Interesting to see where this goes.
Anyway (or “anyways” as they say in the US), you have a tiny dialogue ‘error’. When Ruth says “First time I see one up close”, everybody knows that in Hicksville, North Dakota she would say “First time I seen one up close”.
Of course, not being an American, let alone a Dakotan, I wouldn’t know the truth but since when did that matter?
haha you’re probably right, I’m not native American either… I’ll fix it for the print version.
About the dress yes it’s too long, thanks for the tip 🙂
Actually, I think that it would be “First time I’ve seen one up close” with “I’ve” being a contraction for “I have”. If you are trying to go for local dialect, I would advise against it. The United States is a very large country, and the dialect variations differ between the various locations. In normal conversation “I have seen” would be the correct grammar, but writing would probably be more formal and state “That’s the first time I’ve seen”. In addition, the impact of radio, television, and the internet will probably erase many of the distinctions in speech across the country.
You are of course right that the correct grammar is “first time that I have seen” or “I’ve seen”.
But this is a graphic novel, not a grammar book. Colloquial usage in some places is “first time I seen”, according to many movies. Is this construction used everywhere from Vermont to Hawaii, Alaska to Florida? Of course not. Would it add ‘texture’ to the dialogue? Yes, I think it would though I can see a convincing counter-argument that it might just add cliché.
“I seen” is dialect, not standard English. It’s used instead of “I have seen” or “I saw”. A parallel use is “I done”, used for “I have done” or “I did”.
Some people are taught to disrespect dialect. They will post bitter comments, telling you that “I seen” is wrong. To avoid this, you would have to add more dialect speech, to show it is dialect.
But that’s way too much work for a brief encounter with an unimportant NPC. Stay with standard English.
This begs the question, is Ruth unimportant?
This question’s a bit meta, because I think that the importance of “unimportant” people such as the bag lady is central to the story here.
If Mike is right and Ruth is just an incidental NPC, then I agree it should be “first time I’ve seen”.
But if Siva turns out to be right, then giving Ruth a dialect speech would help “fill out” her character. BUT that would require Stephen to recruit someone familiar with North Dakota dialect for the next N pages, which I guess is not going to happen. Oh well, fun while it lasted, “first time I’ve seen” it has to be.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *