Vernacular writing

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Vernacular writing

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1deargreenplace
Nov 17, 2006, 8:33 am

At the moment, I'm reading Buddha Da by Anne Donovan, which is written in phonetic Glaswegian, and mainly in first-person voices. It was hard-going at first, though I'm in the swing of it now, but it got me wondering whether I'm alone in despising seeing words like "yous" (instead of "you"), "I seen" instead of "I saw" and "they" (when "those" is correct) committed to print.

As someone who was brought up with "I do, I did, I have done" ringing in my ears until it was imprinted forever, I find it hard to deal with such travesties of the English language when I'm reading.

Of course, I'm sure it can be argued that Donovan is simply trying to give her characters (a working-class family from Maryhill) an authentic voice, and perhaps using the language to emphasise their distance from the usual perception of Buddhists and mark them as "other" and I've certainly read other authors like James Kelman and Irvine Welsh who use this type of language, but I'm finding myself eager to finish the book so that I can move on to one that's written in "proper" English.

Is this crazy? Should I be ashamed to call myself Scottish?

2lriley
Nov 17, 2006, 12:58 pm

Actually no reason to feel ashamed but I really liked 'How late it was, how late' by Kelman. Great book and loved the accents.

3Jargoneer
Nov 17, 2006, 4:08 pm

You should only be ashamed to call yourself Scottish if you support England at any sport. ;-D

Since Trainspotting there has been a whole wave of Scottish writers writing about the "working-class" in the vernacular. My heart sinks when I hear about another new work like this, it has become a stale genre, a gross parody of modern Scottish life. (There are exceptions - McIlvanney & Kelman have much more to offer).

The question is whether writing in dialect adds something to a novel, or is it just a gimmick? Sadly, for a lot of recent Scottish novels, it is a way of masking the emptiness of the work.

4lriley
Nov 17, 2006, 5:40 pm

I haven't heard of McIlvanney Jargoneer. I take it he's some kind of crime fiction writer. Another Lt'er and I have been talking about Kelman lately. A great writer to me. I think I've already said that but more people should take a look.

5Jargoneer
Nov 17, 2006, 6:21 pm

William McIlvanney has written crime fiction - Laidlaw and The Papers of Tony Veitch, which are seen to have launched the 'tartan noir' school - but he his reputation rests on novels like Docherty and The Big Man, which explore the Scottish working class (male) psyche. He is different to a lot of the authors that followed due to having a literary style rather than being in vernacular. (He is also a respected journalist in Scotland, his brother is probably the UK's leading sports journalist).

Kelman is under-rated in Scotland as well, he is critically lauded but he doesn't have the wide readership that he deserves. When he won the Booker Prize with How Late It Was, How Late there was an outcry in the UK media, with many commentators saying it was a disgrace that work written in such a style and with such language had won.

6deargreenplace
Nov 20, 2006, 7:55 am

LT ate my post :( They're never quite as good the second time.

7deargreenplace
Editado: Nov 20, 2006, 10:10 am

My only experience of Kelman was several years ago when I tried to read The busconductor Hines and had to give up on it. Perhaps I should approach him from another angle and try How Late It Was, How Late instead.

8deargreenplace
Editado: Nov 21, 2006, 10:02 am

Okay, I think I've got my train of thought back.

What I had said yesterday (probably far more eloquently but you'll never know now) was that reading this book is flamin' hard work - and that's for someone who hears this type of language spoken every day. Now a PhD student has appeared as a character in the book - he doesn't speak properly either. Interestingly though, the character from Edinburgh does. Please draw your own conclusions from that (I should never have done so much textual analysis at Uni - it's warped my mind).

Why do all of the author's Glaswegians need to speak this way? There is more than one way to express a person's identity, and it really irks me that language is allowed to take over the whole book. Other authors can write from a Scottish perspective without suffocating us with appalling dialect. And I don't actually mind the accent coming through - it's the words like "wanst" and "yous've" that are just downright offensive to me.

9vicarofdibley
Nov 26, 2006, 1:45 pm

heaven help anyone who finds something in the doric i was brone and bed and still live up here in Aberdeen and still can't understand it

10kicking_k
Jan 5, 2007, 12:04 pm

I think I'd find reading a whole book in dialect rather hard work. However, I don't think I'd actually object to it, if the book was written in the first person.

