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Their Eyes Were Watching God: Dialect

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Evan Lowery

on 9 March 2014

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Transcript of Their Eyes Were Watching God: Dialect

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What is Dialect?
Dialect can be defined as a spoken version of a language, possessing distinguishing characteristics. It has a regional and often class language with distinctive uses of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.
How Dialect changes literature
Dialect not only helps the reader to see what time period, region, culture, etc. the characters come from but the use of dialect also makes the characters in a novel seem real; they become believable.
How dialect contributes to the story
Dialect helps to show the level of education and geographic region that the people in a novel come from. In Their Eyes Were Watching God the dialect Zora Neal Hurston uses clearly shows that Janie, Tea cake, phoeby, etc. are all african americans from the deep south.
Example of TEWWG Dialect
"Ah see you is. Gal, you sho looks good." This is a quote taken from page 4 of this book. The reader can see from the way they talk that they are more than likely uneducated and have a southern draw to their accent. Therefore the dialect sets up how the characters in this novel are and where they come from.
Their Eyes Were Watching God: Dialect
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story of fiction and places the characters of the book in southern Florida. All of these characters are African Americans who go through many various struggles in their live. The story focuses on mainly one women and her life, Janie who is a middle aged black women explaining her life and her experiences. She mainly talks about the men that she has married and been with in her life.
Their Eyes Were Watching God: Dialect
Example of other dialect from To Kill a Mockingbird
"I wants to know why you bringing' white chillun to nigger church" This example of dialect taken from to kill a mockingbird resembles that of Their Eyes Were Watching God because both of these take place in the deep south and use very southern dialect in their stories.
Why authors use dialect
Writers often use dialect to paint an authentic portrait of the location or time period about which they are writing, as well as the region or culture that they are writing about.
Example of how dialect has been used in literature
In the book Huckleberry finn there is a major southern dialect that is used in the story, For example one quote taken from this is "Whats the use you learning to do right when its troublesome to do right and aint no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?" As well as "It warnt no time to be sentimentering" This relates to Their Eyes Were Watching God because both books use dialect such as this.
Another example of dialect used in Their Eyes Were Watching God
The following example of dialect comes from when Janie first meets Tea Cake. "Ah sho didn't. Wuzn't expectin' fuh it be needed. De name mah mama gimme is vergible woods. Dey calls me Tea Cake for short." The dialect used here by Tea Cake shows that he is from the same region and culture that Janie and the others are from and helps to set up how the characters talk and where they are from even better.
Above is an example of the dialect used in Europe. The yellow represents Holland a dutch speaking nation, France a french speaking nation, and Germany a German speaking country. Each region has its own dialect
How Zora Neale Hurston used dialect to shape TEWWG
Zora Neale Hurston actively used dialouge and a wide ranging language in her novel to help establish the social status and define the personality of her characters in her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurstons use of dialouge helped to show/define the personality and life position of each of these humans that her main character (Janie) interacted with to the audience.
Dialect in literary terms
in literary terms, dialect means the language used by a particular group of people in a specific geographical area or social class to communicate with each other. This can include the way they use certain words such as grammar and the pronunciation, meaning behind words, and so on. Often dialect is shown in literature through the conversations between characters as well as descriptions and expressions used by these characters.
How the author used dialect to shape Janies nanny in TEWWG
Nanny's speech reflected her position, education, and social status in the novel. For example "You answer me when ah speak. Dont you dare sat dere poutin' wid me after all I done went through for you!" This is what Janies nanny said to her right before she smacked her across the face. In addition to the intentional dialectical patterns, Nanny spoke a language rich in vocabulary of localisms and folklore references, all features that helped make her dialect distinctive. Zora Neale Hurston identified her character, Nanny, with strong, forceful language and dialect.
Another example of THEWWG dialect
"Dats somethin' for de young folks, Janie, you out dere jumpin' round and wont be able tuh git out de bed tuhmorrer."(pg.77) This is a quote from one of Janies husbands Joe starks. This shows the dialect that he used and how he talked which had no real difference between the other characters in the novel. However, his use of dialect her shows how controlling he tried to be over Janie by the way that he spoke to her.
How the author used dialect to shape other characters
One example of how the author used dialect to reflect a persons character and personality in TEWWG is through Janies 1st husband Logan Killicks. For example his simple mindedness was reflected in his speech. "Naw, Ah needs two mules dis yeah. Taters is goin' tuh be taters in de fall. Bringin' big prices. Ah aims tuh run two plows, and dis man Ah'm talkin' 'bout us got un mule all gentled up so even uh woman kin handle 'im." (Pg. 27) Here is expressing his desire for Janie to work in the fields with him, unable to comprehend why she wold not want to follow his wishes. Logan was a simple man whose dialect proves to Janie and the reader that he lacked ambition and amusment.
How Zora Neale Hurston uses dialect to shape Tea cake
Tea cake had the personality to make Janie think that he might give her the sort of love she had been waiting for. Tea cake led Janie to discover things about herself that she never knew about in her years with Logan, Joe, and Nanny for example he taught her how to play checkers and shoot guns. Unlike Joe, Tea Cake's self-confidence was not combined with ambition; unlike Joe, he could openly express his love for Janie. Tea Cake was characterized to a great extent by his language. He was the only character who frequently used "us" as a nominative, which may have been a way of suggesting that Tea Cake was of a lower class than Joe or even the porch sitters. Despite his social status, Janie loved Tea Cake and accepted him for who he was.
Conclusion
Zora Neale Hurston gave her characters the language that she personally was familiar with and the language she wanted them to speak. She left the physical appearances of her characters to the imagination of the readers, but she demonstrated clever insights to her characters' personalities and social classes through her carefully chosen dialogue. Each person who made an impact on Janies life at some point, possessed different traits made clear by the way that they expressed themselves through speech.
Sources:
http://m.voices.yahoo.com/the-importance-dialouge-zora-neal-hurstons-their-6303438.html
www.literature.org/authors/twain-mark/huckleberry/
www.ca-in-sapporo.com/classes/mockingbird/dialects.html
http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-language-techniques-used-this-novel-please-319734
www.uncp.edu/home/hickss/taal/hurston/
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