A stylistic interpretation of the use of dialectal forms in two versions of the same story

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


The use of dialectal forms in fiction writing is nothing new, but it has seen a surge of new interest, especially within the area of stylistics. Previously dismissed by linguistics (particularly dialectologists) as a reliable source of dialect information, in recent years, dialects in fiction have received interest from stylisticians and (socio-)linguists interested in what aspects of varieties are salient, the orthographic representation of nonstandard forms, perceptual dialectology, and so on. But what are the stylistic implications of using more or fewer dialectal forms in a text? How can we interpret orthographic variation and how does use of dialectal forms in fiction impact readers? Irvine Welsh’s short story The First Day of the Edinburgh Festival (which details the main character’s, Renton’s, experiences with procuring and taking opium suppositories in an attempt to ease his withdrawal from heroin) was first published in 1991. In 1993, it was also published as a chapter in Welsh’s famous novel, Trainspotting, which depicts the lives of a group of drug addicts and petty criminals in Edinburgh in the late 1980s. However, while the book chapter and the short story are almost identical (in terms of content), the two versions differ in one regard: the short story (published in Scream If You Want To Go Faster: New Writing Scotland 9 by Association for Scottish Literary Studies) uses fewer vernacular features than the chapter in the novel (published by Secker & Warburg, a London-based publishing house). The study presented here maps and categorises the differences in the two texts and discusses the implications of the author’s choices from both a sociolinguistic and stylistic point of view.
Event titleLangLing seminar 2019
Event typeSeminar
LocationAalborg, DenmarkShow on map
Degree of RecognitionLocal