Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ya'll Talk Real Pretty

So, here's a question for the masses: when I'm writing dialogue beween two Oklahomans, should it be?

Now, I realize that many of us grew up in the suburbs and thus have pretty generic, vaguely Midwestern accents. (And, of course, we can blame this blessing on the best equalizer of them all: T.V., the most loving and awesome babysitter on the planet! FYI, if you can sing at least one line of the theme song from Charles in Charge, then you can't place youself above this generalization.)

Still, despite our similarities with other slow-speaking Southerners, we have a few special qualities of speech. Yes, yes, we all drop our g's. Example: We are never, never going to the store; we're goin'. And we aren't talking to our Papas; we're talkin'. But what other Oklahoma-isms make us special? Oh, hell, if ya'll have to ask, then I don't think I'm gonna tell ya.

See? (And before you get all huffy with me, ask yourself this: have you ever told someone that you were "fixin'" to do something? $20 says you have.)

So...what do I do with this pecularity in my dialogue?

Of course, I'm not going to make my characters discuss the tars* on the car. That kind of talk is for my Papa, who supposedly picked cotton and still hordes canned food as though he were preparing for nuclear winter.

But maybe there are less dramatic boundaries? Do my Southeastern Oklahoman characters speak with correct grammar and punctuation, or are they a little more authentic? Does "authentic" Oklahoman speech verge on cheesy? You tell me!

*FYI, "Tars" means "tires," in Oklahomaspeak. As in: "Would you nice group of people please help me place these tires on my car?." Or, translated: "Ya'll folks gonna help me get these tars on my car?"


  1. What is even more disturbing than the "Oklahomian Speak" is the "Oklahomian Eats"! If it can be fried, ya'll will fry it! Jeff gets it honestly, he really does! I am only up to about Chapter 17 of your manuscript (loving every page!) but I am really hoping to see some reference to at least one of the fine "gourmet" options Oklahoma has to offer! Jeff would LOVE a Del Rancho shout out!!! If not this one, maybe the sequil.

  2. I agree with Krissy. A Del Rancho shout out is a must! But you must go further. Their chicken fried steak sandwich is not only a staple to the Oklahoman diet, but requires the resistance of a reformed crack-head. I've lived in Dallas for 6 years and have finally gotten over its cravings.....until now. Thanks Krissy!