1. S-wo
    Offline

    S-wo Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    Messages:
    337
    Likes Received:
    7

    Describing an accent and what's an em-dash?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by S-wo, Apr 23, 2009.

    I'm looking over my manuscript and noticed I left a sentecne like this

    "I like it very much," she said with an accent.

    I realized that I need to be more specific like that since there are dozens of accents, but since I'm writing a fantasy novel and can't really use any real world geographci terms to describe it since it's on a different planet, I'm a little confused as to what to use.

    I was thinking I could use ambient to describe a carribean accent. Is that acceptable or can it not be used in that context?


    Edit: Also what's an em dash?
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    You could describe the accent as a brogue, or a lilt, ar some other more descriptive word. The listener could place the accent (Her voice held the airy lilt of a herder from the northern steppes).But avoid phoneticizing accents. It bogs down the reader and quickly becomes tedious.

    An em-dash is a horizontal dash approximately te samewidth as the letter 'M'. It is often used to set off a parenthetical remark within speech. In manuscript. it can be signified by two adjacent hyphens.
     
  3. lynneandlynn
    Offline

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    746
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    I agree with Cog. "With an accent," just won't work...but using 'lilt' or 'brogue' is always a good idea.

    And em-dashes are fun--just way over-used.

    (See...there's an example of an em-dash for you! :-D)

    ~Lynn
     
  4. S-wo
    Offline

    S-wo Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    Messages:
    337
    Likes Received:
    7
    Thanks for the help gito
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    for the accent, you don't have to be that specific... can describe it in any of the following more general ways:

    she said, with an odd accent [need a comma there!]
    she said, with a charming accent
    she said, with sweet little, lisping accent
    she said, with a strange, undefineable accent
    she said, with a quirky, off-world accent

    and so on...

    when you need to know about punctuation, or anything else on the technical side of writing, it's good to check things out here first:

    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_overvw.html
    http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/e.html
    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index2.htm

    it'll save you [and the members here] a lot of time and typing...

    hugs, m
     
  6. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    In my sci-fi book Agija of Agukas, I try to describe important accents.

    “Your names, please,” the Trin said in a deep voice and as if it spoke underwater.

    the cabby said, in an alien accent. It reminded Clay of how people talked in London, but without the high pitches.

    Clay is from earth, so he can relate it to other accents.
     
  7. Dalouise
    Offline

    Dalouise Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    822
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Ireland
    I've never heard of an em-dash either, I think I'll stick to the regular one. It's served me well enough for fifty years...
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    so, what do you call a 'regular' one?... if you're using the hyphen for a dash, it won't go over well with agents or editors... and, if you're using something longer than a hyphen, then guess what?... you're using an 'em dash'!
     
  9. Atari
    Offline

    Atari Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2009
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Louisiana
    The problem I find with THIS is -- how can you say something as if it were underwater?
    My mind cannot even form an idea of what that must sound like.
     
  10. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    Atari, later I describe it as a bubbly voice. I assume, like me, most people have tried to talk underwater and knows what that sounds like. If you haven't tried that yet, do so the next time you are swimming.

    It is funny when you try to have a conversation with someone else underwater. You have to scream and be close together.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    arch... 'burbly' might be more apt than 'bubbly' for that...
     
  12. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    Burbly. I love that, so I'm going to use it. :)
     
  13. WrongWriter
    Offline

    WrongWriter Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern California (figures, huh?)
    Another slant. You don't have to describe the accent at all.

    You could, for instance say, "I like it very much," she said in a Eurotrash accent so thick I could barely understand her.

    , she said in some accent that sounded like she might have been raised by camels.


    her accent was almost impenetrable, but damed sexy.

    Etc
     
  14. Jeredin
    Offline

    Jeredin Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2009
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    AZ
    Soooo, em-dash:

    "She was gorgeous -- and very tall by the way -- so frank of course asked her out the first chance he got."

    and/or

    She was gorgeous -- which made her jealous -- so of course frank asked her out the first chance he got.

    Did I use the em-dash right there? And again, using it is for the sake of my MS? Because one hyphen looks good to me.
     
  15. WrongWriter
    Offline

    WrongWriter Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern California (figures, huh?)
    I would say thse s call for commas, especially the second.
    Using stronger separation like dashes or parentheses is generally done when the phrase jumps out of the sentence:an aside, an explanation, a periferal thought. Without the "by the way" the first would also be a candidate for commas.

    She was gorgeous--and it wasn't like dropdead gorgeous bimbos were all that common in the Backwash--so of course Frank asked her out.
     
  16. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    you used them correctly, as in placement, but there should be no space before or after them... and a single hyphen would definitely NOT be correct...
     
  17. Jeredin
    Offline

    Jeredin Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2009
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    AZ
    Last question for em-dashes!

    For the sake of sending a manuscript, would "—" be comparative to "--"?

    From what I've seen, — is the length of an M, so it can qualify as an em-dash. However, if it would not be prudent to chance it, I won't.

    I simply like the way — looks over -- :rolleyes:
     
  18. WrongWriter
    Offline

    WrongWriter Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern California (figures, huh?)
    They're basically the same thing. Many word processors (Word, for example) automatically convert a double hyphen (actually a "dash" when used like that") to the "em dash" by default.
     
  19. Jeredin
    Offline

    Jeredin Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2009
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    AZ
    You actually hit the core of my concern. I use MSW and it auto-changes "--" and "-" into "—". I assume most agents/editors won't mind? :confused:
     
  20. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    An em dash is an em dash, regardless of whether you proveide a proper Unicode (or whatever encoding your file uses) em dash or its typographic eqivalent --. The latter form exists because the standard typewriter does not possess an em dash key.

    The seven bit ASCII character set also does not contain an em dash, so it your writing uses that older encoding, you would still have to use --.
     
  21. WrongWriter
    Offline

    WrongWriter Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern California (figures, huh?)
    You can disable the (to me obnoxious) Word shift to single dash ("em dash" is a printer's term, actually)

    Tools, Autocorrect Options, Autoformat tab, uncheck "Replace hyphens with dash"

    You can actually turn off some of the annoying features of Word. Unfortunately, not all of them.
     
  22. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    one equals the other... and many [if not most] agents/publishers/editors still prefer you indicate the em dash in a ms by typing a double hyphen, since in some fonts, a real em dash is hard to tell from a hyphen... no one will mind you using the -- and some may mind you using the actual dash, so why not take the safest path?
     
  23. Jeredin
    Offline

    Jeredin Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2009
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    AZ
    Thanks, that's what I needed to hear. I personally think a "long" hyphen looks better, but that's not going to help me get published when it matters how they'd like to read my content. I'd much rather take the safer road in this instance.

    So, thanks again. :rolleyes:
     
  24. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Whichever one you have in your manuscript document, it is easy to perform a global search and replace in either direction. If you do convert to '--', it will be easier to see if you have inadvertently left some single hyphens where you intended to put em dashes.
     

Share This Page