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etm001

Representing a speech impediment, accent, etc. in written Chinese

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etm001

Hi,

 

In written English, an author can convey a speech impediment (i.e., a stutter or lisp), a regional accent/lilt, and other quirks of a person's speech via word/phrase choice and phonetic spelling. I'm wondering how the same can be done in written Chinese, particularly in instances when in English phonetic spelling would be used?

 

Thanks!

 

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Shelley

I am not sure it can be done, you may have to prefix your description with he/she spoke with a lisp/stutter or comes from X place and has a X accent or speaks the X dialect.

 

Been thinking about your question for a bit and can not really think of a better way but someone more learned in these things may disagree.

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Lu

In (very) short:

 

A stammer can be represented by repeating characters (or words), instead of sounds. 我,我,我,我就是这。。。这。。。这样说话的!

 

Dialects can be represented by:

- using words and grammar that are specific to that dialect. I don't have any examples for full words or grammar, but a few single-character examples are 俺 instead of 我 (north-eastern, perhaps other places too), 攏 instead of 都 (Taiwan) or 侬 instead of 你 (Shanghai).

- using characters phonetically, to approximate the pronunciation of a certain person. The difficulty then of course becomes that the reader will have trouble figuring out what is said, as the characters suddenly represent not a meaning but a sound, and the reader might not know what that sound means in this case.

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Geiko

Last year I read a French novel translated into Chinese. In the original version, the main character confused "j" and "z", I guess he said something like "bonzour" instead of "bonjour". To reflect this speech impediment the translator used the caracter 内 instead of 你, and added a footnote to explain it.

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Demonic_Duck

Just came across this. Very similar to Lu's example, but the book is by a Chinese author rather than a translation.

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ymillion

Great question and cool answers. In Taiwan, where they use zhuyin pinyin instead of the romanization system, people will sometimes use the zhuyin symbols to represent sounds (along with all the phonemics like 啊 喔) really just a variation on what has already been said by using alternate characters to represent local/modified sounds.

 

This makes me think of the pinyin system which doesnt include tone markets, but instead modifies the romanized spelling to represent different words. At least for English speakers, which really don't use/appreciate tone marks, this seems like such a better way to emphasize that a different tone is a different word; not the same word with a different tone. How many times have we said "I know the word, I just can't remember the tone..." And now I have really digressed... :-P

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Geiko

I've just found an example of what ymillion said a while ago, the use of bopomofo to represent a particular accent. It's from the book “這些人,那些事”, by the Taiwanese writer 吳念真. In this particular fragment he's talking about the dificulty he and his classmates had to distinguish zh/ch/sh.

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