"Ma lassie's missin'"Here's how the narrator describes Mr. Lawson:
"We don't know that, Mr. Lawson. ... She could've missed a bus. She wouldn't be able to inform you. She could be staying with a friend."
"Whit freen'? Ah'd like tae see her try it?"
"She is an adult person, Mr. Lawson."
"Is she hell! She's eighteen. Ah'll tell her when she's an adult. That's the trouble nooadays. Auld men before their faythers. Ah stand for nothin' like that in ma hoose. Noo whit the hell are yese goin' to do aboot this?"
" ... his anger was displaced. It was in transit, like a lorry-load of iron, and he was looking for someone to dump it on. His jacket had been thrown on over an open-necked shirt. A Rangers football-scarf was spilling out from the lapels.
"Looking at him, Laidlaw saw one of life's vigilantes, a retribution-monger. For everything that happened there was somebody else to blame, and he was the very man to deal with them. Laidlaw was sure his anger didn't stop at people. He could imagine him shredding ties that wouldn't knot properly, stamping burst tubes of toothpaste into the floor. His face looked like an argument you couldn't win."
The dialect works because it's part of the whole package, and no easy, condescending shortcut. Or maybe it's just that Lawson's speech sounds vividly in my head because of my recent listening to this. (Read about Glasgow patter here and here.)
And maybe, just maybe, it's because McIlvanney gives Lawson a line whose psychobabblish content sits comically against its Glaswegian accent: "Ah refuse tae be victimised."
And now your thoughts, please, on dialect, when it works, when it doesn't, why and whether authors should be especially careful with it. Examples welcome.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010