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A cri de coeur

I would give my eye teeth, my left arm, my right eye (my brain doesn't listen to it anyway) AND my right leg (the bad one - I'm not so far gone as to give up the leg that will actually take my weight) for Americans in Sherlock (BBC) fandom to use Brit-pickers.


I love you guys, I really do and so many of you are incredible, INCREDIBLE writers, a thousand times better than I could ever be. And i don't give a damn about the spellings... but OH.... British English is so different from the American and I'd so LOVE it for you to use the correct vocabulary and be aware of our cultural differences.

Seriously... HALF my body for you to Brit-pick and all my worldly goods.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
impulsereader
Jun. 13th, 2012 04:42 am (UTC)
erm...lord, I sought out a brit pick for my first Sherlock fic, but what I ended up with was a brit pick plus beta who didn't buy my plot device - and I defiantly panicked - just completely - because while she picked brilliantly she also criticized without offering any encouraging words at all.

But since I have been soldiering on, trusting to my own ear, I've become increasingly paranoid that I'm not getting it right. My most recent worry - lawn? do brits call it a lawn or should I make it generic grass? do brits call it grass? - I'm beginning to drive myself a bit mad.

I don't suppose you offer brit pick services? Or perhaps you can recommend someone? Really, another of the concerns is I'd like not to bother someone with this; if they don't enjoy reading the fic and offering corrections I don't like to impose...
natsuko1978
Jun. 13th, 2012 09:40 am (UTC)
Sorry about this. I suppose I should have tagged it "rant". :(

If you follow the "uk stuff" tag in this LJ you will find an occasional series of posts in which I endeavour to provide UK/Englsh knowledge to fan-fiction writers. I do plan on posting more as I recognise things as cropping up in a lot of fic. I hope some of it proves helpful.

As for brit-picking, I'm sorry you got your first Sherlock fic ripped to shreds. No one wants/needs that in a new fandom.

I am willing to brit-pick, but given that (a) I'm actually trying to write something this year and (b) my health means I occasionally disappear from the net for a couple of months without warning, I'd rather brit-pick short stories or long works by chapter. If that's okay?

As for grass/lawn, to me it depends on where it is and what it is used for. A lawn (and this may be personal rather than "British") implies a level of formality and care. The square plot of grass at the back of a terraced house, with a tool shed, a rotary washing line and children's toys seems more likely to get called just "the garden" rather than "the lawn".
impulsereader
Jun. 13th, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, I enjoyed it, rant or not.

Definitely lawn, then, in this case.

Thanks, my sense of humo(u)r [though your rant specified spelling didn't bother you :-)] saved me from the initial temper tantrum sort of mindset and she actually did have a few suggestions which made sense rather than just feeling a bit petty. She was quite concerned that Sherlock was willing to shoot a man dead who had just stabbed John and toppled him into the Thames (and who Sherlock was convinced had already murdered at least two other people). Considering that he could be charged with murder in my scenario she thought he should probably shoot him in the knee and restrain him before jumping into the river to save John. I let Sherlock shoot the man dead.

The story I'm embarked upon at the moment is a strange sort of creature, and I would only inflict it upon you if you were actually interested in reading it. If you happen to be bored, do hop over to my journal and check out the posts which are tagged 'you can imagine'. The earliest entries will tell you why I started it and snippets of what I've written so far follow.

My Sherlock stories aside from Welcome to London - sticky post in my journal is fic master - are all - 3 short enough to be not chaptered - un-brit-picked and if you end up reading any of them I'd gladly take any suggestions.
natsuko1978
Jun. 13th, 2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
Given that I adore Shakespeare, am-dram, Sherlock and As Times Goes By, I have friended you. I'm out this evening, but more detailed comments will follow.

Is there any Brit-thing you would really like to know a lot about? I'm collecting ideas for my meta posts. (Did you have a shufti?)
impulsereader
Jun. 14th, 2012 04:03 pm (UTC)
Much too much information
What on earth is a shufti? :-)

I’ve been meditating on this a bit, and most of the insecurity is caused by those casual, probably mostly slang, terms that I don’t think about. I watch enough BBC to instinctively use – as an obvious example: git, prat, bugger rather than moron or jerk – they’re ‘atmospheric’ and remind americans that they’re reading a story which doesn’t take place here, and I assume they add to the overall weaving which allows you to read a story and not be constantly needled with reminders that the author isn’t a native speaker – as long as it isn’t overdone and every other word is git or tea or prat or tea or bugger or tea.

