September 17, 2009 – 8:47 am
One of the things I enjoy most about my current roleplay is the myriad of accents I’ve been using and developing for my characters. You’ve all seen Aely’s apostrophe abuse, but she’s not the only accented character I have.
But how do you go about building an accent from scratch?
It’s a tough question, but a fun one. And, like many things, it can require a bit of time investment out of game to do /really/ well – especially if you want to use an accent that’s very far from “normal written English”. Of course, there are people who just “pick it up as they go along” – but I’m not one of them. I like to at least have a framework, or a plan, before I jump headfirst into RP. Plus, I find it a lot of fun, and learning about a dialect can really help flesh out a character!
Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Do your research
Google is your friend. The best way to adopt an accent is to start from one that exists in the world already. That way, someone else has done all the work to catalog it, and if you’re lucky, you may even find pronunciation and vocalization charts on Wikipedia! If this is the first time you’ve done any dialect research, you’ll probably want to look around until you find something with a good bit of information. I’ve been able to find “dictionaries” and “phrase books” for the dialects I’ve researched, both of which are tremendously useful. Some of my best inspiration for Annie Mae comes from lists of old cowboy sayings and jokes!
Youtube is another good place to look. Finding and watching movies and famous broadcasts from people with that dialect is a good way to get the sound of it in your head. It’s also a fun thing to think about, if your character ever had a voice actor, who would they be and what would they sound like?
- Aely’s accent is based on a Northern English dialect blended with some of the Lordaeron inflections of other characters
- Annie Mae has a typical western drawl
- Anzefi speaks a version of Patwa/Jamaican Patois.
None of these are set in stone, exact replications though. Why? There is no rule that says “once you pick an accent, you must replicate it faithfully or you will be cursed with hairy eyeballs.” Use the “real” dialect as a jumping off point and build on it from there.
2. Remember that you’re going to be using type as your main communication
If YOU can’t read it? Nobody else will be able to. You can put on the best Scottish accent in the world, but if it’s so far modulated your friends can’t make heads or tails of it, you’ve gone too far.
Also, if it takes you four times as long to type anything, even after some practice, you may want to tone things down a bit. Of course, typing with any accent will take some getting used to, and you’ll be slower at first, so just try to keep it within reason. That might mean starting smaller, and then adding to your accent as you get more comfortable with it, and that’s ok!
3. Adopt idioms and a manner of speech, not just sound modification
This is really the crux of making an accent sound “real” and not forced. You can mutate vowels and add apostrophes and spell things funny, but if your character is still speaking the same way YOU speak, it won’t have the same impact.
For instance, in Commiseration, she says “Cannae say ‘m fair proud t’ admit, bu’ w’s all I could do, really. Sent a letter. Been our only way t’ talk f’r awhile, so I s’pose ’s nae so far off.” If you write that without the modifications, it becomes “Can’t say I’m fair proud to admit, but was all I could do really. Sent a letter. Been our only way to talk for awhile, so I suppose it’s not so far off.” The rhythm of her speech is still there, even without all of the “sound adjustment” to make her sound like a backwoods miner’s daughter from Lordaeron.
Annie Mae uses a variety of cowboy sayings – “ugly as a burnt boot;” “can’t tell a skunk for a house cat;” “built like a snake on stilts” (That last one’s about Tarquin actually…) – none of which are hard to understand, but they give her speech a flavor text, of sorts.
4. Be flexible, Be prepared to explain, and Know when to ramp it up or down
As you add in dialect words and manners of speech, remember other characters (and other players) may not have seen those words before, or used in a certain way. Aely uses “fash” for worry/bother (“Dinna fash”) and “fair” instead of “very” – among other things. Anzefi has a whole slew of words, but my favorite is “bangarang” – which she uses to explain any kind of “badness” – disruption, disorder, or hubbub… but also to describe what it is that follows in the wake of the Lich King.
The first time either character used any of those terms, I had to explain – or she had to explain, if the question came IC instead of through an OOC channel.
Ramping an accent up or down is something you’ll have to get used to as you go, but I highly suggest thinking about a few “shortcuts” to use if you’re in a PUG for Chillmaw and someone asks you something IC, or if you’re at the bar with a bunch of new roleplayers.
As you do your research and get your accent set up, start a document or file of your findings. Before you start any serious RP, print off that document, and keep it with you – with a pencil nearby to mark things or add in new ideas. Stealing things from other characters that use accents you like is fair game too (just try not to make your character sound like their clone). You’ll especially want to have easy reference to basic things like pronouns, numbers, and common words.
You may even find phrase lists in your research phase that you can lift directly into an RP environment. Just remember that you’ll need to be able to have normal, everyday conversation, not just stock phrases. Having macros with the stock phrases in them can be a good way to keep them on hand.
