March 14th, 2008

English Is

Y'all need to stop. Now.

This morning, to my horror, I discovered what I will hence forth refer to as Fangirl Southern. 

I will not name the fic or the author. The author has in fact written some very good stuff in a variety of fandoms (none of them IY) and I'd recommend several of them to anybody. 

However, the child writes one of the worst fake southern accents I've seen. It stirred thoughts of mayhem in my Cracker heart that the otherwise well plotted and original story could not quell. 

If you are not Southern and you decide that you must write about a Southern character then please, please, run it by someone who is Southern before you post. We're easy to find. To get you started in the right direction here are a few pointers. 

1. Y'all is plural. Always. It can be used when addressing a single individual but only when that person is being addressed as a representative of a group. Having a waitress tell a man who walks into her restaurant "Y'all sit down and I'll be right with you" is wrong. Having her tell the guy who's there to collect from the owner on a bill "I done told y'all he won't be here until after four" is right. Y'all in the second example does not refer to the bill collector but to the agency he represents.  Y'all is a contraction of "you all" the apostrophe therefore comes after the y. 

2. There is not one Southern accent. Some of us use a soft or absent R  sound  ("The wah is fah away") while others have a hard R and insert it into words that are not spelled with an R ("It'll all come out in the warsh"). The way we pronounce the pronoun "I" changes from region to region as well. We don't all use the "ah" sound. 

3. If you get 1 or 2 wrong you will immediately out yourself as a poser to any native of the South who reads your work.

4. All of this is available in articles online and in books on linguistics. Research dialects just like you would anything else you aren't familiar with. 

5. Just because some actor from New York or California talked a certain way when playing a Southerner does not mean HE did his research. Don't be lazy and get caught perpetuating a mistake. 

6. Avoid writing things in phonetic dialect as much as possible. It's annoying to a lot of people and gives you more rope to hang yourself with.