Oct 17, 2011

Posted by in Question | 11 Comments

Question – Do Your Characters Have Foreign Accents?

Last week I asked you about how characters look.  This week I am asking about how characters talk.

Bones has a British accent.  Roarke has an Irish accent.  Goodness even Barrons has an accent.  But do you hear these characters speak with their accents in your head while reading their dialogue or do you just hear your own voice?

For some reason, sometimes I hear Bones’ accent in my head and other times I don’t.  It probably depends on what he is saying.  There are certain expressions that are so English that I can’t help but say it with a slight British flare.  But most other accents I don’t repeat.  I just can’t.  A)  It takes me longer to read a character’s dialogue if I add in an accent consequently taking me longer to read the book (which bugs me) and B)  I sound like an idiot to myself if I try to add in the accents.

The accent I have the most trouble with is Scottish.  I want to read over it but it’s difficult since it’s one of the few accents that can be written into the dialogue.  Expressions like “go tae your hands again…let me give it tae you” and “you will no’ get away” can’t really be ignored.  And I suck at reading that accent!  Really, it’s embarrassing.

So what about you?  When you read a character’s dialogue, does he/she have a foreign accent?

  1. Great post!
    Characters absolutley have accents in my head. Jeaniene Frost’s Bones has this great Cockney accent and Spade has a very upper crust British accent in my head. And Scottish accents, Oy! I actually will start getting a bit of the brogue myself if I read to many books with Scottish characters in a row. 🙂

  2. I find the Scottish characters easier to read with accents in my head, maybe because I read them a lot. I hardly ever do accents with the women unless it’s written in well. With the men it goes back and forth. A few weeks ago I listened to an audio book of The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons by Katie MacAlister, it was a good book but I hated the readers accent for Baltic and Ysolde. Baltic did not sound sexy at all and Ysolde sounded like she had been smoking for years!

  3. Interesting question…honestly, they all sound like me. Unless their dialogue is written with an accent I don’t fill one in myself.

  4. I think it’s a bit different for me… Like I’m french, I give the same english accent for everyone (I know it’s the easiest part). But I confess I never really thought about that, I will try now ! Maybe I’ll try too to listen some news accents to make comparison.

  5. really good post , some times they do but sometimes my voice

  6. Nope…nope. That has never happened

  7. I love this question. For me normally they all sound like my “accent”. If it’s written in I’ll remember that the person is supposed to be from a certain country or area of the U.S. and then I’ll use that for a few pages and then fall right back into my Kansas accent. LOL. So I guess it just depends on what mood I’m in and if I am trying to remember what accent they are supposed to be speaking in.

  8. Great question!! Sometimes the characters have anaccent-like Barrons was British, but most of the time they don’t. For instance, no matter how many times it was said, Mac did not talk with a southern accent for me. Maybe because of how it was written?

  9. CdnMrs – I probably don’t do the accents in my head also because I can’t do accents. It sounds like you’re pretty good at them. lol

    Book Diva – OMG you are so right and I never thought about it before. I NEVER even try to add the accents to the female characters. Only the men. What’s with that?! LOL

    Lisa – So you’re like me. Yay!

    Melliane – That’s a wonderful point! Most people must use their own accents to read… Interesting…

    roro – Depends on what you feel like right? 🙂

    blodeuedd – That’s probably for the best seeing how many historical books you read. They must almost always have accents in those books! 🙂

    Deanna – That’s true – the remembering what accent they are supposed to have. Yeah…just easier to do it in my own voice. lol

    Colette – I never added Mac’s accent either. I usually forget she even has one. I listened to a snippet of the Fever audiobook and the narrator speaks with the accent and I had to think for a second “why is she talking like that?” lol

  10. For me, it really depends! I tend to neglect it in books a lot unless the author reminds me enough that I remember. Cultural or socioeconomic slang usually reinforces this, as do certain colloquialisms.

    As a roleplayer and a reader, I tend to be a lot better with thinking of how my characters speak than others — likely because I “know” them better! 😛 I’m the best at remembering my Quebecker character’s accents since they all differ a bit, especially the one who is part Cree. But I always find authors don’t really remind you of this — it might be mentioned in passing, but they don’t force this reality on me a lot when I read.

    At the same time, when they do force it on, it seems too pushy! 😛 I hate when they toss in too much of their own homemade swears. Those get me every time… 😡

  11. It really depends on two things, whether I know the accent and can do it along with reading it in my head and if the author really does it well so for example Bones from Cat and Bones (haha! can’t remember the correct book names!) the way Ms Frost uses old/cheesy English lines for Bones to say makes you (or me at least) say his lines in an English accent, even though its as if she’s never head a Brit speak before!
    Similar with historical’s that uses a scot’s brogue and Nora Roberts 😉 does an Irish one in her books.

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