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Noizchild
09-16-2015, 02:48 AM
Tomorrow, I'm going to write from the POV of a person with a Scottish accent. How do I execute this without butchering it or trying too hard.

Helix
09-16-2015, 02:53 AM
Pick a region. Listen to how people from that region talk. Don't write phonetically. Use sentence structure and idiom instead.

asroc
09-16-2015, 03:00 AM
I'd suggest to mainly use the accent as flavor and sprinkle in the occasional Scottishism instead of writing the entire dialogue with an accent, because that tends to get very tedious. Less is more.

Haggis
09-16-2015, 03:32 AM
What Helix and asroc said. If you want to see how bad it can read to write in dialect, take a look at Joel Chandler Harris in one of his Uncle Remus stories (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22282/22282-h/22282-h.htm). To me, it's damn near unreadable. Twain, who I love, wrote in dialect too, though not that bad. IMO, it's a good way to lose readers in a hurry.

Cath
09-16-2015, 04:36 AM
There is no generic Scottish accent. It's highly regionalized. Edinburgh and Glasgow are less than 50 miles apart and the accents are distinctly different (I lived in Scotland for 10 years, by the time I left colleagues Edinburgh couldn't distinguish me for a local and I still couldn't fully understand half of the broadest Glaswegian accent).

Language patterns are distinguished, and many Scottish dialects use very correct structure, e.g. in Fife, locals will ask "Do you not?" rather than "Don't you?". Done well, the sentence structure could be a good marker of accent without trying to render dialect.

You need to get familiar with the language before you try to write it. Try looking for videos of Billy Connolly on YouTube, or find shows like Rebus or Taggart.

WriterDude
09-16-2015, 08:46 AM
There is no generic Scottish accent. It's highly regionalized. Edinburgh and Glasgow are less than 50 miles apart and the accents are distinctly different (I lived in Scotland for 10 years, by the time I left colleagues Edinburgh couldn't distinguish me for a local and I still couldn't fully understand half of the broadest Glaswegian accent).

Language patterns are distinguished, and many Scottish dialects use very correct structure, e.g. in Fife, locals will ask "Do you not?" rather than "Don't you?". Done well, the sentence structure could be a good marker of accent without trying to render dialect.

You need to get familiar with the language before you try to write it. Try looking for videos of Billy Connolly on YouTube, or find shows like Rebus or Taggart.

Yes. Pick a region as they vary, but also find some scots on YouTube and listen closely. Glaswegian Billy Conelly says "you know" alot, and I knew a girl who ended a lot of sentences with "just now", though I don't know where she picked that up.

Calder
09-16-2015, 03:09 PM
I agree with everything that's been said so far. There's a huge range of regional accents and dialects in Scotland. Writing an accent phonetically is extremely difficult and tends to produce sometimes impenetrable results. This from Neil Munro, one of my all-time favourites:

'"Deid!" cried the Brodick man. "What do you mean by deid?"

"Chust that it's no' livin'," said Para Handy coolly. "Dougie and me bought
wan in the Bird Market, and Dougie was carryin' it doon to the vessel in a
sugar-poke when he met some fellows he kent in Chamaica Street, and went for
a dram, or maybe two. Efter a while he didna mind what he had in the poke,
and he put it in his troosers pockets thinkin' it wass something extra for
the Sunday's dinner. When he brought the poor wee bird out of his pocket in
the mornin', it wass chust a' remains." '

Best, as has been said, to listen and listen and listen. You can do wonders with the correct phrasing or, as they would say in the Western Isles:
'It is wonders you can be doing with the correct way with the words.'

I've recently written a Scottish character and contented myself with Scots phrasing and the odd phonetic word. A great deal depends on the class of Scot you are portraying. An educated lowlander would say 'Do you not have a train to catch?' Phonetically, a more 'common' person could say 'Dinnae ye no' hae a train tae catch?' but I think that's a bit much, and settled for 'Do you no' have a train to catch?' It's the phrasing which makes it 'Scottish.' The ' no' ' adds a little 'Scottish' emphasis.

