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#1 Madseasongirl

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:29 AM

Hi everyone!

 

I have a sixteen yr old female character who has lived in the south her entire life. She's been bounced around from place to place(currently lives in tx), but those places have always been southern states.

 

I was just wondering if there are any popular phrases or words or even mannerisms I could throw in there to make my character more authentic. I've tried google, but I don't want her to turn out cliched and dated.

 

Anything would help and I thank you in advance!

 

Oh, I also have a teenage surfer beach bum so any tips there would be welcome as well. :)


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#2 K9Trainer

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 07:03 AM

Can't help you with unique teenage slang, but, as a Damn Yankee in the Virginia Piedmont (a Yankee comes from up north, a Damn Yankee stays), I can share one thing I've learned:

 

Whether "y'all" is singular or plural depends where you are.  Those places where it's singular, the plural is "all y'all."  'Round here, it's plural, but in East Texas, where I worked a number of years ago, it was singular.

 

Just sayin'.

 

Ron

 



#3 LucidDreamer

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 07:12 AM

It would vary considerably, depending on where she picked up most of her accent.

Also, mountain accents in the southern states are NOT the same as Tidewater or coastal accents.

 

Is there a more specific region your character would have lived in when she was developing language/speech patterns?

 

One thing people do in North Carolina (it drives me nuts, by the way) is to drop the "s" off of "cents". So instead of something costing "thirty cents" it's "thirty cent."

 

In the mountains of Virginia (and North Carolina, to some extent) people add "R's" to words (something of a holdover from their British Isles heritage, I suspect). I grew up saying "worsh the clothes" for "wash the clothes" for example. (I don't do that anymore, unless extremely tired or stressed. :smile: )



#4 dennism

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 08:12 AM

@ Lucid... lyric from Old Dan Tucker:

 

Supper's over

Dishes wa-rshed

All that's left

Is a piece of squa-rsh.

 

Yankees seem to think my usage of "supper" is quaint. We've seen good and bad portrayals of southerners in the movies, I think the worst - and by that I mean fingernails on the chalkboard bad - was Martin Sheen's Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg. He's a terrific actor, but just didn't make it work. It's a risk - winning is one step forward, failure is three steps back.

 

I was in a community theater production of "The Best Little Whorehouse..." and I figured out that people would think I was from Texas if I just played it loud and obnoxious.



#5 Madseasongirl

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 04:56 PM

Thanks everyone!

 

To answer your question Lucid, she's spent the most time growing up in and around Corpus Christi TX with her grandparents, but when she was with her dad, she lived anywhere from FL to AZ. I don't want to muddle up the dialogue so much it seems like a made up language--dropping and adding letters--so I guess I was looking for things more along the line of Ron's suggestions.

 

Since she was mostly raised by her grandparents, I guess it would be okay for some of the things she says and does to be a bit dated. Her grandparents grew up in OK though.

 

Bah. I don't know. Even if you have suggestions for things NOT to do, I'll be much obliged :)
 


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#6 AQCrew

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 06:07 AM

Whether "y'all" is singular or plural depends where you are.  Those places where it's singular, the plural is "all y'all."  'Round here, it's plural, but in East Texas, where I worked a number of years ago, it was singular.

 

 

 Damn fine explanation y'all gave there, Trainer.  Man, oh, man... all y'all sure know how to keep it real plain and simple.



#7 LucidDreamer

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 07:16 AM

Hmmm... Texas is not my area of expertise. (I actually don't consider Texas the South. I just consider it -- Texas  :smile:)  I think the accents there are quite different than say, Virginia, the Carolinas, or Georgia.

 

As for expressions -- if this is contemporary, I can't really think of expressions that would be different than the typical teen. With TV and all the social media, it seems like everyone uses the current expressions that are common across the country. I know the kids around here do, and so do my niece and nephew in Virginia.  (And there's no difference in their use of expressions than in those used by my nieces in California).

 

My grandparents and mother used some "mountain" expressions, and I know some, but the next generation -- nope.



#8 Thrash

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 11:05 AM

One way to make t obvious that a teen grew up all over the south (other than messin' 'round with 'postrophes) is food bias.  If she's landed in Texas but spent any time in TN or South Carolina, she's going to have some conflicting feelings about BBQ.  If she's spent time in LA, she's not going to care two shakes worth about BBQ but will have strong feelings about Cajun vs Mexican and BREAD.  There's a lot of regional specific jargon associated with  food that could be useful to show her history and which place she misses most.

 

messing (or messin') around, by the way, is a biggun' all  across the south.   also, in texas, 'biggun' is a fairly well understood spelling of the slushy 'big one' which is said pretty often, meaning both literal size and social import.

Dropped Gs in -ing words, especially gerunds.  

fixin' to means "about to"  

'come round' & 'come by the house' 

These aren't teen-specific, but they're pretty widespread. Also there are regional maps to see what people call things like soda, movie theaters, etc.