Eventually, you won’t need your cheat sheet anymore – but it’s a HUGE help at the beginning!
6. Just Do It.
All the preparation in the world won’t help if you never break out the accent in RP.
You might even find the accent changing a little bit from where you started, and that’s fine. As you settle into something that works for you, you may pick up a new idiom, or drop a certain spelling that you think doesn’t work as well.
Just know that, as with anything else, the more you use it, the easier it’ll be.I can slip in and out of Aely’s accent without even thinking about it these days – but Anzefi’s still needs my full concentration (and my cheat sheet). Eventually, though, I’ll be able to drop into either without worrying about mixing them up.
A Note to The Non-Accented:
The best thing I can suggest to anyone trying to decipher the accents around them is to read them out loud. The vast majority of the time, they’re phonetic enough that you can get a pretty good idea what’s going on. Sound things out in your head, and try to get the jist for what’s happening. And if you’re still confused – ASK! Bonus points if you ask in character!
Accents in RP aren’t something to be afraid of. Sure, they require some planning and a little getting used to, but ultimately (as with all things RP) if it fits the character, it makes them even more believable.
And if your Night Elf is constantly hanging around folks like the Lordaeron crew in the Wildfire Riders, well, you can always have him/her pick up a few choice words and sayings. That happens in real life too!
September 16, 2009 – 12:31 pm
This is something of an “in medias res” post, the beginning of which isn’t actually written, and probably won’t be (at least Aely’s part, Annalea’s is written). The original idea was conceived by Falconesse over at WTT:RP (the creator of Annalea) and we wrote it together. Yes, she’s also an Anna, and since we have the same RL name as well, it proves to be VERY confusing sometimes!
The noise from upstairs thinned as the Pig’s patrons drifted off to their beds. The cats padded out, plated boots thumped away, all of them leaving in ones and twos until the only sounds coming from above were the click of dog claws on the wooden floor and the occasional clink of a glass being refilled.
Annalea closed the ledger and stacked her leftover mail into a pile. It would still be there in the morning. Not like Tarq’s going to amble in and have a sudden urge to open letters and mess up my system. She stood and stretched, her back groaning in protest after the hours she’d spent down here, hunched over the desk, or out in the lab, bent over her vials. It felt good to get up, to climb the stairs and emerge from the gloom of the cellar into the kitchen’s warmth.
“Trying again, eh?” Stephen sat on a low stool, sharpening his knives. He’d been puttering around earlier tonight, prepping for breakfast, when she’d cloaked herself in shadows and peeked out the door to see who was in the main room.
“It’s quieter now. I don’t suppose you can leave out a loaf of bread and some cheese before you go, can you? I have a feeling we’re going to need it.”
He followed her gaze up the short flight of stairs, to where they could just see Aelflaed’s hand curled around her glass. “She’s got a head start on you.”
“I know where Reese keeps the good bourbon. I’ll catch up.”
He grunted. “I’ll leave a pot of coffee ready to go, too, in case either of you decide to sober up ‘fore dawn.”
“Good man.” Anna patted him on the shoulder as she passed. She paused a moment in the doorway, watching Aely lift her glass to her lips and frown as she discovered a distinct lack of alcohol in its depths. It was as good a cue as any. Anna strode up the last couple of steps and reached behind the bar, feeling far into the back until her hand closed around the bottle she sought.
Aely looked up as she rummaged around, blinking muzzily at her. “Evenin’, Annie. I dinnae ken ye were still here.”
“It’s a good thing I am,” she said, snatching two glasses from where David Langston had left them to dry before he left for the night. “Looks like you need a refill.” The bottle made a satisfying [i]thunk[/i] as she slammed it down on the table and took a seat across from the red-haired paladin.
“Wha’s ‘at, then?” Aely tilted her head and squinted at the faded label.
“This bottle’s probably about fifty years old, out of Tyr’s Hand from before the wars. Back when they liked us. I figure, this is as good an occasion to drink it as any.”
“An’ Reese willnae min’?”
“If he yells, I’ll pay him double its worth.” She uncorked it and poured two generous glasses. Aely took hers and raised it in a mock toast. Both women drained their glasses and spent a moment wincing as it burned down their throats.
Then they grinned the grins of people realizing just how fine the liquor in their glasses must be, and Aely reached forward to pour two more.
“I’ll go halfsies wi’ ye if he sees fit t’scream an’ screech. Though,” she paused and peered at Anna. “I dinnae think I caught wha’ we’re breakin’ owt th’good stuff f’r, precisely?”
“I couldn’t help overhearing a bit of the conversation from earlier tonight. Seems you and I have something in common these days,” said Anna. Then she sat back, looked pointedly at Aely’s hands, devoid of their rings, and waited.
