makes all the more sense to include one. At least you all know I've got your interests at heart! ;)

TheMindKiller
05-27-2011, 01:39 AM
Sometimes the use of slang, especially in large amounts, can be difficult. But at the same time, some readers prefer that. It's sort of like - why do all the aliens in Star Trek speak English?

If I'm reading about something in the ghetto of London or whatever I want to be reading dialogue that reflects that, even if it is difficult to understand.

I don't think you need a dictionary for slang, though. Slang should easy to figure out from context I think.

Another good reason to include slang... it's hard to write accents into a story. People don't think in accents. Even if you say "Dorothy speaks in an accent when she says..." that really doesn't change it in my head. Using coloquialisms and slang can help differentiate ethnicity, race, gender, etc. Especially in England where there's a new accent every 50 feet.

SaraP
05-27-2011, 04:56 PM
Remember some books are americanified for the US market, but Brit movies aren't and they do ok out there. ;)

Fruitbat
05-27-2011, 05:02 PM
I have. It just added interest, no problems.

Bufty
05-27-2011, 05:28 PM
Exercising care with the context in which the slang is used is the easiest way to enable readers to follow slang.

Figuro
05-27-2011, 05:54 PM
I'm in the UK currently - when I moved across from South Africa (I'm English speaking by the way) I was lost with all of the slang and at first had no idea what the heck they were talking about. Slowly have had much of it explained to me and I understand more of it now, although I don't think that I'd fancy reading it in a book if I was still green to the meanings. If you're aiming at an international market, perhaps cut down a little or give a glossary of the meaning to the words at the back of the book. Perhaps that would help. Just my opinion.

JenniferB
05-28-2011, 01:01 PM
American in North Yorkshire, here. It was frustrating to move here originally, struggled with the NY accent and slang - and I love learning about that sort of thing.

However, if the slang is incorporated well, I think it could add, not detract. Like others have said - if the context makes the meaning clear, that could be fun to read. I have struggled through some books with difficult dialect, but at the same time, I hate it when they Americanize UK lit.

I don't like dictionaries in novels if I am forced to refer to it constantly just to understand the story, it takes me out of the story. I prefer to work out the slang from context. I will slog through the slang-dictionary back-and-forth for a very good story, but I don't know if I represent the average reader in this.

L M Ashton
05-30-2011, 01:46 AM
I'm a Canadian and grew up reading just as much British literature as American and Canadian. This summarizes my thoughts pretty well:


However, if the slang is incorporated well, I think it could add, not detract. Like others have said - if the context makes the meaning clear, that could be fun to read. I have struggled through some books with difficult dialect, but at the same time, I hate it when they Americanize UK lit.

I don't like dictionaries in novels if I am forced to refer to it constantly just to understand the story, it takes me out of the story. I prefer to work out the slang from context. I will slog through the slang-dictionary back-and-forth for a very good story, but I don't know if I represent the average reader in this.

Most of the books I've read from countries other than my own, the local word usage can be figured out from context. Sometimes, not so much. But this applies to real life as well. I remember a particularly confusing conversation I had with some women in Sri Lanka about diapers, made confusing because they had very specific definitions for the words diaper, nappy, and Pampers that did not at all coincide with my own. :D

Dungle
06-02-2011, 02:19 AM
Well my WIP is up in the Share Your Work (Other section). It seems the London ghetto slang may have mangled some brains as since Friday there's been no comments haha

envision
06-02-2011, 08:47 AM
I used to live in northern England (I really miss it) and as an American I think most Americans can figure out the British slang. There have been a few terms that have thrown me off a bit, such as "What's the crack?" and "Faffing about," but otherwise I think using a bit of British slang adds to the story and helps the reader escape Hee-Haw Land and head to the land of young wizards and intelligent detectives ;).

JennyM
06-12-2011, 03:40 PM
Good thread, but I'm coming from the other angle. I cannot understand New York slang. Does anyone remember the TV series 'Taxi' - I could hardly follow the drift.

There is a classic comedy series in the UK - every Brit has ROFLOL, called 'Only Fools and Horses' - I lent a DVD of it to a friend from Chicago, she just could not get it! It amazed her that we found it remotely funny.

I am currently reading (researching) a book written over 170 years ago by an upper class lady from PA, US - it's so easy to follow.

I come from the North of England and I married a man from the South (London) he didn't understand some of my language either, such as 'draw' the curtains, 'side' the table, 'bottom' the bedrooms (close curtains, clear the table, give the bedrooms a good old clean).

Language is evolving, I just love to watch it happen. Wonder what Shakespeare would have made of it?

Purple Rose
06-13-2011, 09:52 AM
Being from a Commonwealth country, I still use a lot of English words, many of which are in my memoir especially in dialogue. I also used metric for distance, weight and height.

The freelance editors I worked with (to help me polish my ms) said i should change some words and use only Imperial measure for the American market. So out went words like "miffed", "naf", "bugger all" and "swish" only to be relaced by "annoyed", "tacky", "damn all" and "effiminate". Not quite the same but at least the words would make more sense to an American audience.

People's heights are in feet and inches, weights are in pounds and distances are in miles. I felt like I went back thirty years when i did that made those changes. Then again, the UK still uses Imperial measure. I think they do it just to spite the French.

Guardian
06-13-2011, 10:02 AM
I remember when I was younger, not understanding that a "torch" meant flashlight, not an actual flaming stick. lol. But I love reading stories with slang from the UK. It makes me feel worldly. :P

JenniferB
06-13-2011, 04:37 PM
I just read through your WIP in the SYM forum. Since you asked here about the slang - I thought I'd respond to that here. I liked the dialogue - the slang worked for me. Of course, I've watched UK Skins and other shows here with some slang, so I can kind of "hear" how it should roll a bit better than an uninitiated American might.

I felt like I could see the characters when reading their dialogue and didn't find the slang too heavy. In the context of your story, I can see how you would even need to use the slang for that passage to work or at least to have the same gritty impact.

L. Grumbling
06-26-2011, 09:02 AM
Tough audience here,M8. If Burgess can do it...hey, ya, that's it! Get even edgier and grittier and get your stuff banned. Then it'll sell like...what's the limey equivalent of,hotcakes? I'd say don't sweat the slang, but I'm not usual. Hell, I even enjoyed a bit of middle English once. (M?)

mirandashell
06-27-2011, 01:08 AM
I think they do it just to spite the French.



Yep!

zanzjan
06-27-2011, 02:19 AM
Exercising care with the context in which the slang is used is the easiest way to enable readers to follow slang.

Seconded.


Remember some books are americanified for the US market, but Brit movies aren't and they do ok out there. ;)

And some of us Americans go out of our way to get British editions of books that have had that done to them (-:

-Suzanne

hayray13
06-28-2011, 09:00 AM
Agreed, with basically everyone above.

Many fantasy novels also use slang that is completed made up to suit the stories (although many seem british, to me, at least). I just finished reading a children's/middle grade book by Tamera Pierce with lots of slang/local flavor in the language. So in the long term publishers don't seem to be scared by it either. :)

Bardoyse
07-17-2011, 08:33 PM
Pity to americanify UK novels. Slang adds flavour to any language.

My biggest laugh was when an American reader told me my novel was full of misspelled words. Example: flavour, cancelled, honour and the best: gynaecologist.

Second big laugh: since I live in France, I am constantly asked why the heck I write in English and not in French.
Answer: because I have done so for nearly 50 years now and think and even dream in English.
Question: But how come you speak perfect French?
Answer: Because I live here and have done so for nearly 20 years now.
Oy vey!