Marketing and promotion

Don’t We All Speaka-da Engleesh?

My books are Australian.

They should sound Australian? Shouldn’t they?

Lately I’ve been thinking about colloquialisms in my writing, because a wonderful Beta reader pointed them out, and I’ve realised I’m guilty of making quite a few.

For example from the opening scene of my WIP novella, The Goodbye Ride:

The name didn’t ring a bell.

Whatever he did for a crust.

“The rear shocks are shot to buggery.”

“You’re pulling my leg.”

I talk about “thongs” and “sneakers” and a “ute.” (Now everytime I see the word ‘thong’ I end up with a vision of Ali-G and his man-kini… see… it’s not pretty, is it!)

I’ve spent a lot of time around your average dinky-di blokes. This is how people I know talk. This is how my characters think, and talk, and they feel right when I write them. But what would an American reader make of my book? At what point does enjoyment of writing cease, because a reader needs to keep googling colloquialisms? Is this part of the reason I often hear that US readers tend to read US writers (more readily at least, than international authors unless they’re big names?)

I was lucky enough to have a lovely review for His Brand Of Beautiful from a writer and blogger in Florida, Victoria Pinder. She added some translation into her review, mentioning how the book begins with a “hen’s party”… (bachelorette party in the US). When I thanked Victoria for the translation, she said part of the enjoyment for her is reading in the local language. She wouldn’t have wanted to read an Australian-based book using American language or lingoism.

I had another funny experience on Saturday at Jennifer Crusie’s blog. It was an Easter conversation and in the comments, there were many mentions of “peeps.” Now to me, ‘peeps’ are Twitter followers and not much else, and as everyone was talking about cooking, microwaving and eating these ‘peeps’ – I asked the question: “What are peeps?”

I found out they are “little marshmallow chickens that are covered in some sort of spray dye and crystallized sugar.”

Eeewww. I kinda wished I hadn’t asked.

I then found out that in the US people make peeps into tableaux, and enter them into contests. One of the commenters even suggested some links! Seriously – check these out – they’re amazing!

So in the end, I learned something and felt good about the process.

I think I can have my peep and it too. I’m going to be more aware of colloquialism in my writing and do what I can to remove some of it, especially when it really won’t matter if the line was written in another way. But where colloquialisms add to character, or setting, I think I’ll vote to keep it. And I’ll hope that my reader gets involved enough not to let it stop her flow. And in the best case scenario, perhaps she will get a sense of our great Aussie culture in the process.

Now that would be nice, peeps! What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Don’t We All Speaka-da Engleesh?”

  1. Oops, just realised I commented on the FB post instead of here! lol. Anyway, agree with you 100%, Lily. Colloquialisms add much to character, but sometimes need to be toned down a little for overseas markets. “Less is more” in this case; some helps to establish character and the novel’s flavour without puzzling the reader with terms that stop the flow.

    Great post again.
    Cheers, Susanne

  2. I’m with you. My fave (that’s favourite) bit of advice is… everything in moderation. Another great post.

  3. I’m on a reading spree of historical romances at the moment, and it’s driving me crazy that they’re all set in England, but all written in American (*contemporary* American) English.
    I think it’s a pity American publishers and the American film industry refuse to let regional variations of the language in (they re-filmed scenes of The Castle before it was released in America, changing car brands and food to American varieties!). There’s a Harlequin series out at the moment called ‘Sydney Harbour Hospital’. But in America they released it as ‘Sydney Harbor’! Surely American readers can recognise the word with U in it – changing the spelling of a proper noun is downright insulting!
    We all know American English…

  4. But now I’m remembering when I lived in London and it was autumn and an Australian friend went to Marks and Spencer to buy a ‘skivvy’. She got yelled at because it was considered an insulting term for a servant… 🙂

  5. Hey Lily,
    Peeps! OMG! They do tableaux with them? I thought it was short for “people” LOL. Learn something new every day.

    I don’t even realise how much “Australianism” I use. When I’m with overseas friends, it shocks me every time they stop me because they can’t understand what I’m saying. But I think it’s great to have books that truly reflect our culture and aren’t all smoothed over to a global norm.

    And I’m late again commenting. Sorry. I can’t keep up with this year.

    Cate xo

  6. Don’t change it please. I think it adds to the story and maybe you could have a little authors note in the beginning of the book saying what they mean for the readers.

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