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Misuse of Slang June 13, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books.

This Dame for Hire by Sandra Scoppettone isn’t bad for a detective novel, I guess; it may just be that I’m not the detective novel-reading type.  The reader, Laura Hicks, really breathes life into the characters, what with characterization, accents and nifty changes of register(!).  I really enjoyed the sense of time and place (New York during WWII, when she is forced from secretary to detective because the boss is drafted).  And the pacing is probably standard for a detective novel, although I can’t be sure because I don’t read them (Raymond Chandler aside).

The thing that throws me is the use, misuse and abuse and above all, overuse of slang. “’Putting on the feedbag", "freeze my tootsies", "fell on my keister", "a cigar clenched between his choppers", "eyeballed my gams", "opened my big yap", "coppers", "hooper dooper", "John Q. Public", "ankling down the street". And that’s just a partial list from the first 10 pages.’” to quote a bookworm from Amazon’s review page.  Normal people don’t use slang that much when telling a story; Damon Runyon didn’t, and he was famous for slang use.

Seriously, the only people who use this much slang anywhere are rappers, who really are trying to be something out of (bad) fiction anyway (if I want to hear someone shout obscenities at me in an incoherent manner I only have to cut one off in traffic).  Sandra Scoppettone should try to seem more real, rather than less.  I am willing to bet she moderates this in her next Faye Quick novel, although I’m surprised her editor didn’t put a stop to it in this one.


1. Eggs Ackley - July 2, 2011

This was bizarre. From the assertion that Damon Runyon didn’t use slang much when telling his stories, to characterizing Scoppetone’s colloquialisms (e.g.,’Putting on the feedbag”, “freeze my tootsies”, “fell on my keister”, “a cigar clenched between his choppers”, “eyeballed my gams”, “opened my big yap”, “coppers”, “hooper dooper”, “John Q. Public”, “ankling down the street”) as obscenities, can I assume you are somewhere between 8 and 11 years old? Good luck in middle school.

stuffilikenet - July 5, 2011

Did I say the slang was anything like obscene? I don’t think I did. I found Ms. S.’s use of slang excessive, not offensive. I’m pretty much not sensitive to obscenity in any case, although I don’t use it much myself (not in the habit, generally).

I am a little worried that you found something in my blog offensive, where nothing at all of the kind is ever meant. This blog supposed to be a fun read, not a slam on anyone or anything (well, except maybe one movie director). Please don’t be offended; nothing here is meant as offensive (even my opinions).

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