Messages Archive

Spoken and written dialect

John K Jordan
Raised near Pittsburgh PA but in the south nearly 50 years I am reasonably fluent at both south'rn and yankee dialects. When I first moved south I had to ask some people from the "deep" South to repeat things several times before I could understand. When I go back north my family says I quickly lapse into yankee talk.

I hear and see a huge difference between normal spoken communication between people in an area and artificially forced written "dialect" where the author goes to great lengths to use exaggerated spelling of even common words. This usually comes across as a cheap attempt to get attention. For me a surprisingly small amount of "cute" gets annoying quickly.

The interviews in the Foxfire and other good books might be a guide for a respectful way to provide a feel for the dialect of the southern Appalachian mountain people without coming across as mocking or artificially cute and making the text excessively diffult to read.


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