We’re transplants to New England, and just learning the local lingo.
Instead of yard sales, tag sale signs beckon us from the side of the road.
Instead of a local carnival, a jamboree boasted a Ferris Wheel, fried dough and Wack-A-Mole.
And the pot pie here is always baked, never “slippery” like my Pennsylvania Dutch grandma’s version (aka, “real” pot pie).
As a native of south-central Pennsylvania, I knew Lancaster had a hidden “g” (“Lang-caster”) and Gettysburg’s “y” was optional.
But here, pronunciation often throws me. Sigourney Road is pronounced nothing like actress Sigourney Weaver’s name. Quaint little town Simsbury is actually called “Simsberry.” And when delivery folks say they’ll be there at 2 p.m., they actually mean anywhere from three to 24 hours after 2 p.m. Pilgrims take their time.
In my writing, I find localisms finding their way into my dialogue. Whether it’s a dropped “g” at the end of “something” or a York County, Pa.-style “awhile” hanging out in the middle of a sentence, incorporating a local way of speaking adds nuance and authenticity to my characters’ dialogue.
But now that we’re some place new, I’m finding more and more of New England in my current manuscript, from the overwhelming outdoorsy feel of the land to the end-of-the-school-year May Pole dance.
How do you handle localisms in your writing?