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I write in a sort of broken-down patois

30 August 2014

By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will remain split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed and attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have.

Raymond Chandler

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7 Comments to “I write in a sort of broken-down patois”

  1. Since patois means uneducated or provincial speech, wouldn’t broken-down patois appear redundant?

    Oh crap, I’m arguing with Raymond Chandler. Never mind.

    Dan

    • Nah, not really. Patois actually has very hard and fast rules. They are derivations/dialects of a dominant language, often coming about so that those who are dominant don’t understand it quite so well, but it’s not exactly “broken-down.”

  2. Now this quote is perfect!

    The very nerve of those idiots!

  3. Amazing quote. I read Chandler for his language, which I don’t say about many authors (I don’t normally care about sentence structure and stuff like that). If you want to learn how to write a tough-guy narrator, study Chandler.

  4. Good argument for writing English however the hell you want.

  5. Hear, hear.

    Edit my plot. Correct misspellings. But do not, I repeat, do not, tell me how to make my characters talk. Tell me that they would or wouldn’t say something… But not how they would say it.

    Arrogant? Very. But those characters asked ME to speak for them. Not you. Get your own voices in your head.

  6. “when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will remain split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed and attentive.”

    This part of the sentence, especially, is as delicious and satisfying as a piece of dark chocolate.

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