PDA

View Full Version : Quick question about accent



Shay Dee
06-06-2013, 02:40 PM
Hi guys,

So I've started a new project, sci-fi/fantasy, so not set on our world. It's based around four large isles, one in particular is a bit Zenophobic. So I have this character who meets my MC who happens to be from another island, different accent included.
So here I am trying to give him an accent and I can't help giving him a west indian (Caribbean) one. I'm trying to mix it up a little but just can't help it!

Not sure if I'll keep it this way but just testing it and how it sounds to me and to you guys. I don't like writing things phonetically so I've gone for how the character speaks rather than sounds. I'm not trying to make him sound authentic to any real west indian accent, as long as in reading, an accent comes through.

Take a look and tell me what you think?
Thanks!

**********************************************
MC comes around from being momentarily knocked out by an unknown person(s) and wakes to a conversation.

‘I say slap him one time *if* you want. You give him a concussion.’

‘We were told he was aggressive. Better safe than sor- and look, he’s fine.’

‘Beside the point! He can get much done seeing double?’

My trailer ceiling came into view.

‘Boy...’ Someone clicked their fingers. ‘You can hear me?’

I propped myself up and sat against my kitchen drawers.

‘Focus. Focus...’ More clicking of the fingers.

A shadow hovered by my face until the features of a man crouching beside me began to appear. He was dressed in black, wearing a turtle neck, which just looked uncomfortable, and his blueberry dyed hair made his complexion come across unnaturally white. He had a strong jaw, too - clean shaven - like those stupid men who pranced around in brief ads. And I couldn’t even begin to describe his accent; sharp C’s like K’s, missing words, calm but quick…never heard anything like it before.
************************************************** **

mirandashell
06-06-2013, 02:46 PM
I'm hearing *an* accent, but it's not WI. But then I'm not sure that matters unless the character is meant to be WI. And in this case, he's not? So I'm not sure there is a problem.

Shay Dee
06-06-2013, 02:54 PM
Nope, not west indian IF I can bloody help myself. The further I go the more west indian it sounds though:

‘Time telling, at least you is good at that. Also, you does eat dog when you out there? It taste nice? You catch worm like that? Them does sell dog meat in the Lower Tier but I never try it...’

And I'm wondering if it matters or if i should try and steer away seeing as it's not on our planet and go for something a bit more original.

Bufty
06-06-2013, 08:57 PM
I don't get any sense of accent from the OP.

From the second post I get a sense of somebody who has difficulty in speaking perfect English but it doesn't convey an accent as such to me - certainly not West Indian and it's nothing I could pin down to anywhere.

Any help?

mirandashell
06-06-2013, 09:38 PM
Hmmmm... I'm still not getting WI. What I am getting is a poor person who hasn't had much education. And before anyone jumps up and down on my head, that is NOT a WI accent. I grew up and still live in a city with a very large Jamaican community along with a lot of people from the other islands. So I do know what a WI accent sounds like. But I'm just not getting it from your characters.

So I'm not sure it matters, no.

Shay Dee
06-06-2013, 10:25 PM
If you're not getting WI that's good. I wouldn't describe it as a poor person without education though! WI people speak more pigeon English that that!

"look in that cupboard" - "look in ah de cupboard"
"him over there" - “ look him de-e-de“

I suppose WI encompasses sooo many accents. That's how my dad speaks. Up top is my dad speaking in his casual English accent. On the phone he just speaks proper English. But I might be lucky enough to be using a WI accent that's not well known.

Above everything else, does it irritate you to read?

mirandashell
06-07-2013, 02:04 AM
Well no. There's no problem with that. But it's really not coming over as accented, just uneducated. It may have something to do with the way you're writing it but are you saying that in your Dad's usual accent, he doesn't use the past tense?

mirandashell
06-07-2013, 02:15 AM
Actually, I just reread it the first bit and it could be someone whose first language isn't English. Or any Roman/Germanic language. The tense use just sounds that way.

Shay Dee
06-07-2013, 02:59 AM
Yup! That's exactly how he would say things when he's comfortable and casual. He also knocks the S off things. So he sometimes won't say things like Dog's or Dogs, instead he'll say "them dog are viscous you see?" (dem darg are viscous yu see?) or "You see the dog them?" (yu see de darg dem?)
He never says Cocoa Pops or Sainsbury's either! He'll ask my daughter if she wants some Cocoa Pop. Or he'll say he's going Sainsbury.

Weirdly enough he always gets Jamaican's for removing the H in words where there is one, and putting it in words where there isn't one, i.e "Hen" = "en" and "England" = "Hinglan"
I don't hear much Jamaican people but when I say it to Jamaican people they laugh so I don't know if that means it's true or not!

Just in case you're curious I found a clip of a young lady speaking with a Vincy accent (my dad comes from St. Vincent). Towards the end you'll hear she drops past tense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB-ldoQ6jP4

Not many videos of St.Vincent accent. I once went to carnival waving the St. Vincent flag and had British people with a WI background asking "What flag is that?!"
St.Vincent is right next door to the island that over shadows it; Barbados. As well, St.Vincent isn't a very touristy island because it has unattractive "black sand beaches" so not many people know it.

mirandashell
06-07-2013, 02:39 PM
Ahhhh! Well, that explains it then cos I've never met anyone from St Vincent. Is it 'a dot on the map' island?

And yeah, Jamaicans do tend to have a wandering aitch. Or haitch!

Shay Dee
06-07-2013, 03:20 PM
haitch this! lol

Absolute dot on the map, but no bigger than Barbados I'll add :tongue Though it's often called St.Vincent and the Grenadines...sometimes St.Vincent doesn't even show up on the map!

