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  1. Reflections
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    Reflections New Member

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    How Does One show an Estuary English accent?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Reflections, Apr 5, 2009.

    The title is somewhat self-explanatory, but how would one show an Estuary accent, without saying that the character spoke in such an accent? What slang would be used, what vowel or consonant sounds would be altered or omitted, et cetera? I tried looking this up in Wikipedia, but I did not understand many of the phrases used (or how to convert said phrases into dialogue). My apologies if this thread is misplaced.
    On a side note, how would one portray a Received Pronunciation accent?
    Thank you for any help you can give.
     
  2. bonavada
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    bonavada Member

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    I'm assuming you mean the "posh" accent that used to be the trademark of the BBC for newscasters announcers etc? Angela Rippon used to be a perfect example of this if I'm right. I say "used to be" because now you find a plethora of regional accents splashed all over the beeb.

    Perhaps you could highlight the Estuary accent through another character?

    BV
     
  3. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    No! No! OMG, it's NOT 'posh' English!

    'Estury' accent is the--what shall I say?--'dumbed down'? sloppy? de-poshed? version of accents spoken in the south of England. In other words, it's the English spoken in the London area (hence the word estury=Thames estury), spreading out around the southern counties. It's spoken by people from the lower-middle class right on upwards to one of the Queen's grandchildren. My brother de-poshed his accent as he was made fun of as a teenager when he went to a state school to re-sit his A level exams, and he now speaks estury.

    'Estury English' is NOT what used to be known as BBC English--that is RP, or 'received pronunciation', but that's a bit old-fashioned now. In fact if you turn on the BBC nowadays, you'll be more likely to hear Estury English than RP, plus many other regional accents.

    Estury English is characterised by having very lightly/unpronounced 't's and 'r's, e.g.
    You'd be'a tuwn off th'compu'a now.
     
  4. bonavada
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    bonavada Member

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    Oooooops. Got a little mixed up.

    Sorry.

    BV
     
  5. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    I think it would be best to say that the accent is "estuary" or that you describe the "rough sharpness" of it. (note: it probably isn't rough and sharp but u see my point). Thing is you can't really show an accent through dialogue. Well you might be able to but it would be very tedious and confusing for possibly yourself but most of all the reader.
     
  6. *Sticks*
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    *Sticks* Member

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    "th'compu'a"

    I'd write normally then 'comment' on the pronunciation.

    eg.

    "The computer"

    To Jim, it sounded like the man was saying "th'compu'a"

    or

    "The computer"

    The man had a strong london accent, and it sounded like "th'compu'a"

    or something...
     
  7. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    the problem with accents i've found is that a 'hollywood' accent is different from a true life accent. too many shows with actors portraying foreigner accents when they aren't. it would be best maybe to listen to how they say it via news or interviews of that locale. I used to think i could do a good british accent until i talked to a few friends from the U.K. ....when they were done laughing, they sorted me out right proper like.
     
  8. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    If you really want to embrace some form of accent in a character, I'd just do a lot of research on the pronunciation of it. I personally wouldn't do what Sticks suggested, simply because it creates unnecessary wordiness (just an opinion there, no offense intended). Research is your best friend :) Put it to good use here.

    Just my thoughts

    ~Lynn
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sounds like you're referring to the way michael caine/maurice micklewhite speaks... that said, writing accents phonetically is next to never recommended, as it's tiresome to read and not everyone will read it the way you intended it to be 'heard'...

    most successful novelists will simply establish in narrative, or another character's dialog, that the one with the accent speaks with this or that accent and then just use the appropriate syntax, to distinguish his speech patterns from the other characters'...

    so i'd suggest you study up on the syntax [sentence structure] and idioms of the various accents/dialects and use that, instead of odd spellings...
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Michael Caine = Old-style London Cockney (most actors on Eastenders BBC series ditto)
    Noel Edmunds, Zara Phillips, most BBC TV chefs, (on her street-cred-not-a-Jane-Austin-day) Kiera Knightly, (most of the time, although she originally had a Scottish accent) Emma Thompson = Estury English
    David Attenborough, Helen Mirren = RP
     
  11. Dalouise
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    Dalouise Contributing Member

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    Watch episodes of "Only Fools and Horses" or the soap "Eastenders". It's not just accent, it's choice of words as well.
     
  12. *Sticks*
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    *Sticks* Member

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    I personally wouldn't do what Sticks suggested, simply because it creates unnecessary wordiness (just an opinion there, no offense intended).

    None taken :)

    Personally, I'd rather read one or two extra sentences than have to decipher what the charcater is saying, which, imo, a non-native speaker will always have to do, no matter how well you write the dialogue.
    For example, I'm Scottish, but if I read something written in a local dialect, I only know how it's really propnounced because I say it regularly, not because of how it's written.
    Does that make sense?
     
