Yesterday, my husband asked me to listen to a video on Hiligaynon. It's one of the many dialects in the Philippines used by approximately 11 million Filipinos. I speak Hiligaynon, though since our arrival in the UK, it has become rusty. It was the language I spoke during my last years in primary school and all throughout highschool. In university, I still spoke it but not as much because I was no longer immersed in that culture.
It won't come as a surprise that I know how to speak the language because I was born in the Philippines. Growing up, I'd hear bits and pieces of the multifaceted dialects (I'd really call them languages) that make up the regionalism and culture of the entire Filipino nation. But it comes as a pleasant breath of fresh air when two Americans speak it so fluently as to make people think they were born there. Save for their blond hair and blue eyes that differentiates them from everyone. It was humbling to see that they had made an effort to learn a language so vastly different from their own.
Language is what we use to communicate to each other. In writing, it's the way we piece a story together in a coherent and engaging way for our readers to enjoy.
I've come across a few books that use language to the extreme. By extreme, I mean every nuance in pronounciation is also written down for the reader to decipher. And when a reader starts to decipher what their brains can't comprehend because it's something they have not come across with on a regular basis, they lose interest in the book and chuck it out. Well, if you have the book on your Kindle, you take it off your library, not chuck out your Kindle.
Well yeah, okay. You're rich and can chuck out your kindle and get a new one. Fine. Whatever floats your boat.
I am very conscious of this when I write my stories. Many if not all of the Cynn Cruors come from Scotland. The Hamilton, Roarke's father, is a man who insists on tradition and grudingly accepts that modern techonology has it's uses. But when I write him into the story, I write how he says words. Dialogue is punctuated with phrases like I hae na (I havent), I dinnae ken (I don't know), Ye hae ta (You have to). He as well as Harold Ruth, Phoebe's dad, have dialogues like these, though Harold's dialogue doesn't have that much language nuance. Language is meant to situate the reader in the time, place, and culture of the story. But sometimes, when I get carried away, I have to remember that my readers may not be too keen on too much accent dialogue and use these phrases sparingly.
Alternatively, when writing this kind of dialogue, I put a glossary in the first page before the story begins. The disadvantage of this is that, the reader might have to keep referring to it. So it's a matter of balance, isn't it.
Think of the reader when you write your story but not too much for the story to become stilted and you don't feel like reading the story yourself.