Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

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Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by alongwaltz » Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:44 pm

I'm Canadian. I'm writing a comic book series with a character from Manchester. I cannot for the life of me write him so that he sounds British without it coming across as a parody (this is not a comedy series) or just inconsistent/unbelievable.

Anyone got any advice for me? Tips?

Or just want to offer their "translating" services?

You'd have to be fairly familar with both British English and American English but I don't think that should be too impossible to find in the 21st century world.

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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by roundbitsofplastic » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:47 pm

have you tried watching 24 hour party people? find a torrent with that on and you'll be away. or,. i'm pretty sure coronation street is on canadian telly nowdays, give that a go.
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by soft revolution » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:55 pm

Manchester gets all the characters! I can help if you make him from Birmingham...
And by me, I mean, Flexo.

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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by roundbitsofplastic » Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:19 pm

or the black country
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by Sootyzilla » Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:35 pm

alongwaltz wrote:I'm Canadian. I'm writing a comic book series with a character from Manchester. I cannot for the life of me write him so that he sounds British without it coming across as a parody (this is not a comedy series) or just inconsistent/unbelievable.

Anyone got any advice for me? Tips?
Is he supposed to sound British in general, or specifically Mancunian? How important is it that the reader is reminded of his background through things he says?

I tend to think you should just write him and then have a native Brit/Mancunian check his dialogue – it's a lot easier for them to say "well, someone from Manchester wouldn't say that..." than for you to navigate the many many British regional accents (which often also have connotations of class).
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by alongwaltz » Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:49 pm

Sootyzilla wrote:
alongwaltz wrote:I'm Canadian. I'm writing a comic book series with a character from Manchester. I cannot for the life of me write him so that he sounds British without it coming across as a parody (this is not a comedy series) or just inconsistent/unbelievable.

Anyone got any advice for me? Tips?
Is he supposed to sound British in general, or specifically Mancunian? How important is it that the reader is reminded of his background through things he says?

I tend to think you should just write him and then have a native Brit/Mancunian check his dialogue – it's a lot easier for them to say "well, someone from Manchester wouldn't say that..." than for you to navigate the many many British regional accents (which often also have connotations of class).
My thoughts exactly. I spent a couple hours today doing searches on google and wikipedia and looking up films set in Manchester, and reading interviews with Badly Drawn Boy and New Order, and reading general sites documenting pronunciation differences in British and American English and none of it has made it any easier for me to write something and go "oh yeah, that sounds Britisher."


I had selected Manchester, I think, because of Joy Division, The Smiths, etc. but really the actual city he's from isn't particularly important. The general thing is that he's from England. For the sake of the argument, he could be from anywhere in England. The other thing is that he's lived in Canada for a good ten years or more so having a really thick accent and using particular vernacular wouldn't really make a ton of sense either.

I more or less just want something in the dialogue to let the reader know/remember that he is from England, so that he doesn't sound just like all the characters who were born and raised in Toronto.

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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by Gordon » Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:58 pm

Is he the anti-me!?

If so he'd probably mainly mumble.

(and say "cor, blimey, mairy porpins!")
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by Uncle Ants » Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:18 pm

alongwaltz wrote: My thoughts exactly. I spent a couple hours today doing searches on google and wikipedia and looking up films set in Manchester, and reading interviews with Badly Drawn Boy and New Order, and reading general sites documenting pronunciation differences in British and American English and none of it has made it any easier for me to write something and go "oh yeah, that sounds Britisher."
I think you may have a bit of a problem in that there are a lot of (very) different British accents and I doubt a north American audience would make a lot of sense of most of them written down.

I'd choose a British accent they may be familiar with from film or something and use that. I dunno - think the Artful Dodger from Oliver! or John Lennon.
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by roundbitsofplastic » Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:30 pm

i've got it! make the character say "colour" and spell it all odle worldy- you know, with a 'u'. no one'll be able to miss that

*ahem*
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by alongwaltz » Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:04 am

Uncle Ants wrote:I think you may have a bit of a problem in that there are a lot of (very) different British accents and I doubt a north American audience would make a lot of sense of most of them written down.

I'd choose a British accent they may be familiar with from film or something and use that. I dunno - think the Artful Dodger from Oliver! or John Lennon.
Ugh, this is the conundrum I'm facing.