I might have slightly more trouble finding a justification if it were written in the third person. However, I think it's very difficult to draw a line between a level of dialect use that doesn't seem to alienate unfamiliar readers (Iain Banks, for example), something that might be more difficult (Sunset Song maybe) and the really challenging books you've mentioned already.

It's not just a Scottish problem, though. I've read English writers doing country or cockney dialects that made me cringe; I've read American books with yeehah dialogue which rang false. But I've also read dialect that worked. It may be a case of "do not do this unless you are a really good writer and are confident you can pull it off".

I'm an English teacher's daughter from Edinburgh. I think I speak standard English - though my English-born husband begs to differ*. But I don't exactly think of it as "speaking properly". I'm far more irritated by people who constantly use "myself" and "yourself" (when they mean "me" and "you") than I am by people who say "yous".

*And he pronounces the past participle of "eat" as "ett". There really is no standard English.

11PossMan
Editado: Jan 5, 2007, 3:04 pm

As kicking_k says this is not just a Scottish problem. I was brought up in Lancashire and have interests in family history and genealogy. I really cringe when some posters really overdo the dialect (especially if they're American). And extracts from some of these efforts more than a paragraph long (let alone a book) are, as kicking_k says, hard work.
On the other hand I was looking at some transcripts of BBC programs looking at dialect throughout the country. There was a long transcript of an old lady from (I think) Bacup in Lancashire not far from where I lived. She was not 'trying' to talk dialect but I recognised quite a few of her expressions. There was an analysis which pointed out differences in her vocabulary and grammar from 'standard' English which I found very interesting. I found there were several expressions which differed from 'standard' but I would not have questioned if my attention had not been drawn to them.
But although now I would hesitate to condemn dialect as 'bad' English I still find it very tiresome when overused. I once read a book (should I admit this) by Nigel Tranter, Scotland's answer to William Harrison Ainsworth, in which the main character (I think it was William Wallace) never just 'said' anything but he 'jerked' it. It really got on my nerves even though it was more of a stylistic tic than real dialect.

12glabrous
Fev 13, 2007, 8:17 am

Ah, the auld vernacular question again!!!! I recognise that this thread is a bit auld, but ah can'nae resist enterin the fray. deargreenplace hits the nail on the head - it's what you're brought up wi, short and sweet. It's inextricably tied up wi identity and culture. Yur mother tongue, no less. Ye take it in wi yur mother's milk. deargreenplace 'despises' 'yous'. Ah loathe the word 'footie' tae describe football. It screams at me 'i'm not working class, and don't have a clue about football and/or i'm just saying it to be fashionable'. It's a knee-jerk reaction, we all have our prejudices. Basically, though, folk have tae be allowed tae use whatever words and language are necessary tae express their own identity.
deargreenplace says 'Why do all of the author's Glaswegians need to speak this way? There is more than one way to express a person's identity, and it really irks me that language is allowed to take over the whole book.' To me, this says: look, ye can dress however ye like, eat whatever ye like, read whatever books ye like, listen tae whatever music ye like, but........keep your mouth shut, you have no place in literature, because you offend me.' It's relevant to what jargoneer says too, about dialect 'adding' something to a book. Now, my argument here is that the language is central, it's not about 'adding' to a book, it's about the book being impossible in the first place without the language. The language comes first, the book second. It's the same all over the world in any language - there are certain ideas which simply cannot be adequately communicated in anything other than the mother tongue of that language.

As to William McIlvaney, anything i've read by has always struck me as ridiculously overblown and literary. When I read him I don't commune with the characters, aw i'm aware of is McIlvanney pullin the strings, unable to resist this metaphor, or that analogy. Kelman is all about puttin the reader in intimate contact wi the thoughts and SECOND-TO-SECOND lived experience of his characters. Kelman does'nae stick his nose in, he let's the characters and the books have their own life. I don't get that wi McIlvanney. Aw I get is McIlvanney.

