Sunday, July 16, 2006
Q & A 73 Dialects
I understand that when writing a novel about a specific region of the world, it's irritating to others to read it in the dialect of that particular area. When writing about a specific region set centuries ago, however, I'm unsure how best to present it. I get the feeling that writing about 18th century London in a modern tone would have the same anachronistic effect as going to a Renaissance festival and seeing one of the peasants wearing a watch. On the other hand, I don't want to resort to using the language of that time and confusing a modern audience.What's a good way to approach this to still give the feel of the time period? Write with a modern style but still throw in words and phrases of the time? Any advice would be appreciated.
Sure 'n' win th' tale's tole in th' speakery 'o th' times, 'twill be a bit noyin t'read but leastways then y' get ta make up words like neeps 'n' balmagowry and hole sentences kin be gibberified like sentuff slimber hie th' winferr'd benks ta Zinedine Zidane .
Or, to put it another way, unless you want to try a gadget like a modern person finding a journal and translating it, or a time traveler going back and observing, you might read a few books set in your time period, and written near that time, and see if they hold up. A Tale of Two Cities takes place in the 18th century, so see if you find it difficult to understand. If so, modernize a bit. If not, your only concern is getting rid of the cars and televisions.
Of course if the only book you can find written in your time period is The Canterbury Tales, I don't recommend adopting the style.