The guy at the comic shop recommended the series Cerebus for studying how to write a British accent but the examples in that book were just parodies of the Beatles, Stones, and Thatcher and done in an over-the-top comedy way which is decidedly not what I want.

It seems like my options are either subtletly to the point that it's unnoticeable or seeming parody. Unfortunately I might have to just settle for the former.

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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by Uncle Ants » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:44 am

Yes, I see what you mean. You don't want the character to sound like Dick Van Dyke. Mind you it has to be said that Mick Jagger uses a parody British accent anyway and so does Thatcher.

What's the character's background?
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by hayleygerms » Sat Jun 13, 2009 12:45 pm

You could make him a Scouser and all you'd need to do then is have him saying "la" after every sentence.
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by alongwaltz » Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:19 pm

Uncle Ants wrote:Yes, I see what you mean. You don't want the character to sound like Dick Van Dyke. Mind you it has to be said that Mick Jagger uses a parody British accent anyway and so does Thatcher.

What's the character's background?
Born and raised in Manchester. Average enough childhood. Orphaned around age 12. Ran away and came to Canada where he lived on the streets. About age 27 now.

Which is why I'm telling myself it won't be a big deal if I just decide to not do any sort of accent. I figure fifteen years in a certain environment is bound to change the way anyone talks. I'm sure if I lived in Australia for a decade and a half I'd probably sound different at the end than I do now.

I kind of like the idea that he retreats back into British dialects in times of stress too. It has entertaining possibilities.

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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by indiansummer » Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:55 am

snorkachu wrote:You could make him a Scouser and all you'd need to do then is have him saying "la" after every sentence.
*Rolls eyes*

Personally i think that you'd be best off not trying to write an accent. Perhaps throw in phrases typical to Manchester or whatever, but don't try to write the accent. Otherwise you end up with that Martin Amis/Will Self sorta thing, where all the middle class people speak with plain text and the 'wurh-kin clahss-iz' speak in some incomprehensible dialect. Best not to imply that one particular accent is 'correct' (so to speak)...

It's not the type of thing i normally read, but i thought the way Garth Ennis wrote Cassidy in the Preacher series was pretty good, for the most part. As long as it's established where the character's from, you don't need to rely on anything other than the odd simple phrase to get the message across. Subtlety over sledgehammers, i reckon. You don't want to end up in a 'Daphne from Frasier' situation where she's always saying what things are called in Britain, whilst we all watch at home thinking 'no they aren't, and that's not even a Manchester accent'. Just my two cents.

If he's lived in Canada since he's 12 though, i'd wager there wouldn't be much Mancunian left in his speech patterns at all.
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by Wheatabeat » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:29 am

alongwaltz wrote: Born and raised in Manchester. Average enough childhood. Orphaned around age 12. Ran away and came to Canada where he lived on the streets. About age 27 now.
He'll probably sound South African now then.
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by Gordon » Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:57 pm

indiansummer wrote: If he's lived in Canada since he's 12 though, i'd wager there wouldn't be much Mancunian left in his speech patterns at all.
Personal experience would lead me to believe this is not correct.
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by indiansummer » Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:05 pm

Really? Well, ok... i have no personal experience of this for myself.

i do know some people who moved away from Liverpool at the age of 12, and came back with nary a trace of northern English pronunciation. Perhaps it varies.

But ok, i'm gonna hold my hands up and say you'd know more about that than i.
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by Gordon » Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:14 pm

I agree with the "don't write an accent" tips. It comes out really dick van dyke. I'm not sure of any good manchester phrases, though. Perhaps "Tony Wilson was a cunt?"
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by indiansummer » Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:18 pm

Gordon wrote:I'm not sure of any good manchester phrases, though. Perhaps "Tony Wilson was a cunt?"
Ah, now i think that one really is a Liverpudlian phrase.
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Re: Mancunian accents, Manchester dialects, etc. Help please.

Post by alongwaltz » Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:18 am

Yeah, I came to the decision of no emphasis on accent, if only because it does seem to imply that he sounds strange whereas everyone else talks normal. I sound slightly different than my friends and slightly different than my sisters. To put an emphasis accent on one of them and not on anyone else wouldn't make sense.

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