Finally, deargreenplace, drop Buddha Da if ye can'nae get in tae it. Life's too short, there are too many books oot there. If ye did'nae like Busconductor, ye won't like How late. Ye'd be much better off readin Kelman's essays and thoughts on language and literatue, politics and power, generally, if yur interested maybe in explorin some of yur prejudices. Him and Tom Leonard. Ultimately, it's like Tom Leonard says: 'All living language is sacred.'

13Jargoneer
Fev 13, 2007, 9:12 am

Good effort. Had the same effect on me as I often get with books written in the vernacular - it made cringe at parts. :-D (Shouldn't mother be mither!)

I like your argument regarding the language coming first (and agree in principle) but I'm not sure I agree with some of the writers currently producing works in the vernacular. Sometimes it seems as if they are writing in vernacular because it is expected, and you can feel the strain. Kelman is the only writer who has really mastered the dialect and is capable of saying something worthwhile at the same time. I think this is due to Kelman, despite the language, actually being as much part of a European literary tradition than a Scottish one.

I like McIlvanney but I understand what you mean. McIlvanney is usually writing from the outside looking at his characters, therefore it seems acceptable that he can comment on them, be literary if you like. In doing that, he is just like most literary writers from around the world. Perhaps that is why McIlvanney had travelled better than more recent Scottish writers. It's not to say he doesn't have issues - he is overly sentimental about the working class, and his characters can be so stoical they become unbelievable.

14glabrous
Fev 15, 2007, 8:06 am

I'm really intrigued by aw of this. Jargoneer and dear green place, what makes you cringe/what do you despise most - the written vernacular or the spoken? D'you think this is a class issue? Are you surprised deargreenplace that a Phd student's mother tongue would be a Scots demotic???? As to the term 'travesties' of the English language, this is nothin but pedantry. Language is first and foremost about communicating and being understood, it could be argued. Certainly, to take one example, 'Yous' makes much more sense than just 'you' because it makes it clear that it's plural, where the english doesn't. Some people say 'you guys' (AAAAAAAAAGH!) instead, of course, to make the distinction. A distinction is clearly needed in some cases, of course. And that's the whole point, a writer does what s/he has to do to tell their story. If that means twisting it and bending it and breaking it, then so be it. Or if it means writing naturally, from your own language and culture and experience, regardless that some folk might recoil at what they see as your twisting and bending and breaking of it, so be it!

15Jargoneer
Fev 15, 2007, 8:40 am

Written language is not the same as spoken language. I can accept the Scots dialect in plays and films, for example. I just find it difficult to accept on the page because it never sounds right, it reads more like a bad parody of Scots than an approximation of the real thiing. This is not just against Scottish vernacular, but the majority of vernacular writing - it is very very difficult to pull off. It is even more difficult when the reader knows that spoken language well.

One of the issues with vernacular writing is that it ends up being parochial. The verncular becomes a barrier to understanding, a barrier to communication. We can see that in a film like "Sweet Sixteen" where the Glasgow language was subtitled for other parts of the UK. How do you subtitle a novel?

I still take issue that most writers are using the vernacular because it best suits the story. No-one was following in the footsteps of Kelman but people followed in the tracks of Welsh. If it was a literary conceit this would be reversed. Welsh and Rebel Inc publishing made this style of writing the flavour of the month, and authors jumped in. It's the Scottish Renaissance revisited as farce.

Compare Scottish literature to Irish. That's right, you can't. Ireland embraced language, expanded language, exported language. They produced great writers hailed throughout the world, and we produced.....what?

16glabrous
Fev 16, 2007, 6:21 am

OK, 3 points 2 address, and I'll take the 2nd (easiest) 1 first. I appreciate your point about bandwagon-jumpin, but ah'm still no sure it's as simple as that. Welsh, for aw he's no much cop as a writer, obviously inspired and stimulated a lot of folk in a way that Kelman did'nae/does'nae. Welsh obviously 'spoke the language' of far more folk, who then realised that the stuff of their own lives were fit subjects for literary treatment. Ah'm no sure that there just copyin him. And even if they are, maybe it's the same way that a wean has tae copy its mother, and repeat the words she says, afore goin on tae find its own voice. Maybe just need 2 wait on these folk maturin past the simple copycat stage. Maybe, there's a big pay-aff comin soon, ah don't know.

