Re: RARA-AVIS: Scottish UK noir

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 02 Jul 2002

Joy wrote, re rendered dialect:
> Copyeditors discuss this sometimes. The consensus usually is the less of
> 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
> what Lord High Muckety-Muck says; the marginalized, the poor, the
> uneducated, the foreign, and various other outsiders get the treatment.
> an easy way for the author to signal disdain for the speaker.

My first and only crime short story came out in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 1980. It was set in a cowboy amusement park in Oklahoma, and I wrote it with dialect, but no more pervasive than the occasional "ya" (for
"you"), "ya'll" (for "you all"), a frequent omission of the "g" from "-ing" words, and some deliberately bad grammar to attempt capture of the vernacular of the people I wrote about. AHMM's copy editor fixed it all up so that it read less like Jesse James and more like Henry James. We are not amused.

Jim Beaver

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