  13. pacmansays
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    pacmansays Senior Member

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    LOL i've had to study this accent, it's the most spoken accent in England now and spreading, it's really a blend between RP (posh, BBC newscaster English) and Cockney....Some features of it are...

    The Glottal stop....Replacing consonants in the middle of words i.e. Ga'wick airport rather than Gatwick Airport or Wa'er instead of water

    Altered Negatives...Use of never to refer to a single occasion i.e.
    "You said I could borrow it"
    "I never did"
    Or
    "He did not" being replaced by "He never did"

    Tag questions...Little questions added onto the end of sentences, in Estuary English this is used in a confrontational manner i.e. "I said I was going, didn't I?" or "We're going later, aren't we?"

    Dropping 'ly'...Off the end of adverbs i.e. "Don't turn too slow"

    Hopefully that will help when writing in a character voice, here's a few examples to help also...Note: In the above examples, the glottal stop was a feature of pronunciation and so isn't necessary in written text, the other 3 were part of Estuary grammar and so should be used when writing in their voice.

    Example 1: David Tennant's Doctor Who (Writers' and the actor chose this accent in particular) use of "eh?" at the end of sentences and pronunciation "Doctah" I noticed among many things, occasional dropping of 'h's such as 'arry or 'ate instead of harry or hate. Also I told ya instead of I told you.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBbEd5pjiDM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2q__8W4JqM&feature=related

    Another textbook example (and I mean literally he is in the academic textbooks and essays) is Jonathan Ross and finding videos of him isn't hard

    (also note H dropping is uncommon is estuary english but can happen occasionally, the same with double negatives; rare, but not unheard of)
     
  14. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    Use the sort of gramatical idiosyncrasies suggested by pacmansays ("I never did", etc.) and just state the region if you feel it needs emphasising. Do not try to write in accent - it's hard work to decipher.
     
  15. theheresy
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    so estuary is what the monty python guys talk like?
     
  16. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    NO. They talked RP and put on a kind on Cockney sometimes. Estury English is a more recent aberration.
     
  17. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I disagree with that. I've read plenty of books where the MC speaks with an Irish brogue and I'm not Irish... and I've never had trouble understanding what they were saying. I think it just has to be done *well* in order for it to come across clearly.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Trying to phonetically reproduce an accent is nearly always a bad idea. However, reproducing the dialect and word choices can give the impression of the accent without bogging the reader down.

    There ARE some phoneticized words that have been used often enough that they act like "real words", so the reader can grasp them without stumbling - nearly everyone who sees vurra will read it as a heavily brogued very without hesitating to sound it out. But if you overdo the phonetics, you will only irritate the reader.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    wise words from cog, as usual... i'll ditto that, in toto! [also, 'as usual'... usually ;-) ]
     
  20. Gilgamesh
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    Gilgamesh Member

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    Pacmansays got it spot on; Estuary English is basically a cross between BBC English (Received Pronunciation) and the cockney dialect; I pretty much speak with the accent myself since I come from a Cockney/Estuary area in Essex very close to the Thames estuary itself, though I am always trying to aim for a more well-spoken accent; I still often drop my Ts in words like 'water' though, it's a hard habit to break. Another attribute of the accent is yod-dropping, which means dropping the Y-sound in words like 'suit' or 'tuesday' so they become 'sooht' and 'toosday' (or even 'chooseday'). Also we have a bad habit of exchanging 'tr' for a 'ch' sound so that a word like 'train' sounds more like 'chain'. A word like 'dune' can also end up sounding like 'june' because of the way we alter the y-sound in certain words. It's really very similar to the Cockney dialect, just not as extreme. Not sure I agree with the person who said Keira Knightly uses it; she sounds more like she speaks in Received Pronunciation to me. But obviously, the line between one accent and another can be very blurred, so sometimes there's no definite answer.
    Anyway, I'm kind of digressing here; like others have suggested, it's probably a bad idea to spell out a character's dialect exactly how it phonetically sounds. I would just mention that the character sounds like they have a very slight Cockney accent. This would be better than saying they have an Estuary accent, since many people probably won't know what that is. However, some writers disagree with this and say you should write dialects phonetically. Charles Dickens did it a lot with his Cockney characters, for example. It's really up to you though.

    Jim
     
  21. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    There's this one book I read where he did a black guy's accent, which was basically poor English,

    "Yo, dawg. Dat be crazy!"
    Actually, it was set in an earlier time period and therefore, the vernacular was a bit different. (He didn't use the word 'dog' in the comradeship sense.)

    It was one of the most enjoyable scenes. I had to 'decipher' a couple words, but it was truly fun.

    I always agree with phonetically writing a person's accent. It really adds character if you don't lay it on thick. (But it could be used in a comedic fashion if made very thick, so consider)
     

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