David Almond’s latest book, published simultaneously for adults and children is written entirely phonetically in the voice of Billy Dean, “a secrit shy & thick & tungtied emptyheded thing”. For teenagers, bilingual in textspeak, this is not a problem but adults, particularly the linguistic pedants amongst us (am I alone in wanting to give pre-nup spelling tests to potential sons-in-law?), will find themselves searching for rules and pouncing on transgressions in a distracting game of hunt the inconsistency. ‘Aha! Surely if he’s spelling endles like that, wilderness should have one s…’
Fortunately the sheer visceral quality of David Almond’s prose will win over even the most hardline apostrophe vigilantes. Billy wants the words to “enter yor blud & boans & to infect yor dremes.” And freed of the constraints of spelling this is just what they do.