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What effect does Twain's heavy use of vernacular, or dialect, in The adventures of...

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speedypujols | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:05 PM via web

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What effect does Twain's heavy use of vernacular, or dialect, in The adventures of Huckleberry Finn have on our reading of the story?

This question pertains to chapters 1-31

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:24 PM (Answer #1)

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 Many have complained about Huck Finn’s use of dialect, because it includes the N word.  The dialect is also pretty strong in some places and difficult to understand.

“Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats ef I didn' hear sumf'n. Well, I know what I's gwyne to do: I's gwyne to set down here and listen tell I hears it agin.” (ch 2, p. 8)

Yet Twain uses this dialect for a reason.  It was very important to him that he capture the way people actually talked.  He wanted to slave to sound like a slave, and the others to sound like whatever group he came from.

In fact, Twain explains in the beginning of the book in his “Explanatory” that there are many different dialects, in case “without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding” (p. 5).  The reader, as a consequence, really feels like he or she is there. 

The dialects try to authentically capture what people sounded like.  This reinforces the setting of the book, in the pre-Civil War deep South.  It forces us to slow down, and become one with the story.


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