Need some help with some British dialogue

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#1
I'm writing a script that involves some travel to parallel Earths. In this particular scene, the characters are investigating a world where the American Revolution is on its way. At this point, they have no idea what's going on, and are thinking that they've somehow traveled through time. Later on it becomes apparent that it's a parallel Earth that's a few centuries behind, but that's not important. Anyway, I just want to run this by you guys and make sure that the British character SOUNDS British enough. It's easy enough for me to write American or American-ized dialogue, but characters from other parts of the world (and in this case, other time periods) are obviously a bit more difficult since I have less experience with them.

So in this scene, the British character, Atherton (it was the most English-sounding name I could come up with at the time) is a Captain in the British Army in Massachusetts who sees the main characters with modern clothing and weaponry and confronts them. Let me know what you think.

ATHERTON
Who the devil are you three?

REID
We’re just taking a look around. Tourists.

Atherton dismounts.

ATHERTON
Where are you from?

REID
Y’know, around. We’re just traveling, really.

ATHERTON
I’ve been getting reports of insurrectionists in this area. My men chased one out of town just a little while ago. So you’ll forgive me if I’m a bit suspicious of new faces.

DAVID
(With British accent)
Don’t worry, Captain, they’re right lads. They’re with me, actually.

ATHERTON
Ah, a countryman! Sir, why didn’t you address me previously?

DAVID
I usually let my boy do the talking, even if I tend to do the walking.

Reid glares at David. Ahmed takes a step closer to him.

ATHERTON
Well, one must keep in shape.

DAVID
Quite. Eh, Captain, I’m afraid I don’t much follow the news lately. With all the traveling, it’s hard to keep up, you understand.

ATHERTON
Of course.

DAVID
These insurrectionists, eh, what kind of activity has there been recently?

ATHERTON
We’re having a right bloody time rounding them up, I’ll tell you. A squad up in Boston opened fire on a mob of the brutes a week past, and we’ve been putting out the fires ever since.

DAVID
Dreadful, really, awful.

ATHERTON
Quite. Well, sir, I must take my leave. Be careful in these parts, sir. Your clothes tend to stand out, and this is not the safest region anymore.

DAVID
Thank you, Captain. Good day.

David and the other step aside to let Atherton’s men ride past.

AHMED
Most impressive, Father.

REID
Yeah, where the crap did you pull that from?

DAVID
I did some acting in college. Shakespeare’s great for elocution.

REID
I’ll keep that in mind.
 

Cymro

Religious Fanatic
Nov 30, 1999
5,028
3
0
Shitsville, CF63
#2
I've never heard the name "Atherton" before in my life. I'd suggest going with any English name you can think of, since they all come from here anyway. Some Examples: Jones, Williams, Roberts, Evans, Peters, Jonson, Jackson, Jefferson, Middleton, Prince, Griffiths(if you want to use my name :D), Anderson, Simpson, Simmons, Ormeshire, Davies, Mithcell, Walters, Brown, Green, White, Black, Smith, Stephens. You don't need to make up an English sounding name based on Stereotypes when all you need to do is get a common name of English origin.

As for the dialogue, best thing to do is read a book or play from the period, I can't really help you with 18th century dialogue since the way we speak has changed a lot with the times, just like the way you have (Your ancestors had the same accent as we did 200 years ago). But I'll do a few little changes


MIDDLETON
Who the devil are you three?

REID
We’re just taking a look around. Tourists.

MIDDLETON dismounts.

MIDDLETON
Where have you come from?

REID
Y’know, around. We’re just traveling, really.

MIDDLETON
I’ve been getting reports of insurrectionists in these parts. My men chased one out of this town just a little while ago. So you’ll forgive me if I’m somewhat suspicious of new faces.

DAVID
(With British accent)
Don’t worry, Captain, they’re right lads. They’re with me, actually.

MIDDLETON
Ah, a countryman! Sir, why didn’t you address me previously?

DAVID
I usually let my boy do the talking, even if I tend to do the walking.

Reid glares at David. Ahmed takes a step closer to him.

MIDDLETON
Well, one must keep fit.

DAVID
Quite. Eh, Captain, I’m afraid I don’t much follow the news lately. With all the traveling, it’s hard to keep up, you understand.

MIDDLETON
Of course.

DAVID
These insurrectionists, eh, what kind of activity has there been recently?

MIDDLETON
We’re having a right bloody time rounding them up, I’ll tell you. A squad up in Boston opened fire on a mob of the brutes a week past, and we’ve been putting out the fires ever since.

DAVID
Dreadful, really, awful.

MIDDLETON
Quite. Well, sir, I must take my leave. Be careful in these parts. Your clothes tend to stand out, and this is not the safest region anymore.

DAVID
Thank you, Captain. Good day.

David and the other step aside to let MIDDLETON’s men ride past.

AHMED
Most impressive, Father.

REID
Yeah, where the crap did you pull that from?

DAVID
I did some acting in college. Shakespeare’s great for elocution.

REID
I’ll keep that in mind.
__________________

One question though, what's the deal with that countryman stuff? Does Reid have a french accent or something? That whole little bit seems to be superflous to me, unless you plan on using David's ability to quote shakespeare to advance the plot in the future, I wouldn't bother with it, if I saw it on TV I'd cringe.

Of course, if you're going to write a lot of dialogue from that era I'd reccomend doing your research.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#3
Well, the deal is that Reid and David are Americans, but David fakes the British accent to engender a bit more trust from the British character.

