Help me not Dick Van Dyke the London dialect in the recording of WITHOUT A SUMMER

I’m heading into the studio next week to record Without a Summer for Audible.com. I am excited to be tackling this but… I need a bit of help. One of the characters is a working class Londoner in 1816. In the written version of the book, Paul Cornell kindly read through and helped adjust the dialogue out of, what I call, Dick Van Dyke.

I need help when I record it to make certain I don’t go there.

First. Which London dialect should he be speaking? Now I think that given his station and the year that he’d be speaking a form of Cockney as opposed to Estuary.  I’m aware, of course, that there would be language shift between 1816 and now, but I am recording for a modern audience so don’t mind using the modern versions. If I’m wrong about Cockney, please let me know.

Second. Having a native speaker record sample lines of dialog for me would be stellar. I have a solid RP accent and have access to good dialect training materials for Cockney but hearing the rhythms of how people say things is very helpful. Do you know a native Cockney speaker who’d be willing to record sample lines for me? Ideally, a fourteen year old boy, but that’s not necessary.

3 Responses

  1. klmercer

    Chim-chimeny, chim-chimeny, chim chim cheroo…. Sorry, absolutely unhelpful, I know. But it’s hard to be serious when I’m still giggling over “Dick Van Dyke” as a verb.

  2. Tom Evans

    I will check, though admittedly the time window is a little tight. If all else fails, you can always read the Liza Doolittle bits of Pygmalion and match your phonetics to them. Not, mind you, the way that Audrey Hepburn read her lines in My Fair Lady, but the way Shaw wrote them on the script.

    Meanwhile, I’ll write my thirty something year old friends and see if any of them might have time to give you a few lines.

    Oh yes, you could also listen to Jack Wylde’s Artful Dodger in Oliver, which wern’t ‘alf bad luv.

    Ta’ eve so.

    Tom (your resident British Archaeologist fan whot poses as a critic)

  3. Chella

    Check youtube for episodes of Eastenders, a UK soap that does what it says on the tin.

    That’s probably your best bet for actors that aren’t putting on the accent, but actually speak like that.

    I think it’s better to sound current, than risk sound cor blimey.

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