Re: RARA-AVIS: Patricia Highsmith, was Vian and America

From: jacquesdebierue (
Date: 09 Dec 2008

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    --- In, Patrick King <abrasax93@...> wrote:

    > The idea that any writer might come up with a sentence in English
    "that would never be uttered by a native American." Seems like a broad stroke to me. I trust by "native American," you mean someone born or at least brought up somewhere in the United States, not specifically a so-called American Indian.<<

    Yes, I was referring to a competent speaker of American.

    >>The United States is a vast landscape. Here in New England
    colloquial expressions and dialects change from town to town, never mind state to state. These colloquial difference expand dramatically as you head south and west. I doubt even an American Henry Higgins could state credibly he knows all of them. Certainly there is a social group throughout the north east, from Baltimore to Boston, who affect an English intonation and whose speaking voices are referred to as
    "fog" by the more down-to-earth denizens of these cities.<<

    Yes, there are many dialects, but a writer rarely has true command of more than one. And the dialects make musical genre of sorts. As to sentences that would never be uttered within this musical genre, it would be easy to give examples from Highsmith's novels. I have them packed away, though, except for a former library copy of Strangers on a Train, where the issue does not arise.



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