Regional dialects in English literature
June 21, 2011 5:53 AM   Subscribe

What famous novels in the past 50 years have the characters speaking in a particular regional (English language) dialect?

I'm interested in how translators deal with regional dialects when translating novels like Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird into other languages so I'm trying to gather a list of novels where the main characters use some kind of regional dialect in their speech. I don't mind whether they are British, US, Australian etc. dialects, but the novels have to be famous enough to likely have been translated into several other languages. Mark Twain would be the obvious candidate, but I'd like to look novels of more recent times (post WWII setting). Many thanks.
posted by thesailor to Writing & Language (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Trainspotting.
posted by modernnomad at 5:53 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

A Clockwork Orange?
posted by chmmr at 5:55 AM on June 21, 2011

The Help
posted by smalls at 5:56 AM on June 21, 2011

"The Bridge" or "Feersum Endjinn" by Iain (M) Banks?
posted by pharm at 5:59 AM on June 21, 2011

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 6:08 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Does Riddley Walker count? Russell Hoban created the language of the narrator by extrapolating modern Kentish dialect into a post-apocalyptic world.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:16 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Look up James Kelman and Alan Warner.
posted by fire&wings at 6:19 AM on June 21, 2011

Most things by Catherine Cookson.
posted by emilyw at 6:21 AM on June 21, 2011

Dickens. For instance, the character of Joe Gargery from 'Great Expectations'.

Yorkshire dialect in 'Wuthering Heights'.

The Welshman Fluellen in 'Henry V' - 'look you'.

You could also take a look into the reverse, for instance how Kansai and Tohoku dialects are translated from Japanese into English (tvtropes).
posted by plep at 6:25 AM on June 21, 2011

(sorry, missed the 'last 50 years' in the question on first reading!).
posted by plep at 6:30 AM on June 21, 2011

Various Toni Morrison novels have been translated into several European languages.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2011

There's some of this in Zadie Smith's White Teeth. It's not famous-famous, but according to Google, it's been translated into over 20 languages (though I'm not sure how reliable that source is). It looks like it's been translated into a few languages, at least.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 6:34 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

May be of Interest :The Rhythm of a Tongue": Literary Dialect in Rosemary Sutcliff's Novels of the Middle Ages for Children.
John Fowles used dialect in Daniel Martin
posted by adamvasco at 6:56 AM on June 21, 2011

A Confederacy of Dunces
posted by Gilbert at 6:57 AM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
posted by jayder at 7:08 AM on June 21, 2011

The Color Purple.
posted by Melismata at 7:08 AM on June 21, 2011

Anglo-Indian dialect in All About H. Hatterr by by G. V. Desani.
posted by canoehead at 7:44 AM on June 21, 2011

How Late it Was, How Late by James Kelman.
posted by h00py at 8:27 AM on June 21, 2011

The James Herriot novels have some great examples of Yorkshire dialects and I think they are popular enough to be translated, but I'm not positive.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:35 AM on June 21, 2011

Roddy Doyle.
posted by drugstorefrog at 8:53 AM on June 21, 2011

someone even wrote their thesis on the subject of Roddy Doyle translations.
posted by drugstorefrog at 9:07 AM on June 21, 2011

Look at the children's books about Junie B Jones. Their whole appeal (in English) is the speech patterns of the main character. When I tried to read them in Spanish I thought the sentences were very straight forward and not at all interesting, especially for a child to read.
posted by CathyG at 9:21 AM on June 21, 2011

Did The Shipping News do this with Newfoundland dialect? I can't quite recall. But as a Pulitzer Prize-winner, it's sure to have been translated extensively.
posted by pineapple at 2:39 PM on June 21, 2011

Morvern Callar and the sequel These Demented Lands. As an aside, they highlight the awesome insanity of the more isolated parts of Scotland.
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:26 PM on June 21, 2011

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt has been translated into more than twenty languages.
posted by Georgina at 8:12 PM on June 21, 2011

Several of Alexander Cordell's novels about Wales have been translated into various languages.
posted by Abiezer at 3:09 AM on June 22, 2011

Anything by Larry Brown. Fay is a great place to start.

Also anything by Tom Franklin (Poachers or Smonk for starters)
posted by GreatValhalla at 9:01 AM on June 25, 2011

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