Now yur 1st point. It's obviously a subjective thing, but ah don't see a great deal of difference atween Welsh and Kelman, when it comes purely tae the vernacular. The big problem is of course that there's nae vernacular tradition for the modern, urban Scots demotic. We read a word on the page, and because it's no spelled fonetically, the way we we're used tae hearin it, some folk seem tae reject it as parody. Is that the problem? Do ye have the same problem wi Tom Leonard's poems which are rendered wi far more phonetic 'accuracy'? D'ye think folk are ready/will ever be ready tae read a full novel written fonetically? A poem or two, maybe, aye, but ah think most folk would find it worse than the haufway house that most vernacular Scots prose writers have opted for. When ah read Kelman or Welsh, ah don't read it as ah see it on the page, ah imagine the voices and re-write it in ma own head, tae make it faithful tae the way the characters would sound. It's an imaginative, collaborative enterprise. And ah think that's the problem, folk are maybe gettin too hung up on the fact that there might be so many different ways of renderin the vernacular on the page, so there's nae 'right way'! And folk seem tae need a 'right way'. That's the only explanation ah can find, because certainly in yur own case, jargoneer, ye don't seem tae have a problem wi the spoken stuff. It seems to be cause theirs nae official, sanctioned correlation atween the sounds that come oot folks' mouths and the marks that appear on the page.

As to the Irish/Scottish thing, that's a whole different issue, and ah take it you're talkin about the ones who wrote in ENGLISH, but wi the imagination of the Irish. Ah'll revisit this question another time, but ah think it's tae do wi the Irish bein far less puritanical than the Scots, no makin such a big distinction atween fantasy and reality, which extends tae they're ability tae 'sell theirselves' as well. They're no feared tae talk theirselves up, whereas the Scots are, because we don't think we have the right tae re-invent ourselves, because we see it as dishonest and we have an obligation tae 'the truth'. Well, better get back tae work.

17deargreenplace
Fev 19, 2007, 8:47 am

Would have spoken up earlier but I've been on holiday for a week and feel less inclined to skulk about on LT when I'm not avoiding work. One thing I'd like to clarify is that I have no problem with phonetic or dialectical (if that's a word) writing - this wasn't what I found difficult about Buddha Da. Like glabrous, I often try to hear the voices when I'm reading things like Docherty, for instance, and there's a certain sentimental charm in reading words that were used by my grandparents that you don't hear so much any more. Pedantry, I will happily own up to. I do have some freakishly old-fashioned opinions that don't sit well with my general outlook, but I'm living with it. Just don't get me started on 4x4s and white socks ;)

I will detest hearing and reading the word "yous" until my dying day. Why is it so difficult for people to understand plurals? Sorry, but I'd rather not see it written down and that's a personal preference that I wondered if anyone else shared. Given that I work in edukashon, to me, it perpetuates and legitimises the mistake and I'd prefer not to see it when I'm reading.

I did go on and finish Anne Donovan's book because I tend to finish things even when I'm not enjoying them that much. My issue with The Busconductor Hines was its bleakness, rather than the language. Overall though, I'd agree that this genre of writing about the working class in dialect is getting tired. Is this really all we have to say for ourselves?

18lriley
Fev 19, 2007, 10:20 am

If you're looking for some feel good happy ending type of book with Kelman--you're going to the wrong place. I have no problem with Kelman and his working class anti-hero's or the language that they or he uses--to me it's very expressive. Characters in his books tend to me to be normal and recognizable--they do not live in palaces. The situations they find themselves in are not coincidental to what Kelman seems to be trying to do. His books are bleak at times but people have a tendency to look away out of convenience from a lot of awful things. I'll not say that I haven't done the same. By the way his A disaffection is mainly about a schoolteacher.

19deargreenplace
Fev 19, 2007, 10:55 am

lriley, my attempt at Kelman was quite a few years ago, but the other problem I remember was that nothing much seemed to happen. I try to stay open-minded about books though (at least!), and quite often I find that I can get into a book years later, even if it didn't interest me the first time, which is why I'm curious to give him another try.