#9 Madseasongirl

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 12:43 PM

Thanks ladies!

 

Never gave the food thing thought before, so thanks for that.

 

And yeah, I'm from Pittsburgh, so I was hoping the teen expressions would be similar across the board. Come round and fixin to are great suggestions too. I just wanted a few things to come poking through to give it a more authentic feel. I just didn't want to end up with my character doing things or saying things she shouldn't be. I think I'll throw in a few older expressions too, since she's so close to her grandparents. I don't think it would be too far of a stretch.


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#10 LucidDreamer

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 02:09 PM

"He/she hasn't got the sense God gave a groundhog" is one of my favorites!



#11 Madseasongirl

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 02:40 PM

Ah! See, stuff like that! lol I would love for little expressions to just pop out of my character's mouth every once in awhile. I did get some from the internet, but I didn't know if any of them were still used. Even if it's from an older generation, that's fine...perfect actually. I want my character to be a sort of typical teenager, but I want the influence of her grandparents to be apparent as well. :smile:


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#12 LucidDreamer

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 04:00 PM

Well, my grandfather used to also say -- "He's so lucky, he can find gold under a cowpile."

 

:biggrin:



#13 Jeanne

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 04:41 PM

My mother, who was from Alabama, used to say:

 

"What a life without a wife and 17 kids."

 

Another favorite: "Dumb as a mule hit in the head with an axe."

 

Whenever she swore, she always added, "Pardon my French."

 

I don't know if these are uniquely Southern or just odd. :biggrin:

 

Jeanne



#14 Madseasongirl

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 07:16 PM

Awesomeness. :smile:  I wish I had my own vault of funny little expressions.

 

I had another question-- is that whole, "southern belle/southern charm" a thing of the past? Although, I don't even know if TX would even be a part of that. Whenever I've seen Texans portrayed, they're always loud and cocky and "everything's bigger in Texas" mumbo jumbo.

 

Maybe I should just go for the subtle approach and not over do it, because I feel like if I do, I'll shoot myself in the foot by trying to be real and come out being cliche and comical instead. 

 

I'll def have to use the groundhog and mule lines though. They describe one of my characters nicely. :)


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#15 spauff

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 08:48 PM

I don't know if "southern charm" is a thing of the past, really. I live in Georgia and lots of people here still say "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir" to things. (I don't always because I was raised by Yankees)

 

"Bless your heart" -- can be an insult or an endearment, depending on the inflection/context, but usually it's a subtle insult.

 

Also, where I live a buggy = a shopping cart



#16 Kerry Ann

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 12:53 PM

Have you read many other books taking place in that area?  A Southern writer with a book taking place in Alabama, for example, will load her dialog AND text with regional words. (Sometimes to the point I whip out my y'alls more frequently IRL). Sometimes, the voice has much to do with pacing.

 

But then again, teens will talk completely different than their parents and their grandparents. A great example: Joshlyn Jackson's A Grown Up Kind of Pretty. It's told in three POVs from three different generations. J.J. said each age group uses totally different Southern-isms, and keeping them straight was a challenge.

 

Find some books to give you ideas.

 

Good luck!



#17 Madseasongirl

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 02:09 PM

Good advice Kerry Ann. I guess I was being lazy since she's sort of a secondary character, but I should put more effort into it (no sense in doing it if I can't do it right).

 

My MS doesn't actually take place in a southern state; I just wanted to make sure one of my character's southern roots shine through every once in awhile. I'll definitely have to check out a few current books though because that is a good idea.

 

@ spauff: So glad to hear young people still say ma'am and sir, because if not, I'd have to go take all of them out of my MS!

 

(All) Ya'll have been so helpful! :smile:


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#18 Lanette Kauten

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 07:43 PM

I've lived in Texas all my life, and I have a 16yo daughter. However, because this state is so large, there are differences in the various regions. I've always lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, which has a heavy mid-western influence. Most of us in this area have a mid-western accent. I've never been to Corpus Christie, but I do know that there's a heavy Mexican influence in south Texas.

 

As far as teen slang, it's not a good idea to rely on that no matter where you place the teen because it'll date your book. What I can tell you is y'all and ain't are words. Chunk/chunked is southern for chuck/chucked. The past tense of sneak is snuck. Many Texans have a tendency to be redundant. Examples: past history, boar hog, yellow jaundice, etc.



#19 Madseasongirl

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 06:22 AM

Thank you much Lanette.

 

It's so hard to pinpoint things since she's moved around so much, but it is true most of her quirks come from TX and her Okie influences from her grandparents. Maybe I'll just stick to the "ya'lls", "aint's", "ma'ams" and "sirs", and an expression or two...

 

I guess I'll figure it out, but you all have been a huge help, so thanks again everyone :) You've given me tons to think about.


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#20 Thrash

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 08:56 PM

The southern belle thing is still around in rural areas and with people with old money.  






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