I need an accent…for a French-Canadian fur trapper turned American Citizen, turned Mexican citizen, partnered with a Spanish Don, in the American west

Mary Connealy

Mary “Can’t I Just Shoot Him” Connealy

I didn’t invent the heroine’s father in the novella I’m writing right now. He’s real. Well, I fictionalized him but I based him on someone who’s real.

Born in Quebec it is believed as Alexis Beaubien Trotier, he called himself Charles H. Beaubien when he became an American citizen and was a fur trapper. He also called himself Charles Trotier at times. Then he became Carlos Beaubien when he turned Mexican citizen while running the land grant he was given. He turned back to Charles Beaubien and became an American citizen after New Mexico was ceded in a treaty to The United States.

I called the guy Francois Chastain and everyone calls him Frank.

For this story, I needed to back up in history from the time I usually write because I’m doing a novella prequel to my next series. So now I’m writing in a time in history I’m not comfortable with…and that means research.

My books is set in 1840 New Mexico….when New Mexico was a state in northern Mexico. Finally my research revealed The Maxwell Land Grant.

Owned by Charles H. Beaubien and his partner Guadalupe Miranda.

They received a Land Grant from the Governor of New Mexico…thought it was called that it was definitely part of Mexico.

beaubien

Alexis Charles Carlos Beaubien Trotier

Land Grants were given out to encourage settlers to go into uninhabited territory and Beaubien and Miranda scored big with a land grant that grew to over three million acres.

Only trouble is, about ten years into their vastly wealthy acquisition came a couple of treaties that turned New Mexico over to America…and all of a sudden those old land grants weren’t worth the paper they were printed on and these wealthy, powerful men are nothing more than squatters.

Some of the land would be left in their hands if they became American citizens. Beaubien didn’t mind, considering his history it’s no big deal.

Miranda

Guadelupe Miranda

Miranda was outraged. As an arrogant Don with deep roots in his native Mexico. He will lose his part of the land grant if he doesn’t become an American…he returns to Mexico City in a snit.

So now half the three million acres is gone but Beaubien is getting by!!! But there are still threats about his ownership of the land. When along comes a guy named Maxwell who’s American citizenship is unquestioned. He marries Beaubien’s daughter and that anchors the land in Beaubien’s hands and they rename it The Maxwell Land Grant.

Okay, then, there’s coal. There’s gold. There’s a clash between big ranchers and nesters called The Colfax County War. Then somehow the Dutch own the grant and then the Phillips Petroleum Company gets in on the act.

And in all this mess what do I want as I’m fictionalizing all this into a sweet and funny love story between Veronica Chastain and Chance Boden???????

I want to know what Charles Beaubien should sound like.

Maxwell sign

You’d think a guy who owned 3 million acres would rate a fancier sign

What kind of an accent would he have?

You know, writing books can be tricky sometimes. And I’d really like to get history RIGHT.

What do you think? Is he rooted in the French Canadian language I assume he was born with?

Has he developed the more western slang from his years as a fur trader?

Partnered with Guadalupe Miranda and perhaps Mexican speaking cowhands, has he begun to speak Spanish?

Is it a mix of all three?

Should my heroine’s father occasionally say, “Si Senor, I reckon that’s mighty magnifique???”

sigh

Land Grant

Maxwell Land Grant, bottom right, note it isn’t close to the largest grant!

I really struggled with this. It’s easiest to go with the mountain man, that’s more in my wheelhouse, the more western-y slang.

On the other hand what did Robert Redford sound like in Jeremiah Johnson? He kinda sounded like a Hollywood guy who didn’t use many contractions….that’s not all that good of an accent honestly. But I didn’t care. I loved that movie.

So am I over thinking this?

Honestly at this point, I’m seriously considering just shooting good old Frank so he can’t talk anymore.

A bit more info, the Phillips Petroleum folks donated what’s left of the ranch to the Boy Scouts of America and it became the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico… now a meager 127,000 acres.

PS If you’re looking for a fun Christmas read, I am loaded up this year.

