Re: Tina the Techwriter Reopens the Great Debate

Subject: Re: Tina the Techwriter Reopens the Great Debate
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 10:04:45 -0700

Quoting "Mike O." <obie1121 -at- yahoo -dot- com>:

> I'm not so sure people don't think in dialect. I think some thoughts are
> definitely encoded in audio.

It's true that the cadence of speech often finds its way into thought, and that
people might use dialect words in their thoughts. But very few people, if any,
are aware of their own accent. So, to them, their thoughts won't have an accent.

But even if people are aware of their accent, I doubt that makes a difference.
For example, like many Canadians, my vowels make little distinction
between "hill" and "hell" or between "don" and "dawn." I know that, because
I've seen my voice pattern compared to other accents, and over the years, I've
gradually managed to perceive this quirk if I listen carefully. However,
despite the fact that I have a very good inner ear and can easily imagine what
a written passage would sound like or remember the cadence with which someone
spoke, I don't perceive myself as having an accent in my thoughts.

> Also, using dialect to represent inner thought is most likely a literary
> device (and not a bad one!) rather than an effort to be scientifically
> accurate.

Personally, I find it as irritating as the device that signifies that someone
is French by having their sentences punctuated with "Mon Dieu!" and "Sacre
Bleu!" Both devices may be convenient, but they are so clumsy that they brand a
work that uses them as hackwork of the lowest order. Even competent hackwork
wouldn't stoop to them.

Writers, of course, are under no obligation to depict exactly how people think
or speak. As someone else pointed out in this thread, a transcript of most
people would be disjointed and grammaticallly incorrect. For this reason, when
we talk about a writer having naturalistic dialogue, what we really mean is
that the writer gives a good impression of how people imagine that they speak.

At the same time, a certain connection with reality is generally considered
necessary for literary merit. Even if the work in question is a fantasy, there
has to be some plausibility. So far as I'm concerned, having someone think in
an accent is so unobservant that the writer is immediately revealed as being
not worth my time.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604-421.7177


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Re: Tina the Techwriter Reopens the Great Debate: From: Sean Hower

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