Wednesday, March 16, 2016


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.

Nuff said, I think.  Anybody else get turned off by a writer’s repetitious attempts to convey any kind of accent phonetically?

ps  I have never once in this life ever called cornbread corn PONE, at least not in its presence.


Susie said...

LOL.. My folks (parents) were from the south..they did use strange sayings. A friend of mine heard her husband's family using a certain name for a family member. She pronounced the name the same as she heard it. She finds out years later, actually while reading the lady's obituary, that her name was Millie....she had been saying Miley for over ten years. :):) Blessings, xoxo,Susie

donna baker said...

We live in a rural area where they say ain't and use the wrong tense, like we seen... I tried to teach the young ones that ain't isn't a word and people will think you are a hillbilly etc. But, I'd never be rude enough to correct someone other than my family.That being said, I never enjoyed reading Mark Twain and all the vernacular. It makes me think of taking the family and son-in-law on a trip to Martha's Vineyard via Boston. Son in law said do you think they'll know we're from OK with our accent? I told him yes and sure enough a shopkeeper asked if we were from AL or GA. But your blog is a treat Rachel. I'm not complaining.

Rita C. said...

I am from West Virginia (yes, a state separate from Virginia since 1863, and everybody else thinks WE'RE the ignorant ones). Lort, you know....hillbillies, bare feet, no teeth, and lots of ain'ts and cain'ts....
I remember when I was dancing with our state's ballet, and performing a comedy spoof of a classical piece was discussed as a possibility. Our director said in order to pull it off, there would have to be excellence and mastery of the piece first. I believe the same is true with dialogue in dialect. You do it very well. I can tell you're a woman of words. Carry on. :)

Jeanne said...

Good mornin Rachael, I love your way of writing in the most charming Southern words. Please...never change. this post had me laughing when reading the 'extreme' use of Southern words as they are spoken in the South. BTW 'Gone With the Wind' is my favorite movie of all time and I have to say, so is the book!!! I admit to being born a 'Yankee' but thank goodness I was raised in the South. Big smile here. Your posts are always a treat for these eyes and I love what and how you write.

Much love,

bj said...

I swear, need to write a would be a best seller, for sure.

bj said...

oops, meant to add...
corn PONE is like HOT WATER CORN eggs, milk & so on....I grew up on Hot Water Cornbread aka Corn Pone and, to this day, when I make it, my family comes from far and wide to have it with blackeyed peas, fresh tomatoes and onion....oh, and
Southern Sweet tea...xoxo

Kim S. said...

Yes, MA'AM!!!! I couldn't agree more with EVERYTHING! Dialect is like cayenne - use it sparingly for effect. But don't load it up lest I think you are a fake. Dropping the wrong 'g' and using y'all for singular is the sure sign of a Yankee writer!