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Hagrid's speech in canon

If you're like me, you find Hagrid dialogue difficult to write. A lot of it is guesstimates and the question of "to contract or not to contract" probably plagues every Hagrid writer out there. We all want him to sound authentic, don't we, even if he just makes a cameo appearance. So I sat down, compiled all Hagrid quotes from the 5 books to date, and played with NoteTab's search and count features.

Note that I am no linguistics expert and so any extrapolations below are based on logic alone, not any knowledge of linguistic theory. If anyone out there wants to try a hardcore linguistic analysis, I have the raw data (heh, all of Hagrid's lines) in a text file -- leave a comment with your e-mail address and I'll send it to you. ETA: Yes, I'm aware that it's possible to try and imitate his dialect (West Country, as per much_reality and JKR's interviews). I personally have no idea how to imitate British dialects in speech, let alone in text, and so the below.

Random fact: there are 14025 words of Hagrid speech (without actions) in all five books.

I used the Definitive Harry Potter Canon Characterisation Guide's section on writing Hagrid as an initial starting point on some common expressions and contracted words. Not everything in the word list linked above is canonical; whoever had complied it must have extrapolated. The below guide is based on canon alone.


There are 300 ellipses punctuating the 14060 words I mentioned above, so Hagrid's (written) voice uses ellipses quite frequently. It's interesting to note that ellipses were almost non-existent when he recounted his adventures with giants in OP, but returned when he was back to teaching and talking to Harry, Ron, or Hermione.

The key seems to be that Hagrid does not contract every word that can be contracted. There are plenty of instances of words used as they're supposed to. There are also some words that are always contracted, and there's variation in how he chooses to contract them, though I'm damned if I can pick out any specific patterns.

On ing and in':
There are 78 instances of 'ing' of which [I marked word roots with * -- those aren't whole words]
13 - thing; 13 - things; 9 - Gringotts; 5 - wing*; 3 - morning; 3 - sting*; 3 - bring*; 2 - swing*; 1 - lingo; 1 - greetings. The rest are a number of various *things (anything, everything, something, nothing) and 15 continuous verbs.

anything [4] / anythin' [18]
going [3] / goin' [23]
warning [2] / warnin' [1]
everything [2] / everythin' [6] / ev'rythin' [1]
something [1] / somethin' [11] / summat [9]
nothing [1] / nothin' [13] / nuthin' [4 - all in OotP]
doing [1] / doin' [13]

There are 416 occurrences of in' The DHPCCG (linked above) suggests that Hagrid will always say in' (rather than ing) except when the word is stressed. That observation was made pre-OotP but it seems to hold up; OotP has an all-time low of verbs ending in a proper ing rather than in' (5 of them, as opposed to 116 in's).

A general thing worth noting is that Hagrid's accent seems to have got thicker in OotP. There are a lot more contracted words and swallowed endings. 166 of the 416 in's are in OP. I don't know why that might be -- perhaps because he is constantly injured due to his Grawp-related exertions and perhaps his missing teeth have something to do with it. For the counts below, the first number refers to the first four books, the second number refers to OotP.

