Funny little things. There you are, plonking along on some vitally important piece of Earth shattering prose that you hope is going to convey the deepest concerns of humanity while all the time maintaining the readers interest by keeping the tone light and welcoming, when someone leans over your shoulder and says “Why are you writing about cheese?”
You use one conversational word in the wrong place and a whole sentence can be changed.
I was brought up in the south east of England, my wife in the Midlands and we both, as does everyone, have differences in how we say things.
Ever had bread rolls? I’ve heard of the word my wife uses for them, cobs, but as a name for a baby swan. There are other options too. Barn cakes and the delightful, baps. But they can mean other things too, baps being the ‘nugde nudge’ example.
So here is the problem.
I’ve always got to keep in mind that people who read what I’m writing may not be reading the words in the same way?
If I’m writing a conversation between characters from where I live now and I talk about one seeing the others ‘butt’, I’m discussing one seeing a friend of the others, his butty or his butt. People not knowing the colloquialism in particular end up reading things very differently. More ‘nudge, nudge’.
So here I stumbled across the latest obstacle for me to avoid. The sickening knife-edge of relaxed language that can de-rail any sentence and cast all the hard work into the abyss of misunderstanding.
It’s tough out there, trying to make sure all of the references I’m making don’t suddenly come across with the utter nonsense of confusion. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be missing a few so there’s bound to be the occasional titter when someone reads a sentence in a slightly different way than I intended.
I hope you all enjoy the hunt.