This chapter explores the impact of Dickens’s shorthand reading and writing habits on his well-known representations of dialect in Pickwick. It introduces the main literary techniques used by nineteenth-century writers in their representations of dialect (section 6.1) and explores Dickens’s use of non-standard orthography in his representations of the speech of the Pickwickians (section 6.2). These deviant spellings are analysed in terms of allegro speech and eye dialect (section 6.3) and semi-phonetic speech (section 6.4). Section 6.5 examines how, in his deviant manipulation of spelling, Dickens uses rules that he learned from the Gurney shorthand system. These are summarized in Table 6.2 (section 6.6). The argument made in the chapter is that learning the Gurney system made it easier for Dickens to visualize and construct non-standard spellings and gave him the mental flexibility to find a variety of orthographic solutions to complex phonetic problems.
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