It's not too difficult to recognise and use enough basic patterns in phrasing to carry it off, but it will take some time and you need to take care to be consistent and avoid phrases not in keeping with your character. e.g. 'by the way,' added habitually to the end of a sentence is pure Glasgow, by the way. You'd hear it from a Glaswegian like Billy Connolly, but not from Sean Connery, who hails from Edinburgh.

But you must listen, listen and listen again. To the suggestions already made, I would add 'Rab C.Nesbitt' (glorious broad Glaswegian) and 'Dr. Finlay's Casebook' ('generic/general' Scots, but written for sassenachs.)

Helix
09-16-2015, 03:23 PM
There's also Parliamo Glasgo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52t1CWVTrLE)w (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52t1CWVTrLE).

Lil
09-16-2015, 07:09 PM
If you don't really know the dialect, the safest thing to do is say something like, "He said, speaking in a broad Scottish accent." And minimize the dinna's, ken's and lassies.

blacbird
09-16-2015, 10:41 PM
The Munro example provided above is about as far as I would read that style before turning to a more friendly book. Same with Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. Yeah, I know, they're both successful novelists, but . . .

caw

Noizchild
09-17-2015, 04:10 AM
Thank you, everyone.

cat_named_easter
09-19-2015, 01:09 AM
I agree - listen to LOTS before attempting this.
I'd also say, it depends a lot on the time your novel is going to be set during. If it's modern day or not too far back in the past, be careful not to go too Robert Burns-ish. No one speaks like that anymore :) Even a couple of the examples above are a little archaic. I'd keep it subtle.

Bufty
09-19-2015, 07:24 PM
And what you write and think is Scots sounding may be entirely different from what your reader hears or imagines. Steer clear of trying to be too clever.

Jo Zebedee
09-19-2015, 08:51 PM
I've written two Northern Irish based books (not a kick in the teeth away from Scottish) and dialogue is hard. (I guested posted about it here last week: http://www.sffworld.com/2015/09/guest-post-the-sense-of-a-place-by-jo-zebedee/)

A couple of tthoughts:

the scots and irish speak fast - punctuation can be your friend for that eg a splice where it might normally be a full stop. (Someone noticed I'd done that the other day, and mentioned that it worked. I blew out a huge sigh of relief.

know the voice well. Go off and listen to people using the accent - try to pick up casual users, too. You tube might be useful, if you look up particular cities? Or, choose an actor or public person who approximates what you want and listen to them (some Scots come to mind - David Tennant, Robert Carlyle, Robbie Coltrane, Billy Connolly)

slang - used sparingly can work well. So eg the word 'wee' is used a lot in many lf the scots accents. Without going overboard, popping the odd one in can work. But it's about the odd one for flavour, not peppering it.

The he said in a broad Scots accent can work, but I find less so if you're in close pov and showing direct thoughts in the regional dialogue.

Also, think about what you want - is it to make the Scottish-ness part of the appeal (in which case, you might want to give a flavour) or just for an unusual settting (in which case, stating its Scottish might be enough.)

lastly, get a Scottish, or someone familiar with it, beta. (If it's the western side of the country, I'd have a look at something short if it helped. If Glasgow or Aberdeen - hard one to do, btw, because of the Doric (iirc) influences - seek locals from there?)

Bufty
09-19-2015, 08:59 PM
First, decide why you must have Scots-speak at all. If you don't need it, don't use it. What is said is usually way more important than whatever dialect or accent it is spoken in.

And most people are perfectly capable of translating what they read into what they think is the accent/dialect of whoever spoke, be it American English Irish Australian or whatever. The occasional local phrase with careful choice of word/sentence structure is all you need - if that.

Noizchild
09-20-2015, 02:57 AM
I'm going for Edinburgh-sounding. The character was born in Scotland.

Calder
09-20-2015, 05:02 PM
I'm going for Edinburgh-sounding. The character was born in Scotland.

A good choice. Edinburgh English is mainly cultured and precise, very close to received English and without the dense dialect of somewhere like Glasgow, or Aberdeen ('Fit diddee dee o' '). Just get the phrasing right, questions as statements is a good start ( e.g. 'You'll be leaving after dinner?' ) and include the odd 'Scottishism' ( e.g. 'wee') and you'll be on the way, but, please, take time to find and listen to Edinburghers, or Dunedians, or whatever you want to call them (They can't seem to make up their minds, themselves.)

