Yes, okay, I said I wouldn't have time to blog this week. And I don't. But that statement went bust the day after I made it.
Last night, my son and I sat down to read a book together, one of several submissions sent for review at the Brown Bookshelf. I really enjoyed the story, as did he. But the language used in the book bothered him.
Throughout the story, the author used words like ain't, gonna and whadd'ya. He also used apostrophes to shorten words: Burnin,' fryin,' 'cause, 'ol.
Dialog included phrases like Whatcha makin' and Whaddya wanna make?
We couldn't get past a couple paragraphs without him interrupting our reading to correct the author's grammar or the character's English.
Halfway through the book, he asked me why the author was "talking like that."
Dang! Can't we just read the story?
I commended him on his good use of language, but also reminded him that he doesn't always speak perfect English himself. I explained to him that some people do use words like ain't and got and gonna, and that those people — like his dad — appreciate seeing their imperfect language used the literature they read. It's called voice, I told him. And it helps to define a character's personality, background, culture, while sometimes possibly helping the reader relate to that character.
He didn't seem understand (he was more interested in being right), so I decided to shelve that topic for another day.