Saturday, June 5, 2010

Voice in writing, voice in life; please, no Madonna spoken here.

Larger Than LifeI'm currently reading Larger Than Life by Adele Parks, a British author, after which I am taking a break from all things English. Well, except the blogs I read. You guys are safe.

It's nothing against the UK, which sounds lovely, and which I'm hoping to visit next spring, actually.  The problem is my voice. I'm an American girl, writing American characters, and that means they have to sound, well, American. And not like Americans who watch too much BBC, either.

British-sounding syntax and word choices have been intruding themselves into my writing. Sometimes I catch myself squinting at whatever Lauren just said and asking myself, "Really? Would she really say it like that?" Then I re-write, taking out the "posh" that accidentally slipped in or the not-quite-right-for-New-England syntax. I don't know if it's my choice in TV and movie viewing, my reading material or perhaps just a genetic predisposition to being an Anglophile (how did you think I ended up named Guinevere, after all?).

Even MJ has noticed, off the page.  Cut to driving in the car, yelling at each other about politics as we like to even though we agree on everything (Our arguments are purely recreational):

"Well, that's bloody likely, isn't it?"

Concerned look from my darling. "I think you should limit your intake of Doctor Who."

Very well. I will stick to using the All-American F-bomb from now on when ranting about the BP disaster (I don't curse much, really; only when talking about politics, my job, extended family, buying a new car, Windows, texting, gyno visits, dentist visits, drivers when I am a pedestrian, drivers when I am riding my bike, and drivers when I am driving. Hardly at all).  Honestly, I'm not sure we can go to London on our vacay. I'd probably come home sounding like Madonna, and God only knows what my characters would be saying.

But... even though I do intend to strike all things English strictly from my writing and speech until I've, you know, been and might have reason to set a story there -- I can say loo, can't I? Going to the loo sounds about eighteen times more appealing than toilet. Just one more way the Brits keep it classy.


Old Kitty said...

Awww never limit your intake of Doctor Who!

Gillian Anderson. When she's visiting in Britain, she goes all posh english - it's quite bizarre (she spent a chunk of her childhood in north london knocking on my friend's door to see if they could play together).

Anyway - poppycock and balderdash is all I can say, yo! :-)

Take care

Alexandra Shostak said...

Hahaha. I say "bloody" all the time and I get made fun of for it.

Loo is definitely a better word than toilet. Bathroom or restroom are okay, except they're not actually good descriptions of what the bathroom actually IS. And in France (here I go with useless knowledge) sometimes they have a different room for the toilet and for the bath, so if you ask for the bathroom instead of the toilet, you might not actually get a loo :-P

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Lol, too funny. My 7 year old has been able to do a spot-on British accent since she was about 5... and I have NO idea where she picked that up from... we don't watch any British tv! LOL!

Guinevere said...

Old Kitty, I never knew that about Gillian Anderson - I'm a big fan of hers (was an X-files addict as a kid, and wanted to be a forensic pathologist too). That's funny! And I agree -- Doctor Who is essential.

Alexandra, that's true - I've always found that when you travel you have to be specific about what you want, even though it doesn't sound very dignified. I went to Quebec with friends over spring break in college (Mexico was too far to drive and we wanted someplace we could drink legally, as we were all 19/20). We hadn't done much research and, foolish kids that we were, didn't know it was French only in Quebec. I remember a long conversation with a gas station attendant that began with restroom and ended with "Toilet?" "Oh, toilette!" "Yes, that!" (Thank God we managed to stop there, I'm not sure what the next step was)

Dangerous, that is too cute (again). Your kids sound like a lot of fun! :)

Piedmont Writer said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with using British words when you speak, I use 'bloody hell' all the's when you talk like Madonna with a British ACCENT and you used to be from Jersey....that's when it's affectious (is that a word?)

I like their curse words much better because most of them don't sound like you're swearing and I can say them around my 5 year old -- Bugger off, ballocks, bloody (in front of anything).

And I don't happen to care who hears me, I live in the deep south and orginally from New England so they think I talk funny anyway.