🧐 Lamé without the é would be lame. So lame. 🧐

🧐 Brûlée shorn of those frills on the vowels would be brulee. Who’d want to eat that? It sounds like something they fed Oliver Twist in the foundling home. 🧐

See? I can do accents.

Players in both Meet Me at the Hanging Tree and The First Guerrilla speak Spanish from time to time. Spanish words have weird bits stuck to the letters.

¡Viva la revolución!

No problem, I thought, the publisher will sort that out.

Silly me.
Two reasons:
1. They don’t
2. I’m the publisher.

I suppose ‘2’ disproves ‘1’, doesn’t it? But you know what I mean.

After extensive research — I asked one of my writer pals on Scribophile, ta Robin — I discovered that accented vowels lurk in ‘emojis & symbols’ under Edit in Scrivener. 😎 Every word-processing package is different. For Word, it’s Symbols under Insert. You’re welcome.

I’m skilled in real life accents, too.

I have a go at the local lingo whenever we’re overseas. To the abject horror of my loved one, I turn on an exaggerated impersonation. Think Pancho Villa for Spanish, Maurice Chevalier for French, Colonel Klink for German.

This follows four decades of observation.

I first encountered a problem in Germany.

As young newly marrieds, we took an if-it’s-Thursday-it-must-be-Belgium, seven-day, nine-country coach tour of Europe. When we stopped in Cologne for lunch, our guide ordered us not to go to the McDonald’s across the square when there were a dozen authentic local eateries.

We went to Maccas. We were hungry.

As I queued among dozens of North Rhineland-Wesphalians, in a blinding flash of inspiration, I realised I could impress the locals by memorising the words next to the photos on the menu.

When my turn came, I strode to the counter and declaimed — “Zwei Viertel Pfünder mit pommes frites, bitte.” — then stood back proudly to await the acclaim of my hosts.

The checkout chick smiled and replied in a clipped but clear Steffi Graf. “Klein oder groß.”
I leaned forward, nonplussed. “Pardon?”
“Klein oder groß pomme frites?” Steffi asked.
“I’m sorry,” I said, ashamed. “I don’t speak German.”
She said. “Would you like large chips or small chips with your quarter pounders?”

A bit of an aside here — it could have been Steffi. She looked just like her. Didn’t Steffi’s dad lose all her tennis grand slam winnings? Perhaps she had to pull a few shifts shovelling out Big Mac’s in the shadow of Cologne Cathedral to make ends meet. What do you think?

A similar thing happened in Chile some years later.

As part of a Rotary Group Study Exchange tour — Thank you, Rotary. What a fine organisation — I found myself with a group of Australian farmers in the middle of nowhere, stranded because a flash flood took out the road.

We stood by our bus and admired the torrent sluicing head-sized rocks through the gap in the asphalt while the driver figured out a Plan B. One of our chaps decided to seek insight from the young couple on the far side of the washaway as to whether they knew when the deluge might have struck, seeing as there’d been no rain.

“A qui hora, esta …” He waved. “River … thingo … you know.” At which point he ran out of ideas, and we burst into laughter.

The guy on the far side grinned. He put his hand up to his mouth like a megaphone and said. “I’m sorry, buddy. I don’t speak Spanish.”

Shortly thereafter, I happened to be watching television with my host family. A chap came on the news and suddenly, incredibly, my Spanish improved a hundred per cent. I understood every word he said. When the caption came up, I guessed why. The guy being interviewed was the British Ambassador, no doubt mutilating the tongue of the Conquistadors in a Hooray Henry Oxbridge twang.

The penny dropped as to why Chileans who spoke wonderful English, struggled to understand us Ozzies. South Americans learn English from North Americans. When I took to repeating puzzling phrases in my best John Wayne, they got what I meant straight away.

Hence I morph into Pancho Villa when I order a glass of red in a Latin country. I’m sure it helps the waitperson to understand. That’s why she laughs. Disarmed by my wonderful accent, right?

Meet Me at the Hanging Tree raises a different dialect dilemma.

Val and Stella pick out an American character in the crowd at a party because she has what I described in the first draft as a Mid-West accent.

Americans who read the early version pooh-poohed me, saying Mid-Westerners don’t have an accent.

Yes, they do!

It’s the American accent that’s not Southern or New England or New York or Texan.

On the other hand, try picking a regional dialect spoken in a foreign language.
I watched a subtitled movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas from Four Weddings and a Funeral. She spoke fluent French with, as far as I could tell, a glorious accent. No surprise, given that, according to Wikipedia, she’s lived in France since she was nineteen. Yet there were constant references in the script to Kristin’s character having spent time in England. Apparently, to the French, she has a distinct English accent.

This must be like English or American folk trying to do Australian accents — always hilarious. Even more when they try to do a New Zealander and it sounds exactly the same. I mean, how obvious is it that we say seexty-seex and feesh and cheeps, while the Kiwis say suxty-sux and fush and chups? Come on!

Even killer whales can tell the difference. You think I’m joking? Check out this article.

Both my latest works in progress, Gun-Shy and Meet Me Where The Surf Breaks feature Englishmen. As someone raised in the Old Dart, that shouldn’t be a problem, should it? But I’ve lived in Australia for forty-five years, so I’ve been watching as much English television as I can and reading English authors to make sure I don’t have Gary Hollins or Ben Shepherd spouting ‘Good on ya, mate’ when it should be ‘Cheers, Guv’.

Wish me luck.

Gun-Shy is at that irritating point where it’s nearly, nearly ready to go live but there’s still so much to do in terms of final checking and testing the .mobi file that loads onto Kindle Publishing.

I’m in the first detailed round of edits on Meet Me Where the Surf Breaks. I think I can get it out before Christmas.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, why not sign up to my mailing list? I send out a newsletter every month, and it always has at least one opportunity to grab free romances, mysteries or thrillers. Sign up here.

ÇḧêĕṝṦ  ŤĴ



2 thoughts to “Lamé can be so lame

  • Chloe Holiday

    This one made me laugh, TJ, at the lame vs lame. 😛

    • T.J.

      Thanks, Chloe. I’m pleased to hear it. 🙂

Comments are closed.