Dialogue. Dialect. It’s all spoken and it’s harder to write than it appears. I ponder this as I write a book set in a foreign country. Do a few foreign words convey the sense of place? How much is too much? Certainly Hercule Poirot seemed a native French-speaker with only a few well-placed words such as sirop and pour ça. The great writer Louise Penny makes her English speaking Francophones stand out while blending in. Once, in an interview, she confessed to surprise when counting the number of foreign words she dropped in her novels. Surprise is probably a good thing. Not too many, not too few…. Just right.
Recently I discovered the Vish Puri mysteries written by Tarquin Hall. I bought the first one at a hotel in Delhi, on the recommendation of the bookshop owner, and was immediately gratified. Hall is a Brit living in Delhi, where his hero resides, and the nuance of Indian English used by his characters is an immersion into their world. Of course, this isn’t dialect – it is the English of the country – however, it is dialogue that hints at more than the words themselves convey.
Now back to writing dialogue and hoping for more than simply speech.