20lriley
Fev 19, 2007, 12:43 pm

Well in A disaffection--the teacher is young and disaffected. His life is one misalliance after another--job, girlfriend (or wife)--he drinks a lot and feels stifled in general. I liked it a lot but the action keeps to those bare bones. It isn't written so much in the vernacular as some other books of his--if I remember correctly. Kelman is in the Ken Loach the filmmaker kind of vein. He has social prerequisites to shine some light on and it veers off into more political territory at times. It's not a wonder to me that readers tend to like him a lot or not at all. I just happen to be one who likes him.

21glabrous
Fev 22, 2007, 8:12 am

deargreenplace, your worst nightmare happened tae me yesterday - me and a pal of mine were parkin in Tesco car park when a guy got out of a 4x4, wearin white sox (ah saw them clearly as he dismounted), and said tae us, 'Yous can'nae park that there, ah saw that parkin space first!' Aaaagh, would you have survived such a horrible hat-trick?! Strangely, ah share your horror of the first 2, but not the last one. Don't you and lriley and everybody find the whole thing quite funny in a way, the way we're so prejudiced about words?! I laughed when i read deargreenplace's statement: 'I will detest hearing and reading the word "yous" until my dying day.' Ah could almost hear ye, shoutin, Wallace-like - 'they may take our lives, but they'll never take our 2nd person plural pronoun.' I still think 'yous' is perfectly logical, though, the English language is deficient, and the word 'yous' plugs the gap, it's needed to remove ambiguity, and that's why i think that at some stage it will become recognised and officially sanctioned in dictionaries and by our educational system, etc. Language lives and moves and changes, and that's part of its charm, I think. Do you have the same problem with ewes, deargreenplace? Just out of curiosity.

I agree that Kelman can be seen as being bleak. But that's because he has a very pure vision of what his writing should be doing - namely, faithfully representing the consciousness of people from his culture and community in a very faithul way, their moment-to-moment thoughts and actions. He wants to show real people in real, everyday situations. Inevitably, that might be a bit bleak and boring, and it's too puritanical for my liking. I really admire what he does, and think he's a brilliant writer, but, for example, I didn't get through all of 'You have to be careful in the land of the free', because it bored me. I want a bit of excitemement or difference, or whatever, even it does mean compromisin his hi-fidelity approach. lriley mentions a disaffection, and i think that's his best work. the stuff the schoolteacher protagonist has his pupils recite in the classroom is funny and revolutionary and made me feel so good about him, the way he's always attacking power structures. As to deargreenplace's statement: 'Overall though, I'd agree that this genre of writing about the working class in dialect is getting tired.', could you elaborate on that deargreenplace? Is it the same as me saying 'The genre of writing about the middle class in standard English is getting tired'? Finally, where is everybody else in the group?

22deargreenplace
Fev 22, 2007, 9:46 am

I was agreeing with jargoneer in #3. Again, this is just my feeling, but Scottish dialectical writing seems to be turning into the literary equivalent of tartanry - this book is written in Scottish dialect, therefore it is how Scottish books should be representing the country and is all we have to say. The language is almost being used to define the nation, and I'd like there to be more to Scotland than language. This is what I meant by asking don't we have anything else to say for ourselves? I'm enjoying William McIlvanney's book because the language is incidental to what's going on in the book. Similarly, when I've read Alan Warner or Louise Welsh or Zoe Strachan, they can write Scottish characters without bashing you over the head with language every two minutes. I think that Irvine Welsh succeeded because of his subject matter. Where are all the writers who can simply take their national identity for granted in their writing, instead of making it an issue all the time?

As for ewes....another of my mother's favourite sayings is "ewes are female sheep" - uttered any time she heard someone say "yous". If only I were allowed to say it aloud to students instead of in my head. Actually, maybe I should see a therapist about this :D

23kicking_k
Fev 23, 2007, 6:51 pm

Em, deargreenplace... Maybe you should! ;)

I'm not sure I agree, either, that it's necessary to adopt an internationally-spoken language in order to engage in literature on an international level, as seems to be suggested. I wonder if you would have the same views if you'd been born a speaker of (for example) Czech. Or Finnish. Or any language that isn't likely to crop up in conversation classes. Yes, many speakers of such languages do learn English, but unless they are a Joseph Conrad or a Vladimir Nabokov, they probably would feel they did their best writing in their mother tongues.

