Dialects resources

Dan Goodman dsgood at VISI.COM
Mon Mar 31 05:32:06 UTC 2003

> Date:    Sun, 30 Mar 2003 09:46:50 -0500
> From:    Patti Kurtz <pkurtz at HEIDELBERG.EDU>
> Subject: Dialects resources
> Hey everyone.  I belong to a writer's list serve and one writer is writing
> a historical young adult novel and is looking for a book  that contains
> what she calls "slang words and phrases for 1939-41 period in the U.S." The
> main character's parents are from Ohio and NY so she's going for a Midwest
> regional dialect from that time period.  Since it's young adult, her main
> character would be around 14-16 years old, if that helps.

I'm not a professional, nor do I play one on TV.  If what the experts on
this list say conflicts with what I say, go with what they say.

It's my understanding that children tend to talk mostly like the other
children they associate with.  The main character would probably usually
talk the way people in her community talk.  (Assuming that this is an
English-speaking community in the US or Canada.)

He/she would quite likely talk at least a bit differently at home.

This wasn't asked, but:  the parent from NY would speak differently
depending on from _where_ in NY.  The variations within New York City
probably wouldn't matter to most readers.  However, outside the
metropolitan area, you're in a different dialect area.

The same is probably true of the parent from Ohio.

Note that it's not only slang which varies from one part of the US to
another.  I've gotten laughed at for saying "courthouse" rather than
"court building".

Note that a writer could spend a lifetime getting such things just right
for a 2,000-word story, and several lifetimes getting them right for a

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