Dropping Gs

This piece was previously posted on an old blog of mine, so to my friends who have read it, feel free to give it a pass; you won’t hurt my feelings.  Also, it was written before my short-lived foray into the world of self-publishing, which I found out wasn’t my cup of tea.

For those of you following Sins of the Fathers who are scratching your head and thinking: “Wait a minute, she’s dropping quite a few Gs here”, bear in mind that story was written years ago before I learned less is usually better–and a few other things.

 

Something has been bothering me for a few months, and maybe if I write about it here I can get it out of my mind.

Concerning my Kindle short, Saving Grace, I received a three-star review because my Southern dialect was, according to the reviewer, an “incomplete translation” due to the fact I didn’t drop my ending Gs, and I had the audacity to use words no true Southerner would, such as “skeert”.
I’ll address skeert (meaning scared) first…

Any of y’all who have followed me for any length of time know I’m as about as Southern as Southern can get. I know and use words and phrases gleaned from my youth that many people in this country, and in others as well, have never heard. Case in point: “yont”. (And no, I didn’t misspell a word, nor leave out an apostrophe.) I’m betting not many reading this post know the word–though maybe have heard it. I’ll use it in a sentence:

“Yont to go ‘coon hunting tonight?” Bubba asked Leroy.
Now you understand–yont is short for “do you want to”, a phrase I probably use every single day. And we all know pret’ near; I still use that particular contraction as well.
There are words such as skeert for scared, feared for afraid, learned for taught–I could go on and on–that many of my elders yet use, and if you travel far enough into the Southern backwoods, you’ll still hear used liberally today.
Maybe my reviewer came from a big city down here, like Atlanta or Dallas, not, I’m assuming, from the rural South. Who the heck knows?
Now back to dropping Gs…
Yes, we Southerners habitually drop our ending Gs. But if I were to show that in my writing every single time, imagine how just one sentence in a story might look. Wait, we won’t imagine; I’ll take you there…
“I was fixin’ to go huntin’ when Mama started yellin’ at me to round up my sisters, who were runnin’ around the yard, chasin’ the dog and laughin’ to beat the band.”
Now, if I were reading a book filled with Southern characters and the writer continuously dropped Gs and replaced them with apostrophes, soon I’d be seeing nothing but a whole herd of apostrophes stampeding across the page. This applied technique would pull me out of the story, something no writer wants happening to his/her audience.

image via Wikipedia

image via Wikipedia

I drop Gs sparingly; instead, I try to convey with word choice and turn of phrase how a particular character talks and thinks. Maybe I’m wrong, but I assume my readers are intelligent enough to know Southerners drop their Gs, and while reading, do this without conscious thought.
Years ago, I read the classic, Tobacco Road, written in 1932 by Erskine Caldwell. (Don’t confuse the book with the 1941 film version by John Ford who altered the storyline to play mainly for laughs.) Tobacco Road is about Georgia sharecroppers. Caldwell was a native of Georgia and knew his subject matter well. Nowhere in his book did he drop a single G, but by word choice, it was evident his characters were Southern, rural, and uneducated.

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit,  but I choose to follow his lead.

27 thoughts on “Dropping Gs

  1. “Scared” huh! I would have taken “skeert” for “skirt” as in “He was lookin’ up her skeert seein’ if she’s was wearin’ one of them G-strings!”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Of course I agree with you. All those apostrophes would be distracting. I will just say that the problem with trolls is everywhere. I had to pull my first book (The Way of ONE Gypsy) because I was berated, supposedly by a more Gypsy-Gypsy than I am. Accused of being a gadje (non-Gypsy), belittled for my clothing, tambourine (hey, I play a tambourine, sorry!) and other terrible lies. The book was deliberately called ONE Gypsy, not ALL Gypsies. Anyway, blah, blah, blah, I just couldn’t stop obsessing about the injustice (Amazon wouldn’t pull the review that had nothing to do with the content of my book) so I pulled it. Don’t let them throw you. This happens all the time, there are bullies out there. Your prose, dialog, plot, characters are a pleasure to read. Do what you always do! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Clarissa. The bad review didn’t play a part of me decided not to self-publish; my main reason was that I wanted to try the traditional route, wipe the slate clean and start fresh.
      I don’t know if you have heard of or read “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series, but the man who wrote the first three died, and his estate hired another author to write a fourth from notes left by the deceased author. Since I loved the first three books, I thought I’d buy the fourth. I went on Amazon to read pre-release reviews, and some guy had written a rant against the Swedish government that had nothing whatsoever to do with the book. Though I, and quite a few others, complained about it to Amazon, they never took the so-called review down. I don’t understand people sometimes, why they do that sort of crap. I’m sorry you were the victim of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very familiar with Dragon Tattoo books and movies. I know that Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire) was involved in trying to stop the bullying of authors, including Indie ones. Although I appreciate Amazon for giving me the opportunity to self-publish for free, I do have trouble understanding the review system. Must be related to the US Bill of Rights and free speech 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent post, my friend. I love the differences in language from different parts of the country or different sub-cultures, as you might remember from my “Old School” story. You do a great job in your portrayals and character development, and a lot of that has to do with your wonderfully realistic dialogue. And remember, most reviewers are reviewers because they’re not talented enough to be writers… ha ha

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Can I be perfectly honest. I don’t know Souther talk – I was born and raised in South Africa. A great book I love that is set in the southern parts of America is Harper Lee’s ‘To kill a mockingbird’ . You mention that you carefully choose your moments to put in the southern dialect. I actually understood the sentence you did without the G’s. So one reviewer didn’t get your dialogue. BOO HOO! whatever! one reviewer – there are many more who will praise your talents. I am sure .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your review of Scout’s book was much better than the knucklehead that reviewed yours! 🙂 Congratulations though on publishing a book…I’m sure that was quite an experience and accomplishment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have moved on since then. I think it pissed me off because the reviewer didn’t seem to have any knowledge of what they were criticizing. I’ve seen the same thing in reviews of other books. Thanks for dropping by and reading, Michael.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lol! “Butter my butt and call me a biscuit.” My entire family is from the South, Louisiana, but I was born in the North. I loved hearing these sayings growing up. I even use them on my own children. An example would be, “Yer overcooking my grits.” I have a character in a story that uses a lot of these phrases (that still sits unfinished). Good to know apostrophes aren’t needed, if I itch to go in that direction. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Knowing Southern expressions, you’ve probably had more than a few people wonder what in the world you are talking about if you use them. Years ago, my best friend was a (legal) immigrant from Mexico; I had to explain a lot of Southern-speak to her. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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