I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I’m from the south. We talk a little bit slower here, because there’s no rush. Maybe we forget a g, every now and then. People in the south speak with an accent, but so do people from Boston -- whom I cannot understand even when I really try. Writing an accent is really an art form, and it’s really easy to do badly.
Like the Way She Talks
“Ow, eez, ye-ooa san, is e? Wal. fewd dan y' d-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to spawl a pore gel's flahrzn than ran awy athaht pyin. Will ye-oo py me f'them?”
No, I didn’t just accidentally sit on my keyboard to create that mess. That’s actual text from an actual book. It’s an accent. Cockney, to be specific. Can you tell what it says? Because I can.
“Oh, he’s your son, is he? Well, if you’d done your duty by him as a mother should, he’d know better than to spoil a poor girl’s flowers, then run away without paying. Will you pay for them?”
It gets really tricky to write an accent well, and personally I think the example above could be done a whole lot better. In this example, however, the language is meant to look and sound extreme. Usually, one hopes, you’ll be writing accents that aren’t as complex as this.
When I write accents, I find that simple is usually better. Let’s re-write the example as an example of how it can be done:
“Oh, e’s y’son, izze? Well if ya’d done y’duty by ‘im as a mither shild, e’d know better’n to spioll a poor gel’s flahers, thin run away ‘thot paying. Will y’pay fir them?”
When you’re writing an accent, read it out loud. Read it again. Now read it again. Keep reading it, and make sure it’s spelled exactly a it sounds in your head. Cut out extra letters where they aren’t needed to keep it simple. And remember that it’s always easier to write without using an accent at all. But if you do, make sure that you’re still spelling y’all correctly.