Language, Dialect, Spelling and Voice...What's Going On?
Burnett makes some interesting choices in representing speech in writing. Natives in India do not speak at all. We hear that Ayah tells Mary stories, but we don't "hear" the dialect in which they are told by seeing it represented in writing. There are only a few scattered words of fearful respect, applied to Mary and her family like "Mem Sahib" for her mother.
The Yorkshire dialect spoken by Martha and Ben and less broadly by Mrs. Medlock, is reflected in the spelling and grammar of their "voices," which Mary hears as a separate "language," sometimes even hard to understand so that Martha has to restate phrases like, "Now't o' th' sort" as "nothing of the sort," although both are in English. But an interesting question arises when Mary has to try to print a note to Dickon as dictated by Martha. We are told that Mary doesn't spell well and can barely print as opposed to writing. Yet the note is spelled completely correctly. The grammar, which is Martha's dictation, remains imperfect only in terms of fidelity to that speech pattern of dictation. What's going on?
And then back to dialect. Where are Mary's misspellings? Why does the author preserve the dialect when she writes it directly, but not when a child who can't spell well hears and prints it?