She’s gone and MARRID my Mistah Kennedy!!
In the last while, I’ve read several “things I don’t like about books"---a concept which is totally beyond any thought I ever had on the subject (well except for a few which were a pure-D waste of tree, ink, and ANYBODY’s time).
One of the most-mentioned “hates”---yes, they mostly all said “hate,” was dialogue in dialect. And I do admit, some of it does get more than a bit boggy when attempts to interpret repeat accents or regional patterns of speech on the page just go ON AND ON.
But, mea culpa all over the place, I DO tend to write like I talk. Or other people I’ve known did and do. Well, golly-gosh amoddy I’m guilty, raise my hand and can’t promise to stop. A friend of mine says that if you KNOW better, you can traipse REALLY close to the grammar line, tossing out ain’ts and Shouldas and Y’alls with abandon, but only to folks what know you.
Maybe my trouble is that I just don’t wait for an introduction---I just sprinkle and splash all these old Southern terms and idiomata around at will, justa flyin’ along with my mind so far ahead of my fingers I just don’t KNOW what.
And I’ve had a life-long love affair with words, especially the convolutions and conflaptions of the South---but I wonder if all this I SWANEE and Pert Nigh and Like ta DIED sometimes come off as either ignorance or affectation when I get going and just don’t know which way to stop.
I wouldn’t want to read much of a conversation constructed merely of Mrs. Topper’s relating of Mr. Topper’s Last Will and Testament:
“He’s establishin’ a chayeh at Ole Miss for the Futheruntz of Liderrareh Studiz.”
But I’d certainly understand it, and be mighty inclined to think highly of Mr. T. for it, Bless his Heart.
But stories that go on and on spelling out ditten and watten and cain't every single time, and the pulled-out-of-a-very-unfashionable-hat anythin’---why anybody knows no self-respecting Southern Accent would include such a travesty. And if you’re going for the stress, it’s anyTHANG. Now, Somethin’ is perfectly acceptable, as is the slightly déclassé SUMPIN’ in a real case of drawl, but for Anythang, just leave that G alone. I’m talkin’ to YOU, movie dialogue coaches, who make perfectly good linguists sound like Gone With The Wind understudies.
Besides, all that repetition and getting-it-just-alike every time must be nerve-racking for the writer, and give them a headache, besides. I certainly couldn’t do it, and I talk that way.