Eye Dialect 

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Spelling data

 Vivian Cook

Writers often show that the character in a novel speaks a non-standard form of English by spelling certain words in a unusual way. This has been called 'eye-dialect' because it looks like dialect but doesn't sound like it. In the examples the spellings here nearly always correspond to ordinary standard British English said in an informal way rather than to non-standard pronunciations.

Stressed and unstressed
Many English words are said differently when unstressed. Spelling the unstressed form is a typical piece of eye-dialect

'fer' for 'for'; I'll smoke yours fer you, lookin' fer a chance
'ter' for 'to':
ask him ter play, I don' wan' ter go
'yer' for 'your':
loosen yer braces, that's yer lot, Look at yer 'ead, 'Way yer go, Shut yer face
'me' for 'my' :
Me name's Dave, me mum's at the top of the hill, She's me mum, I'm on me own tonight (common enough variant pronunciation of 'mi')
'bin' for 'been':
she's bin looking fer as chance, many a time I've bin down Romany lane, where you bin?
''' for 'h':
take 'im with you, will you miss 'im, I might 'ave to, what was 'er name (even standard English speakers usually have no 'h' in these)
'’em' for 'them': a big brown colt leading 'em, I told 'em I was thirty
'd'you' for 'do you':
what d'you mean? D'you reckon it's true? How'd it go? D'you mind I come inside?
'gonna' for 'going to'
if you're gonna be around, gonna hang you by the neck, gonna burn it?,
'an'' for 'and':
it costs an arm an' a leg
'outta' for 'out of' :
get him outta here
'kinda' for 'kind of':
you kinda lift your legs kinda up, kinda mixed up inside
'sort've/sorta for 'sort of':
We had this sort've a gang
'wanna' for 'want to':
I don't wanna know

Alternative eye-dialect spellings for the same sounds
Spelling words as they sound makes them look non-standard. Most of these could not be pronounced in any other way.

'wot' for 'what': Wot’s ’appenin’? Wots ’e want?. 'Wot?' said Wildon, Wot are you doing? Wot can he do?
'woz' for 'was':
It woz nuffink.
'shore' for 'sure':
Sorry I’m shore. (the 'ooh-er' pronunciation is probably old-fashioned now)
'guv'
/'luv'; they can see me, luv, at any time, all right, luv
'n' for 'and': off n' on (see page 000)

'corled' for 'called':
’e corled ’isself somefink else
'Mister/mistah' for 'Mr':
sorry mister, 'ere mistah, Mister Comstock!
'Missus' for 'Mrs'
:
'gimme':
Gimme Gimme Gimme
'fella' for 'fellow':
skinny fella, what's 'e do, your fella? Look fellas …
'n'' for 'ing';
that's somethin' you don't often see, you're goin' to grass on 'em, nice talkin' to you (the 'in' pronunciation is a variant, shown also on page 000)
'yew' for 'you':
mind yew
's'pose' for 'I suppose':
two or three weeks I s'pose
'bludy' for 'bloody':
That's bludy truble, I'm bludy hungry
'rrf' for 'off':
That'd come orf, 'Ands orf (may be either the usual pronunciation or an old-fashioned one with the same sound as 'awf' in 'awful')
'S'cuse' for 'excuse me':
'C'mon' for 'come on':
'P'raps' for 'perhaps'
: p'raps I won't
'reely' for 'really':
This ain't his property, reely

Sundry exclamations
Non-standard speakers in novels also use several exclamations, all of which are probably rare in real life:

crikey, strewth, blimey, cor