RE: RARA-AVIS: Scottish UK noir

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 17 Jun 2002

colin said: One gripe I had, and something that might be worth discussion was the phoenetic spelling of dialect/heavily accented speech In Christopher Brookmyre's, otherwise excellent story. I found it really interrupted the flow. At what stage is it necessary/acceptable to render speech like this? Is it not enough to tell us that the characters have strong Scottish accents?


i've wondered the same thing, colin. i don't know the answer. i know for sure that mark twain's _tom sawyer_ and _huckleberry finn_ would not be the same without the phonetic rendering of the dialect.

one of the things i've noticed is that in a book written this way, it becomes progressively easier to read it as you get used to it. in a story, i imagine you don't ever have the time to become accustomed to it. interrupting the flow of the text must be considered a serious trade- off by a writer looking for dialectic realism.

i once read a book written entirely phonetically, iain banks's _feersum endjinn_. the first 20 pages or so were difficult. the scary part was that by the end i was so adjusted to it that i didn't even notice the phonetic spelling.

and what about multi-language conversations? should the non-english be translated? there's a hemingway short story with almost all the dialogue in french. that's ridiculous. there were spanish dialogue parts of _blood meridian_ that went by me. i loved the book, but i'm not gonna be a translator.

aside: i guess i got rabe's _the box_ coming! it cost me more than i wanted to pay, but i shopped around for cheap and ended up winning the bid on the one that bill crider noted. thanks, bill!


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