Maxinquaye
09-20-2015, 05:16 PM
https://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_leid - that's Scottish. About half of Scottish academics will tell you that Scottish is a seperate Language to English, based on Old Northumbrian Old English. Scots developed in parallell to southern English until the Act of Union in 1707, and after that it was heavily repressed as barbaric and uncultured. Kids used to be beaten in school for speaking Scots and Gaelic.

Why I tell you this is because with Scottish you need to be very careful, or you'll get it very wrong. 'Doric', what the Scots call their language, is heavily present. For an illustration read Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. It's heavily present in day-to-day speech. Even in Edinburgh, although Edinburgers are generally inclined toward Standard Scottish English.

For most accents what's written above is suitable. Flavour your writing with idioms, instead of trying to write the accent. It's particularly important when it comes to Scottish because, as I said, many Scots don't only speak with an accent but feel they speak in a variant of Old English. Sort of like how Norwegian and Swedish are mutually intelligible.

Robert Dawson
09-20-2015, 06:52 PM
The English that you are writing your narrative in is far from phonetic. If you can have silent letters in your words, so can your character. Also, the English language does not have a single sounds-to-symbols coding that is valid everywhere. A string of letters that represent one set of sounds in New Jersey will usually represent quite another set of sounds in Liverpool or Jo'burg. Two reasons why phonetic representation is a bad idea!

One can identify at least three levels: goin', goin, going. The first supposes a normative pronunciation and indicates that the speaker is not using it. This can be correct - for example, when the speaker is affecting a pronunciation they would not normally use, like Lord Peter Wimsey doin' his bally fool with an eyeglass act, don't you know? Whether this is in good taste (a) in and (b) outside the story is a matter requiring some care. It can also be used, in 1POV or close 3POV, to indicate that the POV character notices the speaker's accent: but this should (IMHO) be used very carefully.

The Uncle Remus approach uses it to indicate that the author thinks the character talks funny. This is (IMHO) bad writing. You are your characters' only spokesperson to the reader, and it is unprofessional to make fun of them. A peculiarly nasty example is the nonstandard spelling that does not represent a different sound. This has no possible meaning except to hint "IF Buddy tried to write this out, he'd get it wrong, ha, ha."

The second suggests to me that somebody - writer or speaker - is being deliberate about it. You want received pronunciation? Well, you listenin to the wrong guy. (Modern literary Scots is a weird special case here. As you can see from the link above, there has been a very deliberate effort to separate its orthography from that of "standard" English. What's come out is a semiconstructed language, like the fonetisized Inglish that Shaw championed for a while - and a cynic might postulate a tiebreaking rule, "in case of doubt, find out what the English are doing and do the opposite.") I would approach this one with great caution unless it's your own dialect.

I'd go with the third. Using dialect words is good - in measure. If a character says "wee" you may assume that they did not mean to say "little." Dialect sentence structures, done carefully, are wonderful - they, too, represent what the character meant to say. But use standard spelling - the character, speaking, does not intend to spell oddly!

In the comparatively rare case where the character is writing in nonstandard English, I think you have to go with how they'd spell it. But be careful - there's an Inspector Morse mystery where somebody is busted through forging a note that Morse recognizes as based on incorrect stereotypes of how semiliterate people spell. Research this one!

Bufty
09-21-2015, 07:46 PM
Sean Connery is from Edinburgh. Don't try to be too clever. Edinburgh doesn't need anything beyond a reference that the character was born in, brought up in or has lived in- wherever it is. The reader will do the work for you.

Orianna2000
09-23-2015, 04:44 AM
A good example is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. She lives in Arizona, but she manages to write a very convincing Highland accent for the MC's husband and family. The accents she writes are just enough to impress their way of speaking upon you, without going all phonetic on you.

Katharine Tree
09-23-2015, 07:56 AM
A good example is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. She lives in Arizona, but she manages to write a very convincing Highland accent for the MC's husband and family. The accents she writes are just enough to impress their way of speaking upon you, without going all phonetic on you.

IMHO, she goes as thick on the Scottish phonetics as she can and still be trade published.

