I'm wondering if there's a technical writing term for when an author uses purposefully misspelled words to mimic the sound of the speaker? This has the effect of "forcing" the reader to hear the dialogue as it may sound to the writer.

An example would be a character who has, say, a cold or sinus infection whose dialogue might be written this way: "By doze has bid ruddeg all day log!" (Translation: "My nose has been running all day long!")

I've seen (generally fiction) writers employ this technique in dialogue. Is there a name for it?

2 Answers 2


Phonetic spellings.

Or something similar to that. Phonetic rendering. Spelling phonetically. Etc.

A few resources for you:


Eye dialect

You might also consider this technique to be a form of eye dialect where the author intentionally misspells words to reveal something about the character.

Some more information about the term eye dialect:

  • Yeah I saw that one too. But it says it's for when the words are pronounced exactly the same. They're spelled differently to mock or say something about the speaker. Something only a reader can infer.
    – Cyn
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 4:24
  • @Cyn yes, I also had the same thought, but depending on the source there seems to be some wiggle room. Collins says "intended to convey a speaker's lack of education or use of humorously dialectal pronunciations but that are actually no more than respellings of standard pronunciations". Webster says "...usually intended to suggest a speaker's illiteracy or his use of generally nonstandard pronunciations". So, to me it does imply that it can sound different to the ear...interesting discussion in any case... Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 5:26

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