Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

Practice: Mark Twain

Mark Twain often spelled out vernacular speech almost phonetically, which can be a challenge to read out loud on the fly. But it’s fun to try! 

From “Huckleberry Finn”

HUCK:

Don’t talk about it, Tom. I’ve tried it, and it don’t work; it don’t work, Tom. It ain’t for me; I ain’t used to it. The widder’s good to me, and friendly; but I can’t stand them ways. She makes me get up just at the same time every morning; she makes me wash, they comb me all to thunder; she won’t let me sleep in the woodshed; I got to wear them blamed clothes that just smothers me, Tom; they don’t seem to any air git through ’em, somehow; and they’re so rotten nice that I can’t set down, nor lay down, nor roll around anywher’s; I hain’t slid on a cellar-door for — well, it ‘pears to be years; I got to go to church and sweat and sweat — I hate them ornery sermons! I can’t ketch a fly in there, I can’t chaw. I got to wear shoes all Sunday. The widder eats by a bell; she goes to bed by a bell; she gits up by a bell — everything’s so awful reg’lar a body can’t stand it. Tom, it don’t make no difference that everybody does it. I ain’t everybody, and I can’t STAND it. It’s awful to be tied up so. And grub comes too easy — I don’t take no interest in vittles, that way. I got to ask to go a-fishing; I got to ask to go in a-swimming — dern’d if I hain’t got to ask to do everything. Well, I’d got to talk so nice it wasn’t no comfort — I’d got to go up in the attic and rip out awhile, every day, to git a taste in my mouth, or I’d a died, Tom. The widder wouldn’t let me smoke; she wouldn’t let me yell, she wouldn’t let me gape, nor stretch, nor scratch, before folks — [Then with a spasm of special irritation and injury] –And dad fetch it, she prayed all the time! I never see such a woman! I HAD to shove, Tom — I just had to. And besides, that school’s going to open, and I’d a had to go to it — well, I wouldn’t stand THAT, Tom. Lookyhere, Tom, being rich ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. It’s just worry and worry, and sweat and sweat, and a-wishing you was dead all the time. Now these clothes suits me, and this bar’l suits me, and I ain’t ever going to shake ’em any more. Tom, I wouldn’t ever got into all this trouble if it hadn’t ‘a’ ben for that money; now you just take my sheer of it along with your’n, and gimme a ten-center sometimes — not many times, becuz I don’t give a dern for a thing ‘thout it’s tollable hard to git. No, Tom, I won’t be rich, and I won’t live in them cussed smothery houses. I like the woods, and the river, and hogsheads, and I’ll stick to ’em, too. Blame it all! just as we’d got guns, and a cave, and all just fixed to rob, here this dern foolishness has got to come up and spile it all!

From “The Tragedy of Puddinhead Wilson”

ROXY:

Dad fetch dat duel, I be’n in it myself. Happened dis-away. I ‘uz a-sett’n’ here kinder dozin’ in de dark, en “che-bang!” goes a gun, right out dah. I skips along out towards t’other end o’ de house to see what’s gwine on, en stops by de ole winder on de side towards Pudd’nhead Wilson’s house dat ain’t got no sash in it–but dey ain’t none of ’em got any sashes, for as dat’s concerned–en I stood dah in de dark en look out, en dar in the moonlight, right down under me ‘uz one o’ de twins a-cussin’–not much, but jist a-cussin’ soft–it ‘uz de brown one dat ‘uz cussin,’ ‘ca’se he ‘uz hit in de shoulder. En Doctor Claypool he ‘uz a-workin’ at him, en Pudd’nhead Wilson he ‘uz a-he’pin’, en ole Jedge Driscoll en Pem Howard ‘uz a-standin’ out yonder a little piece waitin’ for ’em to get ready agin. En treckly dey squared off en give de word, en “bang-bang” went de pistols, en de twin he say, “Ouch!”–hit him on de han’ dis time–en I hear dat same bullet go “spat!” ag’in de logs under de winder; en de nex’ time dey shoot, de twin say, “Ouch!” ag’in, en I done it too, ‘ca’se de bullet glance’ on his cheekbone en skip up here en glance’ on de side o’ de winder en whiz right acrost my face en tuck de hide off’n my nose–why, if I’d ‘a’; be’n jist a inch or a inch en a half furder ‘t would ‘a’ tuck de whole nose en disfiggered me. Here’s de bullet; I hunted her up.

 

© Dee Bradley Baker 2017
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