Speaking British

One of my favorite things is when a non-British person overwrites the way a British person might speak. (Though that is, of course, a two-way street, and I suppose which way you're coming from depends upon which side you drive on.)

It doesn't happen often, but you know it when you see/read it. The character is often "pip, pip" and "why 'ello, guvna" and there's a lot of very colorful Cockney-esque language being flung about with abandon. If that character happens to speak that way, well. That's another story then (and probably Dickens).

But if the dialect or manner of speech doesn't fit the character? Well, I'm slightly charmed, in a way, but I'm also taken out of the action a bit too much.

When I thought about writing the character of Prior Yates, an English movie star, I mulled about this topic a lot. And I decided, in the end, for a few reasons, to give Prior his own individual language of sorts.

Call it Priorish.

I did this for a few reasons, but a main one was so I wouldn't be tempted to lard his dialogue with Britishisms that went too far or rang untrue. He still does say things like "that lot over there" and "mate" but the majority of things that come of Prior's million-dollar mouth involves a noun or an emotion or an adjective followed by a geographical place. Joyful City or Sad Town or some riff on the concept.

Prior's also a little self-unaware and cheerfully in his own bubble, so having an offbeat speech quirk felt right for him.

Our famous person also does this because he's allowed to do this. His agent and manager and staff rarely question anything he does, even if they find it twee or annoying or affected. (Compare to Fair Finley getting called on using "like" and "just" too much in "Wilfair.")

There's also the question of when Prior began to say things like Super City and why. Was it a way of standing out? Or is it simply his natural way of speaking? We might find out one day.



photo: kvanhorn

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