But there are two other categories that go beyond the place where I’m able to use instinct.

An example of one, is a line where John calls the nutter who’s been texting him ‘this guy’. I read a lot while I’m writing – my own story – I’ll write a bit, then read it over, write some more, read it all over again, repeat ad nauseum. Well, that phrase, ‘this guy’ which is totally not British-sounding at all – especially considering what you do call a guy – lasted an alarmingly long time before I realized this and replaced it. So, on this level I would know better if I had been paying more attention, but it could have easily slipped through yet another reading. Another example was I automatically typed out ‘you’re off your rocker’ and immediately thought, ‘hm, I bet that’s mainly us and there’s a more British alternative’. Yup, and I’d heard ‘off your trolley’ on television at some point. This is sort of an osmosis thing, my brain has an idea of what this should sound like if John and Sherlock were doing the scene for me in my living room – sigh – and sometimes it reminds me when I’ve got it wrong, but other times it doesn’t. I did the same thing with crow bar yesterday – pry bar was just a quick google away.

The next level beyond that are all the phrases which are good, atmospheric alternatives to ones I’m using but are less obviously British than git, prat, etc. These, if I’m aware of them are buried too far in my subconscious to ping my brain while I’m typing. I’m not really sure if a non-native speaker could achieve their casual, effective use without at least living for a while in Britain. It would be much more like typing in a foreign language that what I currently do.

I say ‘sure’ a lot. If I’m thanked for something I’m more likely to say ‘sure’ implying, ‘sure, it was no problem’. I also think I answer questions with ‘sure’ instead of ‘yes’ a lot. I had John say it at least once in WTL and was brit-picked on it, so I now avoid it in fic. ‘Really’ seems to be something that British authors put into dialogue as a joke – implying someone is either american, imitating an american accent, or possibly just being annoying – so I try to avoid that. I find myself using ‘actually’ a lot as an alternative for these sorts of words.

I almost feel like it might be beneficial to start keeping a list of words I’m unsure about, or just use quite often and keep it handy while I watch British shows. If I notice equivalents or alternatives I could jot them down for reference later.

Regarding the You Can Imagine-verse, I’ve had to sort of let the Holmes country house exist in an AU bubble. The British don’t do what I have the Holmes clan doing any more than americans do. It’s a purely Homesian phenomenon. That said, I certainly need the characters to sound British, and I am trying to get the feel of an 'olden time' sort of house party, so the tip you gave me on the cricket matches was glorious! I’m so glad to know that that scene can actually ring true, and the added tidbit of family vs. staff or house vs. village is something I would have been completely unaware of – thank you so much for that!

Actual questions:
The ‘living room’ in the flat where the sofa lives and the boys hang out – would you call that a sitting room – or something else?

Weird thing I just typed – ‘I’ll take you down to the pub’ – ‘I’ll take you down the pub’ – or other? I don’t even know why I want to drop the ‘to’, really, but it popped into my head.
natsuko1978
Jun. 15th, 2012 01:37 am (UTC)
Re: Much too much information
shufti (noun) - Originally British military slang in the 1940s; it means a look or reconnaitre, especially a quick one.
It's probably slightly old-fashioned these days, but I love our language for these very quirks. (Also, my dad's in his 70s so I grew up hearing slightly old fashioned informal language.) :D

As for your first examples, both "off your rocker" and "off your trolley" are acceptable, but to me they also sound slightly old-fashioned, given that John isn't forty yet.

This is one of the "Beware Dragons" areas - for people in their thirties with a lifetime's exposure to American TV and films, a certain amount of colloquial and informal usage would NOT sound odd to American ears. (Mycroft and Sherlock's speech should be slightly exempt from this rule.) If you make characters sound *too* "British", you can end up with them sounding old fashioned or pretentious.

Slang also has *meaning*. I grew up being taught that "bugger" was the worst swear word of them all - worse than "fuck" because bugger refers to anal sex whereas fuck just refers to sex. And my grandfather was a docker! The hard and fast rules vary a bit with region and with time, but you could still cause trouble by calling the wrong person a "bugger".