Thanks for all your help though, I'll keep using the accent for now, but keep two edits. If beta readers are like "na uh!" then I always have the other copy to go back to.

mirandashell
06-07-2013, 03:22 PM
Good idea. You won't really know how it works until you've finished. For all you know, the beta readers may not even notice the accent.

onesecondglance
06-07-2013, 05:04 PM
[no longer relevant :)]

Kitty Pryde
06-07-2013, 06:25 PM
I wouldn't say it sounds uneducated, just sounds like not any American English dialects. Planet of vaguely Caribbean people? Sure, why not? It worked for Toby Buckell.

mirandashell
06-07-2013, 08:01 PM
I wouldn't know about American English accents.

Shay Dee
06-07-2013, 08:03 PM
I wouldn't say it sounds uneducated, just sounds like not any American English dialects. Planet of vaguely Caribbean people? Sure, why not? It worked for Toby Buckell.

Which book is this of his? I'd like to see how he does it.

*Edit* Found Crystal rain! Interesting....

Kitty Pryde
06-07-2013, 08:12 PM
Which book is this of his? I'd like to see how he does it.

*Edit* Found Crystal rain! Interesting....

There are at least three books in the series.

Kim Fierce
06-08-2013, 02:43 AM
"‘Time telling, at least you is good at that. Also, you does eat dog when you out there? It taste nice? You catch worm like that? Them does sell dog meat in the Lower Tier but I never try it...’"


I liked your first example. Just be careful because this second example was toeing the line with Jar-Jar Binks for me ;-)

Shay Dee
06-08-2013, 04:25 AM
"‘Time telling, at least you is good at that. Also, you does eat dog when you out there? It taste nice? You catch worm like that? Them does sell dog meat in the Lower Tier but I never try it...’"


I liked your first example. Just be careful because this second example was toeing the line with Jar-Jar Binks for me ;-)

These are the things I really want know, because when I read it, I can't do so without the accent I'm familiar with. But those who don't know it... Well. Jar-Jar.
Atleast you didn't say Yoda... Lol

J.S.F.
06-08-2013, 06:50 AM
"Not say--do".

Yoda right there for you, mon! (Oh, sorry, that's Jamaican:D)

Seriously, I'll have to agree with Kim on this one. The first example was better. I don't know much about WI accents. In a couple of my novels I have Texans who speak with a pronounced drawl which I state clearly the first time the MC meets them. "Ah tol' you, Harry, it don't work lahk that."

It may seem a little overboard to some, but I wanted to get that effect. The characters are sympathetic and heroic in their own way, so I don't think it's stooping to caricature. Maybe on the verge, but not crossing over.

In the end, OP, you have to decide how your dialogue will play out and if the jargon is likely to confuse the reader. I wasn't confused at all, but someone unfamiliar with West Indians and their patois might be. All in all, your novel sounds pretty interesting!

lolchemist
06-08-2013, 09:05 AM
OT but my story is set in tropical/Caribbean inspired islands too and I also have a blue haired character! /OT

Anyway, I also don't notice the accent, I just see a hint of a dialect, if you use your imagination you could pretend it's a Russian accent or an Arabic one or a Brazilian one and you could get away with it, it's that subtle.

Shay Dee
06-08-2013, 11:38 AM
Thanks JSF! With your Texan accent I know what you're saying and that's probably because I know it well enough to recognise what's being said.
I'll see how it plays out with the Beta's. Because it's set in a made up world I don't think people will immediately think WI accent but they may do... I'll have to see.

And thanks for your input lolchemist. Subtle is good. As long as the reader can read it and get what's going on. That's what I want more than anything! P.S what's your story about then?!

Bufty
06-08-2013, 08:27 PM
I feel it is preferable to concentrate more on word choice and sentence structure than phonetics.

For instance, to anyone not familiar with the Caribbean variants, reading Hingland does not come across as England spoken by someone in the Caribbean even though it does sound like that. Most English speaking folk sound as if they are saying Ingland when they say England, but it's not spelled Ingland.

Phonetics work better in comedy than in a straight novel.

So long as the reader knows from the outset the speaker is from a certain place subsequent dialogue will be translated by the reader without the need for excessive phonetics.

I say 'excessive' because there are odd bits where a phonetic may work - but they are far less effective than imagined, and word choice and sentence structure usually aid better clarity and flow even though it's a fictitious world or accent/dialect.

Good luck as you progress.

Kitty Pryde
06-08-2013, 08:51 PM
Midnight Robber is another planet of quasi Caribbean people novel. It's really good but it's written mostly in a creole/patois (I know they are not synonyms, but the author calls it both). It's a great book but the dialect really wore me out. It was cool but too hard to read. On the other hand, I suspect the author (Nal0 H0pkinson) could write an entire dissertation on the importance of her decision to write it that way! Opening:


Oho. Like it starting out, oui? Don’t be frightened, sweetness; is for the best. I go be with you the whole time. Trust me and let me distract you little bit with one anansi story…


It had a woman, you see, a strong, hard-back woman with skin like cocoa-tea. She two foot-them tough from hiking through the diable bush, the devil bush on the prison planet of New Half-Way Tree. When she walk, she foot strike the hard earth bup! like breadfruit dropping to the ground. She two arms hard with muscle from all the years of hacking paths through the diable bush on New Half-Way Tree.

Shay Dee
06-09-2013, 03:23 AM
@Kitty. Yeah with things like that, I think, a whole book written in broken english would be a bit much. I think I could go with it but obviously I hear the accent in my head and everything makes sense. But If I were to read a book written with an accent I'm unfamiliar with, I'd be lost and it would irritate.
Big decisions are made when a book is written like that! I think they have the potential to alienate people. My opinion.