Brizzle Mates

“Earnest, Chams. I’m in love. You gotta see this bird. Gert mint, she is. Beautiful, smart.”

“You mean the ugly scutler from the Triangle? The one Geordy called Four-pint Patty on account how many he’d have to down before he’d consider shagging her?”

“Not her. This is a new bird. Neighborhood girl from up on City Road.”

“What hell you doing up there?”

“I didn’t say I met her there. I said she lives there.”

“Where’d you meet her, innit?”

“At Jason Donervan. I had an appetite for cheesy chips. She in the queue was in front of me.”

“What’s she look like, then?”

“Red hair. Proper lush body, all in leather.”

“What’s her name, then?”

“Dunno yet.”

“Dunno her name, but you know where she lives? What, you follow her home?”


“Ha! I wage you never even spoke her!”

“Saving that for next time, mind.”


What Pegman Saw: Bristol

I love how  language varies so  much from place to place, especially in the UK. Manchester, Birmingham, and Bristol (among many others) all have accents and slang expressions unique to the people who live and work there. I try to convey a sense of place and language without resorting to spelled-out dialect (which according to Mark Twain often has the effect of making it seem like the characters are all trying to talk alike but are failing miserably).


Add Yours
  1. Kelvin M. Knight's blog

    You have been to Brizzle, haven’t you, Josh. The first time I was there I asked this proper lush barmaid for half a Hobgoblin. She said, what a goblin, my lover? I was mortified. She just smiled and blew me a kiss.

  2. Joy Pixley

    I really enjoyed the subcultural, almost foreign, feel of the dialect in this one. Although content-wise, I’m glad I’m not the bird this chap is stalking…

    I’m especially glad that you didn’t resort to spelling out the accents, which I find distracting and extremely annoying. I wish I had the link for this great article I read (great because it agreed with me, but argued more coherently than I could) decrying the practice. It included some examples of how you’d have to spell out dialogue for native English speakers (that is, people who have “no” accent), if you wanted to accurately portray how they were pronouncing the words.

    • J Hardy Carroll

      Yeah, a lot can be done with cadence and sentence construction. It’s especially difficult when you’re looking at the American Self or a German accent. Usually it just looks and sounds dumb, and it’s often wrong to boot. If you want to make someone sound German, you can say “Of course in Germany we do not have this.”

      • Joy Pixley

        I agree. And yes, just pointing out that the person is speaking with a German accent is usually good enough. At least, that works for real-life settings. In my fantasy setting, there’s no such thing as an accent the reader already knows, so it means starting from scratch. Mostly I try to use other characters’ thoughts about or reactions to the accent to get it across.

        Another example: I recently critiqued a few chapters of a sci-fi novel, and the writer had all but one of the characters speaking with strong accents, and spelling out the pronunciation. It was painful to read. But it turned out that they were from the local world. I pointed out that if so, that would be the “normal” accent, and the one other guy would sound like he was pronouncing things funny.

  3. JS Brand

    I enjoyed the story Josh, although mates 1 and 2 seem like complete twats and unreconstructed neanderthals. I’m also a big fan of dialect, but often worry when I try to write in dialect for imaginary American characters, as there’s a danger of being too generic or, worse still, miles off target. Full marks for making what seems to be a good stab at Bristol twang.

    I’m still trying to work out what Chams means, or is short for.

  4. prior..

    Enjoyed being privy to this convo and liked the culture lingo: ugly scutler
    and in a way – this is timeless – guys checking out gals and needing fresh options – or hoping to make connections

  5. Lynn Love

    Ah, you’ve no idea how much I enjoyed this! Being an adopted Bristolian I found so much pleasure seeing lush, gert, mind at the end of a sentence and usually pronounce (moind!), mention of the Triangle (where I used to work), City Road … You’re right about the UK having many regional accents, though most are gradually eroding. When I lived in Suffolk (East of England) the older people had a distinctive accent similar in some ways to here in the Southwest but now the younger folk all sound like Greater Londoners with an Aussie upward inflection. Brizzle folk are proud of their accent (there’s a local company that makes tee shirts with regional slang on the front so hopefully it will last a while yet.
    As for your story – full marks my babber! Great dialogue and a jaunty tone. A perfect fit to the story.

      • Lynn Love

        Yes, babber is great, though less widely used now I think. Something the Bristolians do a lot is put an s at the end of verbs, so you often hear ‘I wants it’ or ‘I goes there’. The most baffling phrase when we first moved here was ‘where’s it to?’ or ‘where are you to?’ They just put ‘to’ at the end of the sentence for no apparent reason. Colourful, but confusing! Thanks for going the extra mile with your reasearch – great stuff

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