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"U-ey" and other colloquialisms

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dick Whitman, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Unable to find the link right now, but this month's GQ has a story on the alleged Texas gang rape of an 11-year-old girl.

    It's a great read by Kathy Dobie, and mostly a terrific example of the power of narrative journalism.

    Partway through, though, I reach this sentence:

    "Yeah, I'm okay," the girl said. Then she climbed into the backseat, the driver did a swift U-ey, and they drove away.

    At another point in the story, the writer uses FB as an unannounced stand-in for Facebook.

    On the other hand, the writer does a tremendous job weaving in the alleged victim's social networking posts (this is an example of when culling from social networking actually works):

    "I aintt datt sprunqq on youuuu!! HA BYEEEEE," Regina replied.
    "dnt kal me an txt me ok diz iz gud bye. I dnt eva wanna c u or hear 4rum u or b ya friend eva agin," James wrote.

    (Aside: Kids really talk like this, huh? Wouldn't it just be easier to spell the damned words out? Now off my lawn.)

    Anyway, wondering about your thoughts on the use of colloquialisms? I feel like it seems forced and am pretty much opposed. I understand that the writer is trying to capture the tone of the way kids talk in this town and in this situation, but it's jarring to me when it only pops into the piece every so often like that. I recall there was a GQ or Esquire story a few months back about a man freed by DNA evidence for a rape conviction that slipped into the same thing once in a while, and I didn't like it there, either. And that one was by a very respected and long-time magazine writer.
  2. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Specifically, U-ey doesn't really bother me there, and I'm not sure FB for Facebook would, either, depending on the context.

    Like all devices, it could be overdone to the point of distraction, but I think there's a place for it depending on the story and the use.
  3. CentralIllinoisan

    CentralIllinoisan Active Member

    Really depends on context. All about feel when using colloquialisms.

    As for this specific use of "U-ey," if "capturing how others talk" is the key, then you have to use "quick" instead of "swift." Don't know why, just feels more correct.
  4. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Good point on swift/quick, hadn't thought of that.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I don't like U-ey in this case because it's not something you see spelled out very often (never for me) and so it could make the reader pause to consider what the heck that word is.

    That's the downside. And the advantage of using U-ey over U-turn is very slight.

    I would have changed it.
  6. baddecision

    baddecision Active Member

    Anything that makes the reader stop and think breaks (ruins) the flow. It's a common mistake from writers used to using stories to trumpet their skills. Easy call. Make a U-turn and fix that copy.
  7. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    At least she didn't use "busted a U."
  8. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    You do not "do" a u-ey.

    You "bang a u-ey."

    Usually right near the church that burned down 20 years ago.
  9. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    "Flip a bitch" is another one the young people call it.
  10. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    That's what Yahoo did.
  11. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    It was "flip a tit" where I'm from.

    And, yeah, not a huge fan of the use here. Makes you stop to double check your reading what you think your reading.
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