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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Are ye fashed when ye cannae read the brogue?



Lucy from RBL asked me a very interesting question this morning via email. She wanted to know if the Scottish dialect in my books had received criticism. I told her that, indeed, some people didn't like the way I represented a Scottish accent in Surrender. I only heard objections from a few people, but still.

All authors write dialect differently. Some pour it on very thick. Others add just a dash to flavor their prose. Often a reader gets used to the way a favorite writer portrays dialect, so that reading another author's work seems jarring when they do it differently.

I derived my way of portraying "brogue" — not really an accurate word — from the way Scotts portray it themselves. I've been a fan of Celtic music forever and I have the advantage of having studied several languages. I'm fluent in Danish, and there are many Scandianavian-derived words in Gallic (Scottish Gaelic).

So I took the way the accent was portrayed in Scottish documents, including transcriptions of lyrics from medieval folk songs, and then I toned it down a bit, because it's quite possible to lay it on so thickly that most people can't understand a word of it. When I play my favorite Scottish CDs, my kids and my brother can't understand the majority of it, while it's totally transparent to me.

sic = sikke in Danish = such in English
sten = sten in Danish = stone in English
ben = ben in Danish = bone in English

And so on and so freaking on...

So here's what Lucy, who is a very talented writer, wanted to know: What turns a reader off when it comes to reading dialect? On the RBL board some said they didn't like reading dialect from the heroine, and I'm guessing that's because we all want to identify with the heroine. Make her too exotic, and that becomes more difficult.

Jump in and share your opinions!

Coming this weekend: Get lubed for Unlawful Contact!

Let me put it this way: Before you crawl between the covers with badass Marc Hunter, you need to feel the heat of Julian Darcangelo. Therefore, I will be offering an authographed copy of Hard Evidence to a reader who hasn't read it yet. Once I announce the contest, just post, tell me that you haven't read it but would like too, and I shall draw a name out of a hat. It's as simple as that. Or email me at pamelaclare @ earthlink.net (remove spaces).

Those of you who have read both books — yes, I have a sneak-preview team — feel free to explain why Julian's story serves as great foreplay for Marc's.

I hope everyone is having a safe and Happy Hallowe'en!

10 comments:

Debbie H said...

It doesn't bother me to read accents (especially Scottish or Irish) from the hero or the heroine. I seem to understand it naturally. Maybe it's being left handed? I know when my sister and I are at the festivals and a Scotsman or an Irishman are telling us a story, I am laughing my ass off at the story while my sister is just nodding and smiling not understanding a word.

Debbie_D said...

There was really only one book that I though had too much. It was distracting because I always need to try and pronounce the words and if I'm having trouble, I keep at it until something sounds ok. Then I have to go back & re-read to get back into the flow of the story.
I don't mind the heroine using it, I like the "truth" of the character to show.

Ronlyn said...

Can I enter my sister in your contest on the sly? ;-)

Bo said...

LMAO @ the title of this post!

I LOVE to read accents,and if I don't get it,I am like Debbie D-just keep at it until it sounds right.Or I will hop on the 'net & look up the word so I know what it means.

I don't mind when the heroine speaks that way also.One thing does bug me,and I have read a couple books like this,but they weren't keepers & their names are escaping me.Forever,I hope.Anyways,it's when the author decides,halfway through,or even later,to suddenly stop using an accent,to have the character speak 'normally'.It was so inconsistent,it just ruined what would otherwise have been a fairly decent story,one I would've enjoyed reading in its entirety,if not keeping.It just seemed like the hero had left the pages,and all of a sudden there was this prissy,proper Englishman in his place.GAG!!! I want to end the story with the H&H that I started it with.They can grow,they can evolve and become more,but they'd better be the same basic people I started with.I hate it when a character loses a piece of their identity/personality halfway through or later just b/c the author got sick of writing that way,or forgot about that aspect.They can suppress it for a little bit,certainly,but to just up and throw it out the window...well,it chapped my ass a bit,can you tell,LOL.

I have to say,I can't imagine Aimee letting anyone else feel Julian's heat,LOL.

Cheryle said...

I loved the accent in your books. I have read some that are heavy yours was perfect.

I told my friend Elli about your contest can she send the e-mail now?

Sue Z said...

Well, I have to tell you PC, I am reading a series of Scottish historicals right now and there are no accents in the dialect. I have to tell you, something is missing. You ken? If I am taking my mind out on a journey to another time and place, I want that journey to be as authentic as possible. Simply put; I gotta have the brogue! Bring on the brrrrrrr, baby!

I love your use of accents. Don't fash yourself, lass!

I love dialogue in my books. If a book gets too discriptive for me, I have a bad habbit of skipping over that and going for the dialogue.

J said...

Um, I don't mind either way and having an Irish mum and a Scottish dad I have no problem understanding what is being said.

Don't really see there can be a hard and fast rule as language is a living thing, always adapting and mutating.

Take my speech for example. I always say 'wee' for small. It is not an affectation, it is how I was spoken to. If something is small I would say "It's a skithery wee thing, isn't it?"
That is from my mum. Note, I say 'mum' rather than 'mam' which the rest of my Irish cousins say.

I use 'glaikit' and 'fash' from my dad, but would never, ever say 'Da' as that has class connotations and my mum would cringe to hear me say it. Glaikit is a great Glaswegian word and I have all sorts of sayings from both my parents that I use all the time. I refer to family members as "our" as in "Our Patsy" or "your" I will say to James "Ask your Lily where it is"

Of course, all that Scottish and Irish influence got strained through an Australian unbringing, so I am a shambles!

It keeps Aims amused though!
I better get to work on the dictionary, methinks.

So, don't worry what people moan about, language is a process and only grammar rules matter.

Just my rambling thoughts on it.

Joanie xx

Aimee said...

Yeah, what Jones said LOL!

And if you ever get her on YIM you gotta have her hook up the mic. I love listening to an Ozzie talk!
*snort*

Speaking of which, we are supposed to set a date & time so we 3 can hook up in chat for some serious "ketchup".

Freaking time difference anyway!

JennJ said...

I personally don't mind if both the heroine and the hero have accents. I LOVE the Scottish accent truthfully I could listen to a person with the Scottish brogue read a phone book and be happy LOL. I Love the lilting tones of the accent. I have read many books with this factor in it and haven't really seen any that I couldn't follow yet. I'm sure there are probably some out there. But to me the more Scottish tha better lass. :) I read to go to a different world and the more authentic the languages if it has a different country setting all the more realistic IMHO. Reading isn't like listening to someone talk really you can understand something written out better than you can understand some accents spoken sometimes it's not even the accent but the volume and the cadence and speed a person talks in that makes it hard to understand in person more so than the accent.

Lucy said...

thanks Pamela, your the best

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