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  1. #1
    Serinah
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    Vocabulary advice

    Hi everybody,

    I didn't find a better place to ask my question, I hope here is okay.

    I am trying to describe a voice, I kind of know in my head what should it sound like, but I can't pick the words (English's not my first language).
    Voice can sound oily, charming, etc. I want to have something between those two, as to opposed to uncultured and gruff. Or if I say cultured/uncultured it has to be accent, not voice? I'm not sure.
    Just give me some ideas about adjectives, if you can think of any, please.

    Another question that I have is about an official phrase in Br English that a policeman would say when arresting someone.
    "I'm arresting you in? the suspicion of? murder" - sounds strange. Do I have wrong prepositions?
    "You are under arrest for/in relation to the murder of...?" - but doesn't it mean that the police is already decided he's guilty? I don't want to have that. When people are arrested, they generally have not been proven guilty yet.

    Does anyone know what British police officers actually say?

    I am grateful for any input.

    Ser

  2. #2
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
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    British Police officers according to all the television I watch say something like this.

    Harry Potter, I am arresting you on suspicion of murder. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.


    Hope that helps.

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  3. #3
    Seventh Year Hufflepuff
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    I've always wondered what British cops says... I watch way too many American cop shows, since I think, if ever arrested, I could Mirandize myself.

    As for Ser's first question...

    I'm not sure what your first language is, but stylistically, in English you don't need to find the one perfect adjective. Some people like to write like that, others don't. If you can't find the perfect word, you could write something like, "His voice was too pleasant to be described as actually oily, but there was something off about the charm, like when you suspect that underneath a ripe red apple's skin is a maggot."

    Ok, that was just made up and I have no idea if that even fits the character you have in mind, but you see my point? You don't need the perfect word. I'm a native English speaker (though American) and I still can't always find the perfect word.

    Oily and charming are definitely adjectives to describe's someone vocal quality.

    Gruff and uncultured are too, but could also be used to describe's someone accent. "I don't like a German accent in English, it sounds very gruff" or "His gruff voice initially scares people before they realize he's a very nice person"

    I think of vocal quality as being related to the person's pitch, while accents are more about where someone's from. "He has a British accent", "She has a New England accent."
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  4. #4
    CoolCatElly
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serinah
    Hi everybody,
    Voice can sound oily, charming, etc. I want to have something between those two, as to opposed to uncultured and gruff. Or if I say cultured/uncultured it has to be accent, not voice? I'm not sure.
    Just give me some ideas about adjectives, if you can think of any, please.
    I think that I know what you mean. So he's basically a bit of a shady character, and he has this charm to him that you can't help but mistrust.

    My suggestion: Sly. A voice which sounds sly conjures up that image of charm mixed with deceit and oiliness.

    Other words might be alluring and compelling.

    Can you perhaps give us a hit as to the context of the word? E.g. the sentence you want to use it in.

    xxx

    Hope that helped!

  5. #5
    Serinah
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    Hi,

    I feel like I've got suddenly a lot smarter. Everyone's replies were really helpful.
    Carole, thanks. I think I'll actually use your whole piece about the arrest. I will of course give credit where it is due.

    AidaLuthien, I loved your description of the voice so much I laughed. Pity it won't work in an action scene I have.

    Here's the excerpt. It's directly after a supposedly Polyjuiced friend of Draco's helps him to Portkey out of prison.

    ---
    “Fell for that did you?” The voice sounded gruff, but the moment Draco's eyes lay on the man, he knew what the guard's voice should really be a sly baritone. And the nasty smile on that face was pure...

    “Zabini.”

    ---

    How does that sound? Does this work?

    Ser


    (If anyone's interested in the story, it's 'Broken Chalice of Patience' on dracoandginny (dot) com.)

  6. #6
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serinah
    Hi,

    ---
    “Fell for that did you?” The voice sounded gruff, but the moment Draco's eyes lay on the man, he knew what the guard's voice should really be a sly baritone. And the nasty smile on that face was pure...

    “Zabini.”

    ---
    It's quite good, the only thing I find is that to me, it sounds awkward, almost like it doesn't have flow?? I don't really know what I mean, but I can kinda of type what I think it should sound like (to me at least...you don't have to do change it if you don't want to )

    “Fell for that did you?” The voice sounded gruff, but the moment Draco's eyes lay on the guard, he knew what his voice should really sound like, sly baritone. Looking closer, Draco saw the nasty smile on the guard's face was pure...

    I don't like sentances starting with and, but everything I changed is minor, and the way you write it should be able to stand the way it is. Hope this helped

    ~Maple
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  7. #7
    Justice
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    Here's my input for whatever it's worth:

    I thought you didn't want to use the word gruff? Something between oily and charming? How about silky? Or silky harshness? Or silky slyness? I don't really understand what you mean when you say, 'Draco's eyes lay on the man, he knew what the guard's voice should really be a sly baritone.' To me it is just a strange description, it seems strange that an opinion about a voice would change upon seeing a person. I can see an opinion about a personality changing but not an opinion on how a voice should sound.

    How about something like this:

    "Fell for that did you?" the voice said with silky harshness. The moment Draco's eyes lay on the man, he knew the guard was not to be trusted. And the nasty smile on the guard's face was pure...

    “Zabini.”

    Just my thoughts... Good luck.

  8. #8
    Serinah
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    Thanks and a new question

    Thanks for the help everybody, and Maple and Justice.
    I went with this one:

    "Fell for that did you?" the voice said with silky harshness. The moment Draco's eyes lay on the man, he knew the guard was not to be trusted. And the nasty smile on the guard's face was pure...

    “Zabini.”



    I have two dialogues where one speaker as British street accent. You now the one even American can't always understand. I gave it my best but since English is the third language for me, I have no idea if it sounds realistic. I'll copy-paste them here and if you can give me some advise how to make it better, I'll be really grateful.


    No1 - Ms Nobbs who is answering questions in court is your usual someone brought up in English gettho somewhere.

    “What did Whittacker Walters tell you exactly, Ms Nobbs?”


    “Only that someone was gonna pay 'im a lot of dosh for a job.”


    “Do you know what kind of job it was?”


    “No, he didn' tell me.”


    “But you had an idea?”


    “Yeah, well...” Ms. Nobbs flushed scarlet. “There's only one kind of well-payin' job tha' Wally got. I think-”


    “Speculation.”


    “Withdrawn.”


    ***
    I'm not sure I want Ms Nobbs to use the word 'job', but I have no idea what else could she use.


    No2 - Ms Cantu is obviously of Indian origin (according to name) but it does not always mean anything, so she can speak usual British everyday slang and she's also quite a foolish woman who gossips about celebrities, tries to look better than her neighbours and puts on airs.

    “Oh, Mr. Malfoy! I saw your picture in the paper just this week! It was such a pretty picture too-” Then she seemed to remember the reason for the picture appearing in the Prophet in the first place and her face changed into what was obviously a fake pity. “I am so sorry about your wife, sir! So very sorry.”

    “Ms Cantu, you remember the reason we invited you here?” Harry tried to remind the woman she had a suspect to identify; he was still somehow hoping that the woman would realise who it was.

    “Oh yes, yes of course!” Ms Cantu said and, to Ginny's horror, looked at Mr. Briggs, the barrister. “But his hair is all wrong, Mr. Potter! Much too dark and short too, I told you, the man was blond! Quite light, in fact.”



    Or if there is something else wrong with the style or the infamous 'flow', let me know. Please?

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