mediaevalist: (WTS)
All right, now I realise that some people try and make their characters 'authentic' if they are playing characters from somewhere on one of the British Isles by giving them 'accents' when they type out speech in a chatroom or some other. But personally, it's a pet-peeve of mine, particularly when it's not really very accurate and those of us who can understand 'Auld Keech' can't understand a single word they type. Like so:

::his attenton jerked back to ****:: Sire...I dun thin' tis a thin 'toll ta b'dune f'me

Tis nae t'duty o'oll tha took t'collin, t'protection o'oll within the kingdom ?

Or how about this:

May'aps I dun know oll tha ye ere privy ta...but.....

No, people don't really talk like that in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and rural England. They certainly didn't speak that way in the Middle Ages.

Perhaps it's unfair of me and perhaps I'm being too hard on people, but I really cannot for the life of me understand why people seem to think that this constitutes good RP. But believe it or not, the authenticity factor is not what bothers me this time.

It's that I can't understand what they are trying to say.

This is not good when you're playing a character who is supposed to understand what it is that the 'accented' character is saying (as in, both characters are from the same country/region) but you as the player cannot decipher their 'creative' spelling. It’s disastrous in any online format where understanding written communication is crucial, but even in offline games when the accent is being spoken, it sounds less like a Gaelic speaker and more like a person suffering a head injury.

What is especially unacceptable, though, is when accents appear in letters written to other characters. There is no excuse for that. None.

So what is the 'accented' character to do in order to set himself/herself apart from other characters?

First off, decide if it's really all that appropriate to type in dialect. If you have a game that's set in a small village in mediaeval Ireland where everyone shares the same accent, (and realistically would not even be speaking English so that your RP would be 'subtitled') there really isn't much of a reason for it. Contrary to conventional RP wisdom, it doesn't add 'flavour'. All this does is detract from the RP, especially when the characters are supposed to understand one another but the players don't.

Second, rethink how you want your character to interact with other characters. If you've decided that you need to set your character apart from others but you still want your character to be understood, typing in dialect probably isn't the best way to go about it. Instead, establish in your pose or when you are describing your character to other players that your character, for example, 'speaks with a thick Orkney accent'. (It helps to establish the specific location your character is from. Remember: there is more than just one 'Irish', 'Scottish', 'Welsh', and 'English' accent!)

Finally, if you decide that you still want to proceed with an accent, make sure it's authentic! (For example, Gaelic speech doesn't involve apostrophe abuse: various writers have used it to denote a full breath stop while the pronunciation shifts back to the speaker's soft palate, otherwise known as the glottal stop) This isn't out of snobbery: it's to establish a spoken form of language that is recognisable to characters who should be able to understand that particular dialect. If you're playing a character from Aberdeen, another character from Aberdeen should be able to understand what your character is saying. Using the proper dialect and understanding how it works is really the only way that is able to be achieved on a relatively universal level.

June 2015



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