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Dialogue for picture book grandparent

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How do you handle dialogue for a grandparent in a picture book? I want to include some words or phrases from the 1960s or 1970s, but kids might not know what they mean. Are there any references that tell when certain words were popular?
#1 - March 15, 2021, 06:44 AM

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Use context to show what the word means. Also, the illustrations may clarify. Also, if the reader doesn't know, there is a good bet your character won't either. That means they can ask. This will add to your word count though. It's hard to know what will work best for your book without seeing it. Feel free to post in the critique area.

Some dictionaries will give a little history of a term, but it may not show when it was really popular. My advice here would be to talk to people since you'll find quite a few who lived through the era.
#2 - March 15, 2021, 06:22 PM
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Are you implying that the grandparent lived in the 1960s/70s or is the story set at that time (or perhaps as a flashback).   When I think about my grandparents I don't necessarily think of them using outdated lingo.  For a picture book, with a generally low word count, I wonder if such phrases would be necessary to evoke the "voice" of the grandparent, so to speak.  When you have limited words, you want every word to count.  Again, it's hard to tell without reading the actual book or knowing what you're going for.   I do agree with Debbie though, talk to people who are the same age as the grandparent(s) your writing.   

Also keep in mind that popular lingo will be influenced by a lot of things; geography, socioeconomics, heritage, personality..  even if the grandparent in question is just a minor character it might be helpful to think about where and how they grew up in order to really capture their voice.   Again, though -- for a picture book you're not going to be able to include all those details in your story.  They're more for your personal reference in order to get a feel of the character.
#3 - March 16, 2021, 05:56 AM

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It's going to depend a lot on what kind of words you're going to use, but if something was new back then, you can get a start tracing when the term came into use here:

https://www.etymonline.com/

The site goes some way to helping understand when terms were popular. E.g. the entry for "cool" (adjective):

https://www.etymonline.com/word/cool#etymonline_v_19042

(Editing to add that if you go to the second link and you're on your phone you might have to scroll past an ad to see the slang definition!)

I'm thinking of how the word "selfie" didn't really come into use until around a decade ago, and now we can't stop saying it. But it would be anachronistic for it to be used in the year 2000!

Mainly, I would read books/watch shows and movies from the era - and ask people who were around back then.
#4 - March 16, 2021, 07:30 AM
« Last Edit: March 16, 2021, 07:31 AM by Sonya Bright »

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Can you give an example of what you mean?

I write the story first and if there's a need, put an illustrator note for something that might be unfamiliar to a child, or write it in such a way that there's some context. I use foreign words in my dialogue or narrative without trouble. Ex: My folded clothes in the pouch at the end of the hold-all made a soft enough pillow. I tried to pretend I was in a train, but there wasn’t any rocking to lull me to sleep.
#5 - March 16, 2021, 10:56 AM
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Thanks to everyone for your input.  I was overthinking the dialogue and probably need to reveal Grandma's personality in other ways.
#6 - March 22, 2021, 06:25 AM

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