He shows his linguistic sense by using ‘eye dialect’ in only five words: ben (been), b’fo’ (first syllable), han’s, wuz, and um. By not re-spelling words for eye dialect, Twain makes Jim's conversation easy reading. Only about one-third of the words are re-spelled at all, and nearly all of these indicate some variation from Standard English—low colloquial, Southern American, or Negro.
Particularly interesting is the use of eye-dialect, e.g. spelling "for" as "fer", to suggest that the speaker is ill-educated, even though the pronunciations indicated by such spellings are common to educated speakers.
1992, Levenston, The Stuff of Literature:
Eye-dialect spellings, indicating nondeviant pronunciation, include "sed,", "wuns," "wos".
2004 Kirk Hazen and Ellen Fluharty "Defining Appalachian English." in Linguistic diversity in the South: Changing codes, practices, and ideology [Southern Anthropological Society proceedings, Volume 37: University of Georgia Press] pp.50–65 [at p.52]:
The strip relies heavily on nonstandard spelling (e.g., "propitty" for "property") and eye dialect (e.g., yore for your) to indicate the educational attainment of its characters.
(mention) 2008, Geoffrey S. Nathan, Phonology: A Cognitive Grammar Introduction:
.. a way of marking that the person is speaking sloppily (or in some stigmatized dialect), but has no linguistic reality – there's nothing non-standard about how they pronounced the word. The technical name for this kind of spelling is eye dialect.
(mention) 2010, Dean McWilliams, Charles W. Chesnutt and the Fictions of Race:
Humorists often intensified this effect with "eye dialect," misspellings that are not caused by mispronunciation.
Nonstandard spelling of nonstandard pronunciationEdit