Those of you who know me personally and have heard me speak, know there is little doubt that I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. My diction, the way I can’t pronounce the letters “er ” at the end of words ( I say “mutha” for “mother”) and my oft times nasal twang all give my birthplace a shout out. So instead of calling part of this site “Talk to Me,” I wanted you to really hear my voice when I said it, so “Tawk to me” is how it would sound if we were face to face.
This got me to thinking about my writing and writing in general when you want to bring your characters to life. The United States language is a huge mix of accents, colloquialisms, and cliched metaphors all melded together to form our wonderful country. No one speaks the same way as someone else, and neither should your characters. They can share phrases, accents, and even diction, but each character should “sound” different even if they are from the same place.
I lived in Wisconsin for seven years and the natives called a water fountain a “bubbler,” and soda, “pop.” In Brooklyn, my aunt called “Oil”, “Earl,” as in “they delivered some earl to the burna ( Burner!) yesterday and now I’ve got to pay for it.”
Wouldn’t you recognize someone who was from Ireland, if they said, “aye” and ‘Tis?” Or our neighbors to the north when they end every sentence with “eh?” Valley girls in California spew “Oh, m’Gawd! and “Fer sures!” to this day. In the U.K. the words “Brilliant” and “bloody” are descriptive staples. Australians call each other “Sheila” and “Mate.”
Southerners say “Hey,” while northerners say “Hi.” Highly educated people wouldn’t think of saying “Gotta” or “lotta,” and my cousins would never end a sentence with “Don’t you agree?” They’d be more likely to say, “ya know?”
I live in New Hampshire now. Wicked weather, eh? (Get it?!)
So, “TAWK TO ME.” Tell me something, ask me a question, give me some needed guidance. Just “TAWK TO ME.”