But your point about the accents not having diverged at that point is something that honestly hadn't occurred to me..................... that does make the whole bit somewhat superfluous, since I was trying to make it a kind of funny bit. Dang.





By the way, "Middleton" is the town next to mine. :)
 

Cymro

Religious Fanatic
Nov 30, 1999
5,028
3
0
Shitsville, CF63
#4
No, that's New Middleton :)

Besides, If this is in Massatucets(who the hell names these places anyway?) it'll go to explain the name of the town :D

I just figured it'd be the best real name to use if you're trying to go for uber Britishness (plus it was the name of my high school English teacher, so it makes me think English). I don't understand exactly how it couln't have occured to you that at the time the Americans were still essentially British colonists who were rebelling against their homeland...Of course, it's interesting that the accents diverged so quickly.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#5
In hindsight, it does make perfect sense, but when I was writing it, it was just completely out of my mind. Weird. It could still work with some modifications, since Reid and David still don't have British accents to begin with... I dunno. Maybe I'll ditch it. Whateva. Thanks for helping. :)
 

Stag

It's me again
Jan 1, 1970
3,292
0
0
53
Florida
#6
Remember this Brikar ... all old guys are refered to by their Military rank when they were in the war...I.e. 'Evenin' Colonel, Major...whatever

All rich men are refered to as Gov'nah
All sentences end with "eh, what"
When words end with '-ing' leave off the last 'g'.
 

Stag

It's me again
Jan 1, 1970
3,292
0
0
53
Florida
#8
Oh yeah, and if a male character sees a hot woman, he is obliged to call her a crumpet.

Oh yeah, and smoking a fag has nothing to do with homosexuality (except when it concerns Cymro)
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#14
This time it's some religious discussion from later on in the same script. This thing is becoming kind of a monster, and needs some real restructuring. Ugh, like I don't have enough going on right now to get obsessed with writing this damn thing...

INT. PRISON CELL
Reid and David are tied to a post in the center of the room. Yuri, Ahmed, and Jacob are nowhere to be seen.

DAVID
Yes, Captain, hiding in plain sight… That’s… that’s just the best plan ever.

REID
It sounded good in my head.

DAVID
Is there anything in there that sounds good about getting us out?

REID
Just pray quietly for a little while so I can think, OK, Father?

DAVID
If my faith bothers you that much—

REID
No, Father, it’s not your faith that bothers me; it’s your religion.

DAVID
My religion?

REID
Yup.

DAVID
Would you like to explain that?

REID
You believe God created man in his own image, right?

DAVID
Yes, that’s right.

REID
Well, I think it’s the other way around. I think man created God in his own image to make himself feel better. Well you know what, Father, I feel pretty damn good all by myself. God didn’t make our roads, our educations, our civilizations, our dreams… We did that. And we did it by ourselves. Alone. And that’s why we needed “Godâ€.

DAVID
I see…

REID
So I would rather have faith in me, and in my fellow man than a word in a book that was written by men who were dust centuries before I was born.

DAVID
(Angry)
Faith in your fellow man? That same fellow man that would murder you while you slept for your wife and the twenty-dollar bill in your pocket? The same fellow men that start wars that kill thousands, millions?

REID
And who are they usually killing each other in the name of, Father? Who?

DAVID
Believing in something bigger than ourselves connects us, Captain. It gives us hope that there’s someone out there, watching over us, caring about us…

REID
It gives us an excuse.

Reid stands up, freed of his bonds. David looks shocked.

DAVID
How…?

REID
As much as I’d love to continue our theological debate, Father… right now, we have to be our own saviors.

He frees David, and then goes to listen at the door.

REID
It doesn’t sound like there are any guards.

DAVID
Then the door’s probably locked.

Reid tries the door: it is locked.

REID
Not a big deal.

He pulls a small screwdriver from a pouch.

DAVID
That’s too big to pick the lock.

REID
I don’t recall mentioning picking anything…

Reid quickly disassembles the door’s hinges.

INT. HALLWAY
Reid and David exit their cell, and Reid props the door in the frame as though nothing is wrong. He keeps the screwdriver handy, though.

REID
C’mon. The others can’t be far.

DAVID
How do you know that?

REID
Because it’s a small building.

DAVID
Your military training is really pretty impressive.

REID
So’s your dedication, Father. Now quiet.
 

Gitch

Consultant Fellationist
Jan 1, 1970
435
0
0
God's own country merry England
#15
Going back to the original dialogue, I only ever hear americans say "where the crap". It sounds really wrong to my ears. "Where the Hell..." (never "where the heck..." BTW that is entirely american) is better, possibly "where the bloody hell..." (slightest of emphasis on the word bloody) - or for the truly profane "where the fuck...". Although, the word Fuck probably wasn't used in that context then (although it was around in Shakespeare's day, it just meant sex).

"Where in God's name..." would also work.

I'm a little busy right now - but I think I could restructure some of that last scene if you like. If you want the input, let me know.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#16
Gitch said:
Going back to the original dialogue, I only ever hear americans say "where the crap". It sounds really wrong to my ears.
The guy who says "Where the crap", Reid, is American. So is David. Ahmed is a Middle Easterner, I haven't decided where from (and I swear I didn't rip him off), and Yuri is Russian...

But the whole British angle has been dropped, and that entire exchange is gone. I keep refining the story into something similar yet wildly different. I'll probably use it for a second or third episode, because this first one is just too cramped to have a whole subplot like that.

But by all means, input, input!