Editing For Dialect

My biggest concern when editing a story that uses a specific dialect, is that not everyone may understand that is what is going on, and think I am a terrible, hack-job editor.

I am currently editing a story that uses dialect different than you find in the majority of English written books. The dialect being used is not a heavy accent that portrays someone who lives in the Deep South, or New England, or the likes. It is not a play on the words so much, as it is that there are words missing.

Words are missing because the characters in the story use English as a second language. I am sure we have all had the pleasure of meeting an interesting person who did not use English as their main way of communicating. So you have a conversation that seems almost abbreviated, with the ‘extra’ words that are used in the English language not being used when someone is using English as their second language.

Have you heard that the English language is the hardest language to learn? It is true. More than any other language, the English language has so many “rules and regulations” concerning the use of it, that it can be difficult for pretty much anyone to use it correctly, even if it is the only language they know.

So for an example, what you might read is the following; “She found him at bus station.” If I were writing the story, I would say “She found him at the bus station.” I see nothing wrong with writing a story this way, when it is necessary to set the scene and make it authentic.

I am currently editing a story by a very talented author, and it took about 3 sentences into the second chapter where the characters were having a conversation for me to realize that what I thought were errors, were intentional. The main characters use English as their second language. I think if the author did not write it using this dialect, it would take away from the story.

Which brings me back to my main concern; will everyone who reads this story understand that it is supposed to be written in that style? I think I am pretty safe, as it is a very in-depth story and one that will interest a specific genre.

If you are a writer, do you use dialect in specific novels you write to lend authenticity to your story?