The paladin arched an eyebrow, taking another sip of the bourbon. “Oi…’sat so? I’d nae heard owt – bu’ I’ve nae been ’round much eyther. Sommat happen twixt ye twa, air jus… naught?”
Anna shook her head. “More the latter, really. It might be easier if we’d fought.”
“‘s truth – an’ I’ll drink t’ tha’. Naught like embracin’ th’ slow an’ inevitable t’ shake up a min’, ayeh?” She tipped her glass towards Anna’s before taking another swallow. “Tyr’s Hand, eh? Who’d ay ken distillin’ would sae suit th’ Scarlets. Still burns like th’ normal stuff, bu’ smooth’s silks after. Tha’s a fair bottle.”
Anna tipped her glass as well. “Yep – you’d never know it for the crackpots they turned out to be, but the old stuff they bottled is pretty wonderful.” She swirled the amber liquid, watching it cling to the edges of the glass. “How long then?”
“Friday. An’ I’ve left everythin’ yet bu’ nae wearin’ th’ bloody ring. Tha’s vaulted, ’till I c’n think on th’ proper thing t’ do. Ye?” Aely drained out the last of her glass as Anna reached to pour them both another round.
“Couple of weeks. I kept talking myself out of it, then back into it, then out again. I’m still not sure it was the right thing to do. I mean, it was, but…” She trailed off a moment, then shrugged. “I’ll be thinking that way a while yet. How’d you tell him?”
Color rose in Aelflaed’s cheeks. “Cannae say ‘m fair proud t’ admit, bu’ w’s all I could do, really. Sent a letter. Been our only way t’ talk f’r awhile, so I s’pose ‘s nae so far off. Wrote it ’bout a week ago, an’ finally go’ th’ stones t’ mail it; figured it’d go wi’ nae response, bu’ I heard back th’ next morn.” She looked down at her hands again, as if searching for something that wasn’t there. “Nae bu’ a simple farewell. ‘S truth – pissed me off. Bu’ I cannae blame ‘im eyther. He’s nae been ’round in months, an’ dinnae have much t’ lay ’round anyroad, an’ wha’ did, I’ll get Bess Cross t’ keep packed f’r ‘im.”
“Now, ‘s jus’ t’ keep myself to wha’ I said, y’ ken? Like, I’m nae sure I’d be fair sighted ‘f he appeared here t’morrow. ‘m still – like ye said – nae sure w’s righ’. Certainly dinnae feel any better f’r doin’ it, thow there’s sommat t’ certainty. Still, I cannae sleep righ’, knowin’ f’r sure he’ll nae be there when I wake, an’ knowin’ I’m like t’ ne’er see ‘im again.”
Another sip, smaller this time. “Ye’ve told ‘im then, I s’pose? Sommat mentioned ye’d moved stuff.”
Anna nodded, turning her glass around in a slow circle. “I took my things back to my apartment in pieces. When there wasn’t anything left, it just seemed… final, I guess. ‘Decided’ might be the better word. Then I sat on it for another day, just in case.” She took a sip.
When she spoke again, her voice was hushed. “I went up there, asked if he could take the night. Even when I was saying it, I kept thinking, Take it back. But I didn’t. I pressed on with it. I almost wish he’d yelled, or thrown me out of the room. Anything. But it’s Fin. He’d never. Made it all the harder.”
Aelflaed sighed. “Dinnae think’s e’er easy. Bu’ sure seems t’ be easier ‘f ye c’n say tha’ ye dinnae love, than t’ say love dinnae make th’ difference f’r livin’ like this.”
September 15, 2009 – 8:56 am
It’s odd how much of a difference that faction change made in how I view this character. She doesn’t feel like a “reskin” or a “retcon” – she feels completely new. Maybe it’s the mohawk.
What’s that? Screenshots or it didn’t happen?
Either way though, I’m thrilled to have her at 80. And very very glad that I had epic and winter flying before I transferred her (and kinda wishing I’d stocked her up with level 80 BoE items). I did buy a few things, mostly to replace the awful level 70 stuff I am so tired of looking at, and crafted a few other things. Tailoring is going to take me forever, but at least I can make mooncloth and such now!
I’ve not respecced yet, because I want to see how good/bad healing is with this hybrid smite build. Mostly because I don’t have the cash to dual spec just yet, and that means more soloing. Eventually she’ll be full Discipline.
Because Disc is Bullshit, amirite?
September 14, 2009 – 2:53 pm
Apologies for the downtime today – things should be fixed and ready to go.
Unfortunately, due to tinkering around with it, I don’t have a level 80 ding screenshot for you (from Anzefi) – but here’s hoping tomorrow will be one!