I'm not saying that this may not have an effect on how non-native speakers view their work. I speak French, but I'm sure I don't get as much out of Madame Bovary as I would if I were a native speaker. I've just read Don Quixote in translation, because there's no way I could tackle the original. Probably in doing so I missed out on certain aspects of the work. Such is life.

Self-expression in one's own language is - if not a human right, then close. I'm not saying that insisting published work be in Standard English is as criminal as insisting that Gaelic and Welsh-speaking children speak English and only English in school - which happened not so long ago, and is now quite rightly condemned - but it isn't doing you any actual harm. It is a matter of taste.

(Not that I don't understand how you feel about 'yous', although I don't agree. I feel the same way when I see wrongly placed apostrophes.)

24deargreenplace
Editado: Fev 26, 2007, 4:31 am

kicking_k, maybe I'm not being clear enough about my position. I have never advocated that Scottish writers should not or could not write in phonetics or dialect. I enjoy many books written in this way, as I've said above. I absolutely have never claimed that everyone should write in standard English!

What I object to is the over-reliance on this vernacular style as a way of marking out national identity, and that it would be nice occasionally, if writers used other ways of expressing Scotland or Scottishness in their work.

25Jargoneer
Fev 26, 2007, 8:27 am

#24 I couldn't agree more. There seems to be a belief at present that books written in the vernacular are real Scottish books. It is worth noting that this verncular has never been a written language (until Scots, which does have a written tradition), therefore claiming it as the legitimate voice of Scotland has no historical veracity.

Personally, I'm waiting for Scottish writers to show some ambition. Where are the major novels about Glasgow (Lanark excluded) and Edinburgh? Where are the big novels that sweep through time? The vernacular is a valid voice but with it comes a re-inforcement of parochialism.

26kicking_k
Fev 26, 2007, 4:41 pm

Perhaps I did misunderstand your position slightly - and perhaps you misunderstand mine a little! I certainly don't believe that a book has to be written in the vernacular to be truly Scottish... just that there is room for all styles of writing, including even the most challenging of vernacular or unconventional writing.

I do think that it's possible for one person's parochialism to be another's strong sense of place, however.

While I don't want to sound as though I'm blowing my own trumpet, I'm currently trying to write a Big Novel set in Edinburgh. It will not be written chiefly in the vernacular. Although I've enjoyed books set in Edinburgh by several modern writers, I don't feel that the city I know is quite the city of Ian Rankin or Alexander McCall Smith or even Joyce Holms - but getting my Edinburgh to live on the page without sounding parochial is a serious challenge. And I hope many writers (better writers than I am) will rise to it.

27glabrous
Fev 27, 2007, 8:28 am

Firstly, there are already countless Scottish authors not writing in any kind of vernacular. A. L Kennedy, Andrew O'Hagan, Janice Galloway (most of the time), Alisdair Gray, Alexandar McCall Smith, Ali Smith, Jackie Kay, James Robertson (most of the time). There are far more not writing in any kind of vernacular, than are using it. So, I simply don't understand the assertion that it would be 'nice, occasionally', for authors not to write in any kind of vernacular. Given the amount of people in this country who speak some kind of vernacular or demotic, or whatever you want to call it, and that's the vast majority, the real question should be 'why aren't there more folk writin in their own language? What does this tell us about democracy and power?' Which would take us straight to Kelman's A Disaffection. I'm not concerned particularly about Scotland or Scottishness, we could be here forever debating exactly what those are. What I do know is that people have a right to their own languages and their own cultures, wherever, whenever and however they choose to define those.

As to jargoneer's point, nobody's claiming that this so-called vernacular is THE legitimate voice of Scotland, literary or otherwise, but it's certainly A legitimate voice.

As to the parochialism argument, I disagree that because something's vernacular, it's automatically parochial. So, Robert Burns is parochial now, is he? I defy anyone to read Trystin by John Aberdein, in its thick, rich vernacular, and say that it doesn't address universals. As far as ambition is concerned, I think Ali Smith's The Accidental is a very ambitious and bold, political book. James Robertson's The Testament of Gideon Mack is also ambitious. I see no lack of ambition.

