VS in dialog (correction)

Mark Sacks msacks at THEWORLD.COM
Sun Jan 6 21:03:10 UTC 2008

Oops--error caught in rereading. For some reason I turned "that's" into
"where's"; I apologize for the mistake. However, my examples, mutatis
mutandis, still seem appropriate; I don't think an actual person would put
a "said" phrase at the end of a sentence. In writing, both forms seem
equally good.

Marc Sacks
msacks at theworld.com

>>He notes that both of the following constructions appear in English
>>"'That's my car', said the Dutchman."
>>"'That's my car', the Dutchman said."
>>but has the impression that the former ("reversed-style") is more
>>common in older texts, while the latter ("regular-style") is dominant in
>>more recent works.
> I have no idea which is/was more common. Both are frequent and
> ordinary now AFAIK. I just glanced at a few recent novels and I saw
> plenty of examples of both patterns ... as well as others, e.g.,
> <<The Dutchman said, "That's my car.">>, <<The Dutchman said: "That's
> my car.">>.
> Some authors seem to avoid these formulae [almost] completely,
> identifying the speaker (when necessary) by means of adjacent
> material. E.g., <<"That's my car." The Dutchman's voice echoed
> through the garage.>>, <<The Dutchman finally spoke. "That's my car.">>.
>>[He's concerned specifically about "X said" vs. "said
>>X".] He asks, then, the following questions:
>>"a) is it strange-sounding or pretentious to use reversed-style dialogue
>>markers, that is, something frowned upon in modern English? (Read:
>>Don't do it.)
> Generally: no.
> However:
> (1) "Regular style" is usual with pronouns. <<"That's my car," he said.>>
> (2) "Reversed style" seems more appropriate for a speaker identified
> by a long expression. <<"That's my car," said a tall blond Dutchman
> wearing a baseball cap.>>
>>b) does it carry some sort of archaic feel, which arguably could be used
>>in my story (that is, my Natives use the reversed form and the
>>Newcomers the other), or would it just be confusing or seem as a rip-off
>>of someone already having done exactly that as an
>>informational/emotional carrier?
> I believe it carries hardly any systematic feel at all in the
> original example and ones like it. I suspect most readers of fiction
> will not notice the difference at all (I surely don't).
>>c) are there geographical differences related to this practice?
> I don't know. Usually I don't know or care where a fiction author is
> located ... or is from.
> -- Doug Wilson
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