As a novelist, I have to make a decision. I have characters who are biologically immortal. One is from 1400s Spain, the other is an American Colonist from the American Revolution.
Should they speak like modern people?
Should they slip into strange phrases or old-fashioned syntax from time to time?
Should they retain accents?
Does it vary from individual to individual?
So far no one has lived much longer than a century, so it’s hard to tell.
The muting or disappearance of transplanted people’s accents is well documented.
The disappearance of local accents and colloquialisms due to television and internet is suspected.
My Grandfather, originally from Missouri has a slight accent and sometimes starts his statements with a loud, “Wull Hell” instead of “Well hell.”
My Dad sometimes says, “that’s groovy to the max,” but he’s saying it ironically.
A friend in my writers group is a little older than my Dad. He sometimes exclaims “Far Out, Man,” but I’m not sure why. Does he like to advertise what generation and era he represents?
Conversly, I never thought “Cray Cray,” meaning crazy, would materialize in my vocabulary, I’m not that young, but it did.
In conclusion, I’m not sure whether to make my old characters speak in old-fashioned dialogue.
Do readers expect it from unnaturally old characters?
What do y’all think? (Or, if you prefer, what think ye?)
I don’t want to do it. That kind of speech in novels and movies hurts my internal ear. It sounds fake and stilted and I’m not sure even the oldest human would retain their old ways of speaking. In short, it drives me cray cray.