FWIW, her books inspired me to start writing my own. All of mine (so far) have featured Scottish heroes. I began by trying to write the couldna shouldna wouldna, realized that real modern Scots are as likely to say couldnae shouldnae wouldnae, tore my hair out over subtle differences in regions, registers, and code-shifting, then got disgusted with the whole thing and removed almost all phonetic Scots. I rely on sentence structure and vocabulary to indicate the Scottish accents.

They also feature a lot of characters with Old Timey Appalachian accents. I do a lot of phonetic stuff there (coulda shoulda woulda), and feel completely comfortable with it. No coincidence that that is my own hearth-dialect. However it looks to the reader, they can never, ever say it's inaccurate, overdone, or offensive.

onesecondglance
09-23-2015, 06:43 PM
The thing I'd note about the Munro and Welsh examples is that they are written in Scots as a language, as opposed to adopting phonetics to indicate accent. That is, those spellings and syntactical patterns are a different language altogether from standard English. The same would be true of a book written in AAVE or other varieties of English.

There's a delta between writing in a different form of English and peppering a standard-English MS with phonetic renderings.

Priene
09-23-2015, 07:16 PM
I'm going for Edinburgh-sounding. The character was born in Scotland.

Which part of Edinburgh? Morningside (eg The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) is another linguistic world from Leith (eg Trainspotting).

dolores haze
09-23-2015, 07:34 PM
Och, just go easy on yourself and opt for a Tayside accent. Taysiders in Spaaaaace (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLxLmFhROqY)

cmhbob
09-23-2015, 09:13 PM
Lots of good advice here for any accent writing.

jannert
04-07-2017, 10:03 AM
No, actually she doesn't. Her stuff is all over the place. No Gaelic-speaking highlander (especially in the 18th century) in his or her right mind says 'dinna fash' or 'ken' when they switch to English. Those are the sort of phrases somebody from the northeast (Aberdeenshire) or Fife or even the Borders would say. Whatever writing role model you use when writing how Scots speak, let it NOT be Diana Gabaldon.

I have lived in Scotland for the past 31 years, and I've heard what folks here think of her writing.

As everybody else here on this forum thread says, you MUST do your research. A makey-up "Scottish" accent just won't wash in today's world. One of the things to celebrate about Scotland is the diversity here. Go a few miles in any direction and the local accent changes a lot. There is no such thing as a "Scottish" accent, unless you're comparing it to the accent of some other country, ie "She spoke with a Scottish accent" as opposed to "She spoke with an English accent."

EMaree
04-07-2017, 12:22 PM
No, actually she doesn't. Her stuff is all over the place. No Gaelic-speaking highlander (especially in the 18th century) in his or her right mind says 'dinna fash' or 'ken' when they switch to English. Those are the sort of phrases somebody from the northeast (Aberdeenshire) or Fife or even the Borders would say. Whatever writing role model you use when writing how Scots speak, let it NOT be Diana Gabaldon.

I have lived in Scotland for the past 31 years, and I've heard what folks here think of her writing.

As everybody else here on this forum thread says, you MUST do your research. A makey-up "Scottish" accent just won't wash in today's world. One of the things to celebrate about Scotland is the diversity here. Go a few miles in any direction and the local accent changes a lot. There is no such thing as a "Scottish" accent, unless you're comparing it to the accent of some other country, ie "She spoke with a Scottish accent" as opposed to "She spoke with an English accent."

*waves* Hey, I'm a native Gaelic speaker from Inverness and I don't mind Gabaldon's writing.

It's not accurate, yeah -- you're spot on that we don't say dinnae fash up here, though we do occasionally say ken -- but she incorporates and promotes Gaelic, which is a damn sight more than I can say for a lot of writers.

Gaelic is really struggling. I'll forgive a lot of iffy dialect and stereotyped phrases if you include Gaidhlig and do a decent job of it.

My favourite example of writing a Scottish character is in Code Name Verity. It completely avoids dialect apart from a single moment, and it's done very powerfully.

Cath
04-07-2017, 02:25 PM
Appreciate your enthusiasm, jannert, but this thread is old and the story is likely long since written.