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May 2013

Anonymous asked

I have a question about depicting accents when you're writing (I'm trying to stick to accents and avoid dialect). Most of the information I'm finding is broad advice, so I was wondering if you knew of advice for or references listing common/familiar ways of depicting specific accents (French, Spanish, English, et cetera), especially if I'm using these accents as a base reference for a fantasy setting and can't simply say "she had a Cockney accent" and the like. Thank you!

The problem with writing accents and avoiding dialect is that accents are a part of what dialect is. Accents, for the sake of this, will be called pronunciation. How do you write pronunciation? you write it like it sounds. What’s the problem with this? you draw attention to your character’s ethnicity/nationality. But since it’s a fantasy setting, probably real countries don’t exist, so you don’t have that problem. Yet, second problem: the more you write it like it sounds, the harder it is for us to read it. If your characters are only appearing once or twice in your story, feel free to write it that way, but if they’re main or secondary characters? It’ll be a bit of a torture. This is why if I had to pick between dialect (vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation) and accent (just pronunciation), I’d go for dialect.

However, you still want to make us know they have interesting accents. My advice to you would be watching videos of people speaking english that are from different countries -a french person talking in english, a latin or spanish person speaking in english, etc- and trying to describe it.  

Another thing I was thinking about is that since real countries don’t exist, you may create your own regions and places- and their characteristical accents/dialects, which happen to be inspired in real ones. 

Accents in fantasy settings? 


  1. referenceforwriters posted this