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Dialect and Culture in American Literature

Uploaded by t-bone on Dec 18, 2003

Dialect and Culture in American Literature


In order for a literary piece to be considered a work of art, it has to stand the test of time. It has to be unique and it must also separate itself from the mass quantities of words which are merely written down on paper. It must have character, and when read by the audience it will take on a special meaning for that individual. What better way of capturing the audiences attention is there than with the use of dialect and culture? It simply engulfs the reader and sets the tone of the author’s intention.

American Literature is fortunate in having such diverse cultures as its foundation. All walks of life have contributed to the outstanding success of American literary works, and it is mainly due to the dialect or language that sets it apart. Carefully chosen diction and dialect help accentuate the realism of the characters to the reader, and language styles help establish distinct characteristics and settings.

One of the most recognizable dialects in American Literature would be the Southern dialect. Used a great deal, it is definitely one of the many dialects that is noticed quickly when starting a literary work. In "Nelle" Harper Lee’s novel to kill a mockingbird, language usage makes the characters come alive by making them appear real and believable. Although the story takes place in Alabama, one would not need to know this fact in order to realize that the characters are from the South. In chapter one, the southern dialect is evident early when Jem meets Dill for the first time and says,” Shoot, no wonder, then. Scout yonder’s been readin’ever since she was born, and she ain’t even started school yet. You look right puny for goin’ on seven”. The written southern dialect helps the reader to get into character as they read each line. A good example of this is also in Chapter one, when Jem makes fun of Dill’s name, and Dill replies, “’s not any funnier’n yours”. While reading through the improper contractions, the reader can almost hear the character’s voice. The way the characters speak, and the vocabulary they use throughout the story tells the reader that most of them are uneducated, poor folk. The use of dialect is also used to determine status of the individuals in Lee’s novel. In Chapter seventeen, Judge Taylor uses an extensive vocabulary when speaking...

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Uploaded by:   t-bone

Date:   12/18/2003

Category:   Literature

Length:   7 pages (1,583 words)

Views:   2086

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