The Advent Bride $0.99

Hope for the Holidays-Historical novella Collection $2.99

Hope for the Holidays-Contemporary novella Collection $2.99

 

http://www.maryconnealy.com

Mary Connealy
Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules
Updated: November 18, 2014 — 10:43 am

15 Comments

  1. I always give accents to characters in books if they are from a different country. But with this character, I think I would just skip the accent all together. I have no idea what he would sound like.

  2. When I read this title, I knew it was you, Mary, even before I saw the byline. I love hearing the history behind the land grant. Maybe Frank speaks French when he’s with his family, yells at his hands in Spanish and speaks English when dealing with the authorities. You’re tri-lingual, right? Then no problem!

  3. What a complicated and incredibly fascinating character. Maybe he should be known as the chameleon. 🙂

    I like Regina’s suggestion of him bringing out whatever language/accent fits the need of the moment. Also, what does his daughter sounds like? She most likely learned her speech patterns from her parents, though children usually have less of an accent than their parents when schooled with other children. Did she have private tutors or did she learn at a community school? And if she lived in what was considered Mexico most of her growing up years, wouldn’t she have a Spanish accent? Unless she was schooled in the east somewhere. So many possibilities.

    Well, all that to say, that dad’s accent should be at least a little similar to daughter’s.

    Sounds like a fun project, Mary!

  4. Gee thanks, Regina. Honestly that’s probably RIGHT but wow.

  5. Janine! I love your opinion so much I could CRY!

  6. Thanks Karen…that sounds sort of HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I think the language you grew up with never leaves you, so Chance would always have that “French” inflection in his speech, no matter where he lived. But of course his speech would be influenced by where he spent the most time. So French with a Spanish touch would be my thought.

  8. Kathleen, that actually seems probably right not me.

    Also pretty complicated. LOL

  9. Mary, I agree with Karen and Regina: Frank probably would speak all three languages with at least a hint of a French accent — probably most pronounced in English, since it sounds like that’s the one he uses least often.

    Frank most likely would speak and think in French whenever he could. Folks never quite lose the language of their birth, especially if they lived in that culture during their formative years.

    I can tell you from experience that when switching between languages, it’s very, very easy to let bits of one of the others slip in. I traveled from the U.S. to a French state in the Caribbean and then to Puerto Rico before returning to Texas. After speaking French full-time for two weeks, by the time I got to Puerto Rico, I’d listen in Spanish and sometimes respond in French! I’d catch myself in mid-response and have to back up and start over. English occasionally crept into both other languages. What a mess! 😀

    Frank sounds like a fascinating character. Have fun writing him! 🙂

  10. Goodness gracious, you lost me at accent. 🙂 I’d say keep a few of his french words or accent sprinkled in. Most people who grow up in childhood with something always keep a part of that in their voice. My mom was born in Iowa and moved to MI when she was 8 and people say they can still hear her Iowan accent. To me that is crazy!

  11. Kaki Warner is pretty good with accents, and i think she’s done some research on New Mexico history. but no matter what you choose to do, it will be a fun read.

  12. Mary, knowing you, he’ll have the most original accent EVER invented. LOL You can sure have fun with him, and I know you will!
    Cheryl

  13. Hi Mary, what a fun character to write. Funny, I can hear his voice in my head already and it’s…it’s….it’s French-Canadian!

    Just proves the others are right; you never lose your mother-tongue–though it can get corrupted.

    Margaret

  14. I grew up on the New York-Quebec border. There is a definite cadence and accent to english spoken by a French Canadian. It will be there long after they have moved away and spoken primarily english or even spanish. Even though I no longer live there, I can tell someone is French Canadian when I hear them speak. Think of all the regional american accents. The accents are always there even when the people travel and stay far from home.
    Keep the french canadian accent.

  15. I agree with the others who say he would speak all three but keep the French Canadian accent. Mother tongue rarely ever leaves. Loved The Advent Bride. Love your books period. Can’t wait for this one.

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