British slang

Kh
Khadrelt
Posts: 361
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:22 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: Utah, USA
Contact:

Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:28 pm Post

I'm currently working on a book that involves a British character. He's a bit eccentric. He spent most of his adult life working for a major criminal organization, mended his ways and turned himself in, and is now in prison. He grew up in Leeds, but has spent most of his life in London. Though not really rich, he has always been well-off.

He's the type of fellow who wouldn't bother with proper speech. Unfortunately, I'm not too familiar with British slang. I want to be able to do his dialog realistically, but the only exposure I've really had is from T.V., which I've been told doesn't portray the speech very realistically much of the time. So does anyone know a good source for studying up on this (short of spending time in England, which unfortunately I can't afford)?

User avatar
AmberV
Posts: 24307
Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 4:30 am
Platform: Mac + Linux
Location: Ourense, Galiza
Contact:

Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:25 pm Post

Well, first off, he is most decidedly a bloke, not a fellow!
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
“Whole sight, or all the rest is desolation.” —John Fowles

User avatar
KB
Site Admin
Posts: 20763
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 11:23 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: Truro, Cornwall
Contact:

Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:05 am Post

He probably hangs out in a pub smoking fags (well, before he got banged up, of course). Given that he's well off, he probably slums it occasionally by eating fish and chips from the local chippie, but will drink German lager rather than an old fashioned pint of ale. He will probably swear a lot. If he is from Leeds, his vowels may be flat; but then again maybe not as a good number of folk I've met from Leeds speak received pronunciation because they no doubt went to a public school (in England, "public schools" are actually private schools). How well off was he? If he was that well off, how did he end up in a criminal organisation?

Hmm... It's amazing. I'm from the North Midlands of England and have spent most of my adult life in London, but I am having a hard time thinking up slang. Must've been a long day. If you could provide the sort of words you want slang for, or sentences, my brain might start working...

Best,
Keith

User avatar
Eiron
Posts: 452
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:01 pm

Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:19 am Post

I'd be careful not to overuse it, but http://www.londonslang.com/ seems pretty extensive. I haven't heard much rhyming slang in a long time, but who knows - if your character is old enough...

Ma
Maria
Posts: 614
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:47 am

Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:34 am Post

del
Last edited by Maria on Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

da
dafu
Posts: 564
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:33 am
Platform: Mac
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Tue Feb 06, 2007 1:22 am Post

You might also want to look at http://www.theatrebooks.com/actors_acting/accents_dialects.html The series by Gillian Lane-Plescia is supposed to be quite good. The CDs are an hour with a variety of speakers on them. You may not hear much slang but it will give you a fine sense of speaking rhythms, etc.

Dave

User avatar
Eiron
Posts: 452
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:01 pm

Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:16 am Post

Good idea Dave, but avoid the Robert Blumenfeld, the accents are often atrocious - way off base. Dialect Accents by Gillian Lane-Plescia is more reliable, though imperfect. We always lock actors in a room - or a pub - with a native speaker. Since your work is for the page, you might benefit more from reading fiction by Brits set in the milieu your character comes from. It's not theft, it's research. You should also be able to get your hands on transcripts of interviews with prisoners in English jails. Go to the source.

Kh
Khadrelt
Posts: 361
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:22 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: Utah, USA
Contact:

Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:23 am Post

KB wrote:If he was that well off, how did he end up in a criminal organisation?


Poverty is not a prerequisite for crime. Many of the worst criminals in history were comfortably well-off, or even filthy rich. If this guy lived where I do, he'd be raking in about $200 grand a year. I'm not sure how much that would be in other countries.

KB wrote:If you could provide the sort of words you want slang for, or sentences, my brain might start working...


Mostly what he does is order people around. A couple of his new crew are friends of his, but most he hardly knows. Also I need to know how he would refer to foreign members of his crew—Americans, Chinese, Russians, and Australians, specifically.

A sample sentance in plain American might be, "Your American friends have arrived, boys. Go grab them and bring them back here, and make it quick." That sort of thing.

Eiron wrote:I haven't heard much rhyming slang in a long time, but who knows - if your character is old enough...


He's about sixty years old. That website has a lot of good stuff, thanks for that and the other suggestions! Hopefully I won't slaughter his speech too badly. :) :)

cr
cruxdestruct
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:45 pm
Contact:

Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:55 am Post

Eiron wrote:You should also be able to get your hands on transcripts of interviews with prisoners in English jails


That's gaols, of course. Innit.

User avatar
Eiron
Posts: 452
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:01 pm

Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:57 am Post

That's funny, I came this close to spelling it that way. :)

da
dafu
Posts: 564
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:33 am
Platform: Mac
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:32 am Post

Now, if you really want some fun (oh dear, distraction), go to a used bookstore and pick-up some of Leslie Charteris' "The Saint" books. No, not the movie, not the TV series, the early books. They read well and there are simply delicious bits of 20's & 30's English slang in them.

Dave

sp
spinningdoc
Posts: 241
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:18 am

Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:24 am Post

What class is he? What class does he aspire to? That, more than money will determine how he speaks, or more interestingly, how he wants people to think he speaks....

Kh
Khadrelt
Posts: 361
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:22 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: Utah, USA
Contact:

Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:39 pm Post

He's used to being in a position of leadership. All of his crew refer to him as the Governor (which some people have told me should be written 'Gov'na' and others have said should be 'Guv'nor.' But I'm not certain that's even a proper usage of the term at all. Would a different word be better?)

And speaking of 'crew,' how would he refer to his underlings as a whole? Right now I just have him calling them his 'lads.'

Thanks for humoring a Britilitterate American!

Kh
Khadrelt
Posts: 361
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:22 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: Utah, USA
Contact:

Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:39 pm Post

Whoops, duplicated my last post, sorry.
Last edited by Khadrelt on Tue Feb 06, 2007 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sp
spinningdoc
Posts: 241
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:18 am

Tue Feb 06, 2007 5:48 pm Post

Or more likely 'guv', but it's becoming a bit of a cliche, especially in police dramas. 'Boss' would be another possiblity - either without the 'the'.

Class is important though Khad. If he was Yorkshire working class (and he could be that and fairly well off), he'd be way different, and his authority and aggression would come out very differently, than if he was Yorkshire upper class. And he could be poor in both cases.

Welcome to the English class system....