As a writer, I try to avoid too much in the way of dialect. On a good day, I treat it like a pungent spice, adding just enough to flavor things, but not so much that it distracts from the other stuff that’s going on. On a not-so-good day … let’s just say that editing is my friend.
In TV and movies, I find that dialect can be jarring, especially when it’s done wrong. Like when supposed locals in a Boston-set crime drama talk about taking ‘the 95′ (we take ’95’) or ‘the Massachusetts Turnpike’ (it’s ‘da Pike’). Ahem. I’m looking at you, Rizzoli & Isles.
Closer to home, though, I’ve been getting my own object lesson in dialect, in the form of now year-and-a-half-old, horrifyingly verbal Wallaby. In other words–don’t say something if you don’t want it repeated!
Like the other day, when Arizona comes into the kitchen, looking quizzical. “Did he just say ‘corn on my crotch’?” And I blink innocently, hide the remains of kiddo’s lunch behind my back, and say, “Hm. Don’t know where that could have come from …”
Or when Wallaby says “Goodness sakes!” as his blocks collapse on him. (That’s straight from my mom, and makes me laugh every time I hear it.) Or, well, a few expletives that will remain deleted, and are currently being policed as best we can.
Then there’s the “Nope.” Yes, our son has gotten quite good at the “NO!” of toddlerhood, except that he picked up my version of the phrase. Which is somehow both more adorable and more annoying when you’re on the receiving end from your little cherub.
Me: Okay, dude. Five more minutes and it’s bye-bye playground!
Me: That wasn’t an option.
Him: Op-shun. NOPE!
Yep. I’m in trouble, but laughing as the mad descent begins. It all makes me much more aware of language (his, mine, ours, the writing), and how we sound to ourselves and each other. Will it make me a better writer? I couldn’t say. But I have a feeling I’m going to get a whole lot more creative with my non-curses over the next few years.
So help me out, JauntyFriends. What’s your favorite non-curse curse, or out of the mouths of babes story?