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 Regional details - do they need an explanation?

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PostSubject: Regional details - do they need an explanation?   Sun 03 Oct 2010, 2:59 am

Hi everyone!

As my next Veronika story is going to be set in my hometown and in the farming community of the Darling Downs a few hours from where I live, I'm hoping to spice it up a little with some regional details and local references so that it doesn't feel like just another non-descript locale that really could be anywhere.

There are some uniquely Oz words, phrases, objects, etc that Simon and his brothers (and me, of course) would not think twice about using in everyday life; but I know from experience it can leave people from other areas scratching their heads and going "what the?"

My question is this . . .

When you're reading something set in an area you're not familiar with using slang and other eccentricities that you may or may not understand, do you find it helpful if the author includes footnotes to explain or would you rather muddle along and try to work it out for yourself?
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spladoum
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PostSubject: Re: Regional details - do they need an explanation?   Sun 03 Oct 2010, 4:33 am

I don't consider it to be an issue if the context is clear, or if there's a wee bit of expository dialogue to help it along. If that's just not possible though, an asterisk with a footnote is always welcome. Very Happy
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martoele
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PostSubject: Re: Regional details - do they need an explanation?   Sun 03 Oct 2010, 9:52 am

Illandrya wrote:
Hi everyone!



My question is this . . .

When you're reading something set in an area you're not familiar with using slang and other eccentricities that you may or may not understand, do you find it helpful if the author includes footnotes to explain or would you rather muddle along and try to work it out for yourself?

Hi Judi! For me that would be really perfect.... if it's not too much work for you.... Smile

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Flatter
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PostSubject: Re: Regional details - do they need an explanation?   Sun 03 Oct 2010, 1:00 pm

I am used to hear/read English sentences with unfamiliar words in it, and usually I am quite good at guessing its meaning (although... maybe not, coming to think of it, it MIGHT explain some of the queerer looks I receive when answering Wink ). Some genres like science fiction - in the pre-branded age - used to be crammed with foreign concepts and newly inventended words for describing the envisioned future and such things usually enriched the experience. So I don't mind at all to have some hard-to-understand slang in a story, as long as it's not making it impossible to get the meaning (like writing in Chinese which would make any guesswork impossible for me).

The only downside I see is that you may have more problems bringing the exact feelings the speaker has across. I am always painfully aware how many synonyms are out there for the same thing, but all have different nuances (which makes writing in English so difficult for me as a non-native speaker). I can come up with hundreds of examples in German, but I hope my English example is although very crude still a good one. "I urge you to do sth.", "I beg you to do sth.", and "I suggest you do sth." all mean the same thing - more or less. Which version the author chooses implies a a lot more meaning than the mere act of suggesting something. Such nuances may get lost if you use unknown slang (like the freshly invented "I holly you do sth."), because the reader hasn't attached any additional meaning to the wording, which means you have to take extra care to include all required information. I don't see sticking footnotes to it as a good method for this task. Using footnotes like "this is a snidely way of saying..." to bring information across is a bit like cheating on the craft, because you break the immersion. " 'I holly you do sth', he said snidely" would be a more proper way IMHO.

Because of this "information transport" problem I hold the puritan view that dialect should have a dramaturgic effect if it is being used at all. I know I am no writer and please don't see this as any kind of judgement of other person's writing style, but just my personal reading opinion. Usually all characters in a book speak a perfect English. No "uh", no "ehm" , no incomplete sentences, no wrong grammar etc. But usually all persons I met in real life do such mistakes. There are some German authors (like G. Wohmann) who mimic real life speech, but it's exhausting to read for me. James Joyce did it in "Ulysses" and I had to give up reading it because of it. There are some authors who write in dialects, but usually their readership is very limited and their main goal is to keep their dialect a living language (and not to write a great story in the first place). Using grammatical correct English speech has a purpose. It eases reading and makes understanding simple. The well-understood semantic makes achieving the desired effect easy. It doesn't distract from the story. So to use a dialect you should have a concrete reason. Like displaying a person as being eccentric or not well-educated. Or to add local color (but never put on too much make-up). To give a positive example: Tolkien put dialects to good use in "Lord of the rings" (as far as I seemed to recognize).

Oh well, I've done it again. I wasted a full hour writing a bizarre pamphlet at this page. Sorry. Ok, here is what my short answer would have been:

I'd rather muddle along" Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Regional details - do they need an explanation?   Sun 03 Oct 2010, 2:05 pm

Laughing Hahaha, there you go again Flatter! You're incredible. Smile I'm sure Judi will not overdo* it.

*exaggerate.

I I love you how you always get into details explaining your reasons. I think that's why we all love you!

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PostSubject: Re: Regional details - do they need an explanation?   Sun 03 Oct 2010, 4:42 pm

Hear..hear... Flatter... lol! I am with you on this one... I would like to muddle along too... Usually it should be clear in the context.. if not, and I am loosing you tere, I will let you know... Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Regional details - do they need an explanation?   Wed 06 Oct 2010, 4:09 pm

Thanks guys!

I think I only posted one regional reference in tonight's update and unless you are a cricket tragic from Australia or England it's probably pretty obscure, so I've added an author's note to the end.
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