1. Michael Thompson
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    Michael Thompson Member

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    Alien speach

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Michael Thompson, Nov 28, 2015.

    The villains in my story are large reptilian creatures. Nine foot tall, some with wings, some with spikes or horns.

    They do not have much dialogue in my story, just a few bits here and there...

    But for the dialogue they do have would it be hard on the reader if I stretched certain letters?

    For example:

    “Generrral, rrreconnaisssance confirrrmsss thessse arrre the rrremaining Atlansss,” grunts his aid.

    “Prrreparrre my yacht, I will inssspect the fleet perrrsssonally,” orders Dokrerk.

    I was planning on just extending "R's" and "S's"... Or is that too much?
     
  2. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) If you're going to stretch letters, 2 at a time is a lot easier to read than 3:

    2) Messing with the grammar itself would make the dialogue seem more alien than just messing with the spelling

    In my sci-fi WIP, the alien's internal monologue takes the form of Verb-Subject-Object ("Did he this") as opposed to the most common human syntaxes of Subject-Object-Verb ("He this did") or Subject-Verb-Object ("He did this")
     
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  3. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't mind the stretched letters, and don't find that they make the dialogue hard to read. However, I think it doesn't look that sophisticated in its original form. Double letters only make it look better, and even easier to read. You might want to choose which letters to double, and keep a consistent style. E.g. only 'rr' and 'ss' on the ends of words, and then keep it consistent. A small amount of alien speech seasoning can go a long way, in my opinion. Consistency makes it look more sophisticated to me.

    @Simpson17866 has a good example of this with the grammatical style s/he has used.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If you are to do this, the above suggestion is a useful one. In human speech, consonant mutations in pronunciation are mitigated by surrounding phonemes and positioning in the word. In certain Australian dialects, the changing of /t/ for /d/ only occurs mid-word, as in the numeral fourteen, which gets pronounced as fordeen. In other positions, the /t/ is pronounced faithfully. In Russian words, typically voiced consonants go invoiced when they are terminal, but get voiced when the next word begins with an appropriate vowel. In American English, the glottal stop of kitten, (ki'in) only occurs mid-word and only in some words and only for some speakers.
     
  5. Michael Thompson
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    Michael Thompson Member

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    Thank you all for the suggestions... I think I'll go with double letters... Sticking with R and S...
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are the aliens speaking English? If not, then this wouldn't make sense to me.
     
  7. Michael Thompson
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    Michael Thompson Member

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    Well, for the story, I think it needs to be in English...
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, but a phonetic reproduction of speech usually assumes that the actual sounds of the speech are being made. For example, if you had a French character speaking English, you might do the stereotypical English-with-a- French-accent:

    "Please pass ze salt and ze peppair."

    But if he's speaking in French, you wouldn't do that, even if you translate the French. It would be

    "Please pass the salt and the pepper."

    Adding, for example, the "z" would make no sense, because the actual syllable wouldn't be "the" but instead "le" or "la".

    In addition, a phonetic reproduction of an accent usually indicates the ways that the accent diverges from some standard. But these aliens are native speakers of their language.
     
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  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I vote for no modifications to standard spellings. Our writing isn't phonetic when we write our own accents, so why would we make it phonetic when we write someone else's?

    I'd suggest just describing the way they speak when they first start talking, and then trusting your reader to remember.
     
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  10. Michael Thompson
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    Michael Thompson Member

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    So maybe the dialogue between my reptilian aliens is written as standard English, perhaps leaving out some words (I, my, we...)?

    There is no planned dialogue between the aliens and humans, so the language barrier will not be a problem.
     

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