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A Russian term, derived from skazat (‘to tell’), for a kind of folktale in which an episode of rustic life is recounted in the first person and in colloquial style. The term is now used more generally in studies of fictional prose for the exploitation of colloquial speech in first‐person narratives, especially where the narrator's language is marked by non‐literary or indecorous features such as slang and dialect terms, expletives, solecisms, malapropisms, hesitations, and other indications that the narrative is to be understood as being ‘spoken’ rather than written down. In English, the prominent use of skaz in prose fiction begins with Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), in which the story is told by an uneducated fourteen‐year‐old boy. Another notable instance, in which again a teenage boy narrates, is J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (1951). Older narrators can be used in similar ways to create the skaz effect, though: James Kelman's How Late it Was, How Late (1994) gives us a story told by a hard‐drinking Glaswegian ex‐convict, in a ‘spoken’ style notable for its repetitive use of expletives. See also idiolect.

Subjects: Literature.

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