[personal profile] eub
In A Montessori Mother, here's Dorothy Canfield Fisher talking about her neighbor. (Figuring that her neighbor won't feel condescended to by this, or that she can't read?)
Not that she was in the least conscious of going through this elaborate mental process. Her own simple narration of what followed runs: "I snatched 'em away from him, and I was mad as a hornit for a minit or two. [...]"
The 'em is signaling a different pronunciation than them would. But hornit and minit are not saying anything different than hornet and minute.* It's pure eye dialect: a non-standard spelling that doesn't even give a non-standard pronunciation.
* At least to me: I read them with the same schwas. Is there some pronunciation difference I'm not familiar with, that hornet/hornit could be meant to signal? The Vulcan over-enunciation of unstressed vowels?

In using eye dialect, the author is signaling "this person's speech is non-standard, but I'm not going to bother to observe in what way." My first thought was that I don't like it because it's lazy writing, but you know, lazy is the least of it. What makes this laziness even possible is that one dialect is privileged as standard, and what the author is implying is that it doesn't matter which dialect the person's speech is. For each non-standard dialect, all that's worth noticing is that it's not the standard. That's all that hasn't been erased from the speech as it's written.
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