Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Now then, me sprigadees

Regular readers will know how much I love a new word, and it's been a big toss-up this week as to which one I shall adopt. It so could have been "pornaoke", but I cry laughing every time I think of that word, and that's no way to get a blogpost written! So, this week's new word is "sprigadee", a term of endearment from Jamaican English, according to Andrea Levy's novel, Small Island.

The article that I've linked to below explores the dialogue used by Levy, and considers interesting issues about how writers represent dialect speech in fiction. It's a thorny question. Do you represent it fully, in its "purest" form, or do you present just an impression of dialect? The problem with the former is that it can be inpenetrable to readers from outside that region; the problem with the latter is that it loses in authenticity.

Lots of contemporary writers use representations of dialect speech to explore issues of identity in the modern world - look at the links to writers below - but it was also a really popular technique in 19th century novels. The article mentions Emily Bronte and Thomas Hardy, and Charles Dickens represents features of London speech in many of his novels. This all tied in with a real interest that emerged in the late 18th and 19th centuries in non-Standard varieties of English, as a political reaction to forces in our culture that were working to standardise all sorts of areas of human existence. Given the rapid Americanisation of so many areas of our contemporary culture, should we not all be taking the same kind of interest today? Read and see....

Mind Your Language

Excerpt from Foxy T - a novel in Banglish

Excerpt from How late it was, how late - a novel in Glaswegian


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