Re: RARA-AVIS: Scottish UK noir

From: Joy Matkowski (
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? Al will know more, I am sure, but where does the line between accented English and Scots' dialect come? I'm not sure if that is really the right question even, but if anyone has any views I would be interested to here.
 "Or if I rendered my speech as it sounds.
 "'Any 'un gort any vews, I 'ud be innerested to yere.' (Forest of Dean)."

Copyeditors discuss this sometimes. The consensus usually is the less of it, the better because (1) it's hard on the reader and (2) it tends to have a demeaning effect on the speaker. Writers mostly don't phonetically spell out what Lord High Muckety-Muck says; the marginalized, the poor, the uneducated, the foreign, and various other outsiders get the treatment. It's an easy way for the author to signal disdain for the speaker.
    In your example, Colin, how is "vews" pronounced? When I sound it out, it sounds just like my "views." Of course, I have a funny accent, too.


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