Dialect, context, and style are significant in your writing and to an audience. When you’re with a group of friends, do you intentionally “talk grammar” versus to if you have to stand before a judge or someone with authority?
Hopefully, your answer is “Jacqueline, it all depends on the context with my friends.” Context includes your surroundings and the way everyone does things around it.
Dialect and language help you communicate the way you want and intend to with people. And, sometimes you will consider reaching people where they are and speaking in a dialect, or language they understand.
Dialect, Language & Grammar
Does this mean you will be grammatically correct every time? No. Am I suggesting that you should write dialect with tons of grammar errors? Absolutely not.
I am asking you to consider that when writing fiction, sales copy or web copy, among others, you will sometimes use a dialect that is not 100% free of grammar.
According to www.literarydevice.com, “dialect is the language used by the people of a specific area, class, district, or any other group of people.”
“It involves the spelling, sounds, grammar, and pronunciation used by a particular group of people and it distinguishes them from other people around them.”
So, when using dialect in your writing, it helps to “illuminate” the context for your readers.
The usage of dialect and context are primarily found in fiction writing. But, I’d like to add that in our day-to-day conversations dialect, and the context shows real ways you communicate with people, especially culturally and in location.
Also, when writing for marketing purposes, you’ll use the language, and sometimes the dialect of your audience. Your market is part of a context as well. And the grammar will not be perfect.
Dialect, Minorities & Public Criticism
Allow me to use specifically Black minorities and our dialect.
For some, Black’s articulation lacks symmetry and ethical Americanized syntax.
But real dialogue should be an engaging experience that respects all regardless of dialect.
I created a graphic post with WordSwag not too long ago.
Upon posting it to my Instagram, a follower posed this question: “Do all Blacks write with grammar errors? I’m really curious. Is it a Black thing?”
My original post used a double negative.
Yes, with intention and passion.
It said, “Sometimes you just don’t know nothing else but to love, look beyond your own faults, and continue to meet needs.”
“Some of us will be wired this way for life. It’s not a curse. It’s love with a strong desire to live through you for the sake of others.”
In short, my response to the follower explained that my post had nothing to do with the color of skin. Instead, it was for people who are experiencing pain and still love hard in spite of.
Did I use the language or dialect of a person in pain? Yes, I did.
Some moments your writing will use dialect from a place of being real and authentic. When in emotional pain or just having fun, people are not thinking about what is said grammatically correct.
You may see the incorrection but understand its implication. Most Blacks undergo inner turmoil from lack of language acceptance due to articulation, dialect, tone, learning styles, reading, writing styles, vernacular, etc.
Dialect & Other Cultures
Dialects differ in many cultures. Does this mean one dialect is better than the other? Dialects are layered because every community speaks differently in context.
Unfortunately, the black dialect is deemed deconstructed based on socio-economic conditions and status.
Dialects from other cultures appear to be more acceptable than Blacks.
From economically disadvantaged areas to Higher Ed institutions, the vernacular of Hispanics, Asians, Indians, etc. are dialects that most American’s view as tolerance.
Because English is their second language, they are allowed to speak in a “new” English. However, when prejudice makeup enters the foil, the excuse for their “slang” is often related to speaking two languages.
Dialect in Works of Fiction
To dig further into Black dialect, I’d like to briefly examine a work of fiction: “We Beat The Streets” by The Three Doctors.
I will give the context and show how dialect is used by the authors intentionally.
Three Doctors tell their story about growing up in rough neighborhoods of Newark, NJ. They were surrounded by drugs, crime, gangs, and violence.
The Three Doctors had to “overcome obstacles like poverty and apathy and violence in their community.”
One way to face such challenges was by speaking the “Greek” of the streets.
The dialect is intentional to get students/readers to make connections and relate in many ways.
Dialect in the novel mirrors street vernacular. It shows a lack of education and poverty levels.
Thus, for survival and “community” sakes it demonstrates a “togetherness” and commonality.
Below is a passage from their book, “We Beat the Street.”
THE RAP YEARS “Man, we’re good!” George said when the video was over. Rameck, George, and Sampson were looking at a video that had been made the day before, during a campus Fun Day.
A video company called Fun Flicks had made video karaoke tapes for anyone who wanted to try. George, Rameck, and another rapper who called himself P. S. had recorded their own rap song.
“We could be professionals!” Rameck said.
“Don’t get carried away,” Sampson reminded them. “These rappers got money and agents and backing and all kinds of things we don’t have. You’re just some dudes who can put some words and beats together.”
“What we gonna call ourselves?” George asked. “We ain’t nothing but another tribe, trying to make it.”
“We Beat The Streets” Dialect Brief Analysis
As you can see, the title of the book, its cover and content purposely mirror the dialect or language and context of a specific culture.
These three doctors felt safe having conversations with each other. Their bond was stronger, unbreakable and didn’t have language barriers.
The Three doctors now have a formal education, which means their dialect has many layers.
They have a variety of their dialect and language. I believe this is key when communicating and writing.
Depending on the nature and context of what’s needed, you can shift to dialects necessary and be fitting for the occasion.
All dialects are unique and beautiful. The Hispanic population experience great difficulties understanding parts of speech.
Asians find it hard to understand gender usage. Koreans, in particular, do not have “his or him/she or her” in their language.
When speaking sometimes, they will identify the wrong gender title to an individual.
What matters most is this. Write the best way you can. Be creative. Be authentic even when undervalued.
Don’t let negative criticism or demeaning voices stop you from writing and communicating.