But I think we need to get specific: let's pick targets - either let's all ready a book in the vernacular together and discuss, or give a critique of a vernacular book or two that you've already read, and why it ruffled your feathers. Or just simply state who you think is not a worthwhile or good vernacular writer and why?

Very interesting kicking_k about your novel. I'd love to know more. Have you had anything published? What stage are you at with the novel? Targetted any agents/editors yet?

28kicking_k
Mar 4, 2007, 3:53 pm

My novel? I've written a bunch of key scenes, but need to join them up and sort out the bits of the plot that don't work. This may take a while, so I'm not looking for an agent (etc) yet. Progress is being delayed a bit because I work full-time and am also studying for a postgraduate degree... but I'll get there in the end.

It's a multilayered fantasy/historical novel set in Edinburgh. Some of my influences are Robert Louis Stevenson, Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke and Robert Holdstock.

I've never had anything published, sadly (unless you count a short story in the Scotsman School Magazine competition years ago!) but you've got to start somewhere.

29bcamp0404
Editado: Nov 3, 2009, 5:08 pm

Glabrous got it right, at the beginning....
It wid be a shame tae loose it, even though oor teechers tried tae ram "english" doon oor throats, an no speek like choochters.
It is difficult tae reed it at first, but yince yae get intae it yae canny pit a buke doon.
So the vernacular is fine thank you.
Brian S. Campbell,
Transplanted Scot living in Canada.

30starrryeyes
Mar 8, 2010, 8:29 pm

in actual fact "yous" is not grammatically incorrect or defiling of the English plurals. Perhaps It defiles English in your eyes because that have been taught that it is not a word when in fact it is. It just isn't an English word.

31LesMiserables
Out 8, 2011, 4:24 am

> 1

Your aversion is not out of the ordinary. We often compare the regional vernacular punitively against the perceived central tenet of 'book' (British) English.

However, when you view the regional variants as evolutions of a common ancestor, then you don't tend to worry about it.

I fall into 'slang' when I am talking to my brothers etc. I will say fitbaw rather than football, and baw instead of ball; hid instead of heed; Am no gon tae the game the morra - I will not be going to the game tomorrow, and so on and so forth. I quickly revert back to book English when I am conversing with colleagues here in Australia etc as I would be unintelligible.

'Standard' or 'book' English is an evolving language. There are many cases were immigrants have taken SP over to America and Canada hundreds of years ago and have held onto certain words in their original sense, whilst those same words have altered in the land they came from (England). In this sense, the SP is the one to be criticised then.

It is also not true to say that the language originated in one place and has been perverted on its march outwards from its place of birth. Many languages and dialects have come together at various times and places to give us our local peculiarities.

32Sophie236
Editado: Out 11, 2011, 9:22 am

#11 *waves at PossMan* I was brought up near Bacup, although my first seven years were spent in Salford, and the Lancashire dialect was impenetrable to me - I think an entire book written in any kind of dialect would feel very much like hard work. I find Christopher Brookmyre deeply enjoyable, though - I never have any trouble with the speech of his Weegie characters ...

(Off topic, but I recall that the next-door neighbours in Lancashire had some of the strangest (and unintentionally amusing) phrases - the girl referred to her dad "hiring" her bike. Renting it out to someone? No, "highering" the saddle ...

I called round to see this child one day, only to be told by her dad that she couldn't come out to play, as she was "full o' paint". No, she hadn't taken to drinking the stuff - she just had paint on her hands and clothes.

And the local off-licence was always referred to as the "selling-out shop" - not, as I thought, a reference to their habit of never having anything on the shelves, but to their "off-sales" of alcohol!)

OK, back to your regular programming ...

33PossMan
Out 11, 2011, 2:33 pm

32# Waving back - hello Sophie: As matter-of-fact most of my current problems with "dialect-speak" are nothing to do with books but with a genealogical mailing list for Lancashire. Some of the main participants insist in posting in what they think is dialect to prove their Lancashire roots. I suspect if they uttered some of their sentences in a Ramsbottom or Bacup pub they'd be laughed out of the door. Your examples sound really true to me but some of these people are speaking a language I don't recognize.

34Sophie236
Out 12, 2011, 5:06 am

Aye, well. 'Appen so.

(Non-Lancastrians - apologies!)