Just thought it would be relevant to start off this post with a line from a song called "Wee Deoch and Doris", a song written by Scottish entertainer Sir Harry Lauder. Its translation? It's a beautiful, bright moonlit night (more or less). The Queen's English (or King's English, in Sir Harry's era) can be a wonderful thing when you put a wee Scottish spin on it. Also somewhat entertaining as I've noticed that the Scottish accent is used quite a bit for comedic advertising.
A couple of people mentioned that they liked the use of my dad's Scottish accent in a post from a few days ago. Funny thing is...I don't hear an accent when my parents talk. I suppose any child with parents who speak with an accent will tell you that after so many years of hearing that accent you no longer perceive it when they talk. When I was a child I would occasionally bring friends over after school. They would listen to my parents, smiling and nodding in response to what was being said to them. Later, my friends would ask me what it was they were saying.
I'd like to think that whenever I use a Scottish accent in my writing it's fairly accurate. So my knowledge of the accent comes from listening to them. And, of course, from listening to that great Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. I'll attach a link to a 7 min. video here, but it's 18+ for mature subject matter and more than a few 'sweary words.' My Auntie Pat back in Scotland used to mail me out the annual 'Broons' or 'Oor Wullie' at Christmas. These were compilations of the comics carried in the Sunday Post newspaper each week. I have included a Christmas themed comic of the Broons from 1993. It won't be easy to read and I'm hoping that you can click on the picture to enlarge it. It will give you a good example of the Scottish speech written as it is spoken.
*Crap* f*%$ing technology. I tried clicking on the comic strip after posting and it won't enlarge. Story of my life. If anyone desperately wants to read the Broons comic email me and I'll send you the one that I scanned.
My creative writing instructor, Ed Kavanagh always told us that we should be careful when using local dialects in writing. It's often best to not even attempt it unless you do it well. Below is a short excerpt from his novel "The Confessions of Nipper Mooney" published by Killick Press in 2001. I think it gives a flavour of the Newfoundland accent without being over the top.
"How you findin' the teachers?"
"Okay, I s'pose."
"Well, I'd watch them, too--especially the Brothers. A couple of the fellas I works with on the dockyard went to school with the Brothers. They told me all about 'em. Some of the friggers sounds like real nut cases." He glanced at Nipper. "Want my advice?"
"Blend in," Bobby said. "Don't go doin' nothin' to draw attention to yourself. Then the Townies will leave you alone. And the Brothers, well, as long as you don't piss 'em off, they probably won't look twice--unless you comes from some rich la-di-da family. Or unless you're right smart--you know, winning scholarships and stuff like that. That's what the fellas I works with said, anyway."
"No need to worry about that," Nipper said.
What's your thoughts on using accents in dialogue? Do you try it very often? Are you confident in using a certain accent or dialect? Enquiring minds want to know...
I'll finish here with links to a couple of articles I stumbled across. The Use of Foreign phrases in Creative Writing by Laurence O'Sullivan and How to Write Dialogue with a Foreign Accent by Polina Skibinskaya both seem to have useful information.