Equally, "twat" is a synonym for "cunt". Though interestingly, it also has another use - to twat something means to hit/destroy it hard and fast. It was used in "Red Dwarf" to this effect: "I say let's just get out there and twat it!" (Actually, Red Dwarf might have invented that use. A bit like "smeg".)

However, because "twat" sounds like it might be related to "twit" (an idiot) many people use it without any awareness of the meaning. However, "twat" was one of the words which my brothers and I were forbidden from using growing up.

"Git" literally means "bastard" - it's derive from the older term "get" as in "beget".

(In slash, American writers tend to over-use "prick"; yes, yes it means "cock"... but not in any flattering way. Listen to the word. And "cock" has been a penis as well as a bird since the 15th century. It's FINE to use it. Honestly.)

As for "sure", in British use it tends to be limited to "Are you sure?" But again "certain" and "certainly" don't have quite the level of formality in British English that they do in American English. As an acknowledgement, you might consider "Of course" and "'Course" -- "Could you lay the table?" "'Course I can." etc

And we definitely "go down" the pub, not "down to" the pub. :)
impulsereader
Jun. 15th, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Much too much information
John's age - hm - are you taking his cv as accurate and extrapolating him as under 40 from that? I'm inclined to take the view that the character is the same age as Martin Freeman - so 40-ish - and the prop people are useless on this show. Mentally I just add 10 years to the cv info and that works out quite well.

Anyway...this is all quite absorbing. I especially enjoy the etymology of 'git'.

It's interesting to me that 'off your rocker' translates well - what would you say is the more modern equivalent phrase?

I think I fall into making Sherlock sound a bit formal - perhaps more so than he is presented on the show. I'm almost thinking this is my head making him sound distinct from the other characters surrounding him. On screen that voice of his sets him apart, but on paper I still feel like you should know it's Sherlock talking even if I haven't typed - Sherlock said - before or after it.

Interesting - so would you say bugger, twat, and cunt are the harshest swear words in use? I go back and forth thinking there are not enough or too many possible choices in this category depending upon what I'm trying to write. I'm imagining prick fits better here than it would if I were writing a sex scene. Cock is much preferable to prick in that context.

Ah, very good. And once we're down the pub would John be inclined to buy Greg a round - or is there another term better suited?

natsuko1978
Jun. 15th, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Much too much information
I can't find it now (naturally!) but I'm fairly sure that "John" identifies himself as 37 in some part of the offical blog. That's what I put in my pen-and-paper notes, anyway. :) Even if he's the same age as Martin, that's still younger than my older brother (who's 46) and only a few years older than I am (see username). So I still think it's relevant to say that certain phrases would sound a bit old for him.

As for "off your rocker"... it would depend who you were talking to. If John were telling Sherlock that he's mad as a hatter (or indeed, a March hare) he might well call him a "daft ha'p'orth" which is one of my personal favourite phrases. Or "nutty as a fruit cake"? A Cadbury's Fruit and Nut (bit old fashioned, again). As an FYI "mad" does tend to indicate "crazy" more than "angry" in Brit-speak. So he could just say, "You're mad, you are, stark, staring [or raving] mad."

Talking to Moriarty on the other hand, without the friendly feel? "Off your head", "Nuts", "off your nut", "certifiable", "out of your mind"...

As I said, people vary in whether they even regard bugger and twat as proper swear words, but they were definitely verboten in my family. Cunt is the one word you CANNOT say on British TV. I've heard fuck quite a bit (on TV). But cunt and fuck are probably the two worst words, as universally agreed.

One of the commonest British "PG" swear words is "bloody", with "bloody hell!" as an exclamation. There's also "blimey!" "blooming" "bloomin' heck!" (blooming is pronounced "blimin" in London) and some people actually *say* "eff" for "fuck", as in "Oh eff off, you berk!"

(It should be noted that many of the upper classes swear more than the middle classes do.)

In the pub, John could certainly get a round in for him and Greg, but *usually* a round would be more than two people. Buying for only one mate, you're more likely to just get him a pint.

ETA - Or "get the drinks in", "get the pints in" etc

ETA2 - In my head Sherlock is one of those annoying people who focus on the literal meaning of words, even - especially - swear words, so should John remark that his shoulder "hurts like buggery" he is likely to ask how John knows...

Edited at 2012-06-15 07:02 pm (UTC)
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