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Old 07-06-2012, 11:07 PM   #11
gmw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
I read a book a while ago where the English characters kept drinking tea every few minutes and said things like "Blimey" a lot.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Lake View Post
Mr. Ploppy has it right. Educated or not, there are language idioms, colloquialisms, verbal shorthand that define people from a particular region or nationality and are imperative for getting the character's voice right. People from other countries also quite often have different names for things. For example, to the British, a flashlight is a "torch", a truck is a "lorry", and a highway is a "carriage way". Or take cars for example. To them a hood is a "bonnet", and the truck is the "boot". Again, to use another example of localised word use, you can't expect a Canadian to say they're from "out yonder", but you can certainly expect someone from down south to say that. There's also the mannerisms, what they consider polite, rude, in some cases curse words, general expressions, etc. In short, to get a character of a defined nationality right, you have to ensure that all of the obvious expressions are visible to the reader. Ie, the things they expect. If you don't have it, you kill the story by shattering the ability to suspend belief.
I thought Mr Ploppy's response was tongue-in-cheek, I was going to agree that it is often very painful to see Australians portrayed in television and movies because of this tendency to take a few widely recognised mannerisms and exaggerate them out of all credibility.

And while you are certainly correct about different word usage in different regions, an outsider is rarely likely to get it exactly right - especially if you insist on considering "British" or "American" each as a single collection of idioms. Such aspects can be important to a story, but the importance varies with the type of book and its presentation. Sometimes exaggerated idioms are exactly right, but sometimes you're better off skipping them rather than getting them wrong.
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