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Thursday, March 27, 2014

It's All in the Accent

I love accents: Scottish, British, Irish, French, Italian . . . Who doesn't?

Okay, maybe I am alone, but I don't think so.  Just hearing an accent and you already have an idea of where this person came from. As an avid audiobook listener, I love it when the narrator also portrays the characters accent. I must say my favorite to date though is Lou Diamond Phillips and his narration of the Tom Clancy novels. Wow! Then again, it is Lou Diamond Phillips and should I really be surprised that he is able to distinguish between so many different characters from an array of countries?

However, hearing an accent and reading or writing one is completely different. I know some people are fine with mentioning a character had a sweet Irish lilt or a Scottish brogue, and that is enough. Then it is up to the reader to hear either the lilt or the brogue in the dialogue.

That doesn't work for me. I like the flavor in the dialogue. Not heavy, or heaven forbid, phonetically typed so we can read how it is meant to sound. That would simply give me a headache as I try and figure out what the character is trying to say.

I prefer a balance, or a sprinkling.

It is funny that I should complain or even comment on this. I recently got back a novella from my editor which is due out in April. In it, my hero is Irish. I simply mentioned he was and she wanted to know where his accent was. It was a head slap moment. My hero now drops his "g"s and uses "ya" instead of you.

This isn't the first time I've forgotten an accent either. The book I completed right after the Irish hero, has a Russian character. Once again, I completely forgot to give him an accent. I've pulled the pages from my critique partners so I can revise the dialogue. The pages are also littered with those red and blue squiggly lines that warn of spelling and grammar errors. Well, it isn't my fault my character omits "the", "a", "an" and "to" from his speech, or that there is no "w" sound and it needs to be replaced with a "v".

Really, it isn't as bad as all that because I am only sprinkling for flavor.

How do you feel about accents. Are you fine with the author simply saying a character had a lilt or brogue and leave it at that, or do you like to see the accent in the dialogue?

What is your favorite accent to hear?


  1. I don't know that I have a favorite accent, but I agree with you that they are fun to hear. in a text, I prefer a little (very little) accent in the dialogue--too much is hard to read--and the author simply saying the character has a lilt or brogue.

    And in movies and audiobooks they can be hard. I love the BBC Sherlock series, but I watch it with subtitles. in the case of Sherlock, it's not just the accent, but they also speak very quickly!

    1. I agree. I should start doing that instead of rewinding. I also have trouble with Downton Abbey, and I couldn't understand Matthew McConaughey in True Detectives, and that was just a Southern drawl. :)

  2. Definitely Irish or Scottish. I love that brogue.

  3. I prefer a flavor of an accent sprinkled throughout a book. Otherwise, it can become too much work to read. Sorry I missed yesterday, but I was working on copyedits for In Bed with a Rogue, which happens to have a couple Scottish characters. They would say they don't have a brogue. ;)

    1. Well whatever they wanna call it, its darn sexy! :)