1. Lemontine13
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    Lemontine13 New Member

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    Accents in a Fantasy setting?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Lemontine13, Aug 2, 2012.

    I'm setting my new novel in a fantasy world which is not unlike our own; It has towns and cities, roads, cars, shops, restaurants, etc. - basically all our infrastructure. The thing that's different in this world has magic, and most of the machinery is powered by it.

    That's a brief description of it, but the question I would like to ask is can you, or how can you implement a regional dialect in a fictional kingdom?

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    The Kingdom of "Erdwaerde" the fictional country where I set it could be likened to England. This is all fine, but I would like one of my characters to have a regional dialect. I would like her to have a Geordie accent (one specific to the city of Newcastle) but because my story is set in a fictional kingdom in which Newcastle doesn't exist, how can I portray this? If not with this particular accent, is it possible with any?

    In short, how do you describe an accent without mentioning a place?
  2. Holo
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    Holo Member

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    You can always just set the story in an alternative reality version of England. Everything about languages and culture is the same, but we have magic. So only some historical elements are impacted. But if you really want to do a fictional world entirely, you don't necessarily have to make up your own accents and languages. They can still have british accents.
    For an exercise, I would suggest you listen to different dialects and pick some you like and try to describe them. Then you will have an accent for your country.
  3. Lemontine13
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    Lemontine13 New Member

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    this is the paragraph I came up with:

    ‘Reet, what’s crackin’?’ she asked. She had a strong Ford accent; “reet” was a local word for “right”, and “cracking” was pronounced something like “craken”, which was also a popular word choice amongst the locals. The dialect was interesting enough to observe and study, but I didn’t tend to associate with people with a regional accent because it was generally a sign of inferior education.

    I tried before to do what you described, but I'm not sure it works very well - any suggestions? :(
  4. introspect
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    introspect New Member

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    hey

    Its a tough question this. I've been racking my brain over this.

    perhaps, you should just divide their accents -southern and northern accent. one accent with a refined sound and slow pitch speech and the other rough and fast.

    I come from Liverpool. So, i guess I must be one of those inferior uneducated types lol

    Although, I dont write how I speak. If i did, you'd have a hard time understanding me :D
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Avoid writing accents. Write dialect instead. Accents become very tedious very quickly.

    What's the difference?

    Thees eez a hawibble attempt ta rendah an accsent.

    Mack stopped by a pizza shop on the way home to grab a grinder and a tonic. (Massachusetts dialect for a hot sandwich and a carbonated soft drink).
  6. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Member

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    Cog is dead on here.

    I wrote a fanfic with a french accent - and the single most consistent critique I received, was the accent.

    However, I also wrote a story with strong dialect, and it too received quite a few critiques because it was hard to muddle through what the Irish character was saying. Personally, I loved it "But oh me darlin' the voice o' that black angel called death sings me t' sleep ev'ry night, and not just me. I suspect 'tis the same reason. . . ." (He was even purposefully pushing his accent to tick off some Englishmen).

    Nevertheless, it made it so that some people really didn't want to read it. So be careful on both dialect and accents.

    I do think, however, that once in a while you can slip in a dialect spelling at a very important point. JKR does it well with Fleur Delacour's accent. You can also have them exclaim something either in their accent or more extreme dialect (or even foreign words if English is a second language when they get excited - or when something dramatic happens.

    "Geoff, I really don't think it's a good idea too--"

    He didn't hear her, and stepped on the board, which broke, sending him plunging through to the basement.

    "Mon Dieu! Geoff! Can you 'ear me? Zhis is not good!"

    However, switch right back to reg. English after this for a while.

    At least, that's how I've settled to writing it. I wonder what others think about it.
  7. captain kate
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    captain kate Member

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    Cog's right too. The best way to portray accent is in small ways.

    "The most important thing in a story is how you write it," She said with a drawling southern accent.

    Done. Now the reader will associate that with a character and you don't have to say it all the time, or write it.
  8. Lemontine13
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    Lemontine13 New Member

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    After following the advice I received on here (which was very useful btw, thanks guys :) ) I revised my paragraph to this:

    ‘Reet, what’s crackin’?’ she asked. She spoke with the hard, fragmented northern accent so typical to many residents of Ford. As a general rule, a regional accent was a sign of being uneducated, so I chose not to associate with those who had one.

    Any thoughts?
  9. captain kate
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    captain kate Member

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    That's it, Lemon! Sounds much better and gets your point across. :)
  10. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Member

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    I think it sounds pretty good.

    "Crackin'" is still an accent, since it's left off the "g". However, it works as it's short, sweet, and to the point. I do have one question however, everyone has a regional accent, so how can someone not have one? Is she saying that she has just tried to tone it down, or to adopt what's considered a "snobby" dialect - or one from a more appreciated area? Just wondering.
  11. Lemontine13
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    Lemontine13 New Member

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    @E C Scrubb:
    Thanks for the feedback :)
    I'll take that into consideration although in my experience you can have a nondescript general accent not specific to any area: I would consider myself to have a general English accent, not one of the regional accents from within England
  12. psychotick
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    psychotick Member

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    Hi,

    I agree, try to write as little accented dialogue as possible, though a few pieces here and there for flavour are probably alright. Mostly though you want to describe the accent. One thing Harry Harrison often does is write a line of dialogue in normal English, then picks out a single word of it and describes the accent she used.

    e.g. "Can I help you?" She pronounced the 'can' as 'kin', a common mistake made by the locals of Alderbran Four.

    Or something similar.

    Cheers, Greg.
  13. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Member

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    If you're simply writing a novel I find it hard to express accents of different characters. Dialects are somewhat easier as they also depend on vocabulary. The only thing I've done so far as to give a hint as to how the characters pronounce words, other than mentioning what their accents are called / where they are from, is writing the dialogue of a couple of characters without the "t" in words like "can't" and "won't"; because they don't (or don') pronounce them. As for dialects I have somewhat divided my two most important characters into having their own "groups of words"; one usually uses "only" and the other "just" and one always uses the "-body" suffix while the other uses "-one" etc., but this isn't really dialect territory even, it's sociolects at the very most in this specific case.

    As for deciding/specifying/making your own accents for your characters you can go a multitude of ways.
    1. You could rearrange the locations of the people who speak each accent (like putting Canadian and Scottish-sounding accent right next to each other geographically and make Australian and Northern English-like accents be located south of Southern English or African accents etc.
    2. You can "mix and trixx", taking aspects from various accents and combine them in new ways
    3. You can invent your own accents. Maybe some characters don't even pronounce the letter M? Maybe the J-sound gets rendered as an H-sound?

    It's one thing for the characters to have accents. It's something different entirely to write those accents. We have a (somewhat) standardised (or standardized) writing system for a reason: let's all just use it, shall we?
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