Contracted words:
about [24/0] / 'bout [1/2] / abou' [20/20]
(Whereas in the previous 4 books, about/abou' were almost equally common, in OotP about disappears completely.)
and [18/2] / an' [168/142]
(Hagrid is overwhelmingly likely to contract this word. He also uses it a lot. It constitutes 2% of his total wordcount.)
aren't [4/0] / aren' [7/5]
(Again, OotP!Hagrid seems to favour the contracted version. Note that are not is never used by Hagrid.)
because [3/3] / 'cause [8/10] / 'cos [1/0]
(Either of the first two can work, though 'cause is more predominant throughout all 5 books.)
been [6/2] / bin [37/23]
(Er, I think the numbers speak for themselves. Can't go wrong with bin.)
best [8/1] / bes' [2/2]
(The non-contracted version wins overall.)
better [6/7] / be'er [1/0]
(With only one contracted occurrence in all of canon, better is clearly better :D)
but [62/19] / bu' [2/14]
(Pre-OotP, but ruled 62 to 2, but in OotP the contracted/full words are about equally likely.)
can't [21/3] / can' [10/3]
(The word cannot is never once spoken by Hagrid in canon. But you knew that. Right?)
come on [5/1] / c'mon [5/3]
(OotP!Hagrid exhibits a slightly higher tendency to contract this.)
didn't [10/0] / didn' [9/17]
(Again, an obvious shift towards the contracted version in OotP alongside equal usage of both forms in the first 4 books.)
do not [1/0] / don't [7/0] / don' [52/29]
(Overwhelmingly, this is contracted and again OotP has just the contracted version.)
do you [2/0] / d'yeh [8/1]
(Note that d'you is not something Hagrid ever uses, so the safest bet is d'yeh.)
don't know [2/0] / don' know [9/4] / dunno [8/3]
(YMMV; it seems about equally likely that he'd use one of the three, though less likely to use the 'proper' phrase.)
first [4/1] / firs' [16/5]
(When in doubt, contract.)
for [7/2] / fer [51/36]
(This seems to be only un-contracted when it is stressed.)
have [24] / 'ave [1]
(Not a French accent, Hagrid's ;))
into [3/0] / inter [5/7]
(Hagrid's definitely more likely to contract this, more so in OotP.)
it is [3/0] / it's [46/27]
(Not a big surprise, that.)
just [13/2] / jus' [37/29]
(Again, note the higher discrepancy between contracted/not contracted in OotP.)
last [4/1] / las' [8/1]
(Twice as likely to contract, on the average.)
might [11/3] / migh' [3/3]
(Whereas he was more likely to say might in the first 4 books, in OotP, he's equally as likely to contract.)
might have [1/1] / mighta [5/3]
(Can't go wrong with mighta in this case.)
mother [6] / mum [12]
(He only says 'mother' when referring to his own (except once), Madame Maxime's, and a dragon's. Harry and Ron's mothers are always mum.)
of [49/26] / o' [67/60]
(Note that the contracted version becomes much more likely in OotP.)
old [8/3] / ol' [2/0]
(Contrary to what one would assume, Hagrid is more likely to say the full word.)
only [10/0] / on'y [7/8]
(OotP!Hagrid shows an overwhelming preference for the contracted version, whereas usage was comparable in the first 4 books)
out of [4/0] / outta [16/7]
(He's four times as likely to contract in the first 4 books, and contracts all the time in OotP.)
right [40/7] / righ' [12/22]
(Note how he was more likely to not contract in the first 4 books. This is reversed in OotP.)
that [93/31] / tha' [10/29]
(Hagrid was far more likely to use the full word pre-OotP, whereas in OotP the numbers are almost equal.)
that's [23/3] / tha's [7/18]
(I think I'm making my point about OotP!Hagrid, yes?)
them [15/18] / 'em [52/37]
(OotP brings the numbers closer, but there's a definite tendency to contract.)
to [46/17] / ter [203/125]
(Bang. I hunted out the instances of "to" and I didn't see any definite patterns, but again, I'm no linguist.)
want [16/10] / wan' [8/3]
(He's far more likely to say the full word rather than contract it.)
wasn't [3/0] / wasn' [6/10]
(Twice as likely to contract in the first four books, and contracts 100% of the time in OotP.)
what [63/16] / wha' [4/5]
(While the contracted version is more likely in OotP, on the average, Hagrid says the full word.)
won't [6/0] / won' [7/4]
(About half-and-half in the first four books, always contracted in OotP.)
wouldn't [2/1] / wouldn' [9/6]
(The contracted version is clearly favoured.)
yes [3/1] / yeah [23/31] / yep [0/3]
(Yeah is the winner.)
you [121/23] / yeh [273/109]
(Whereas he was twice as likely to say yeh in the first four books, in OotP, he's five times as likely to say it.)
you have [0/0] / yeh have [2/0] / you've [3/1] / yeh've [17/5]
(There's a definite tendency to say yeh've more in all five books.)
your [5/1] / yer [91/10]
(Predominantly yer. There doesn't seem to be a pattern to usage of your.)

These can go either way (counts refer to all 5 books)
apart [1] / apar' [1]
Christmas [2] / Chris'mas [1]
every [5] / ev'ry [3]
except [5] / 'cept [1]
interested [1] / int'rested [2]
isn't [3] / isn' [2] / is'n' [2] / i'n't [1]
it's no [4] / s'no [2]
kept [7] / kep' [3]
lot of [2] / lotta [1]
must [4] / mus' [1]
round [9] / roun' [4]
so long (as)/as long [3] / s'long [2]
suppose [4] / s'ppose [2]
supposed [2] / s'pposed [4]
weren't [3] / weren' [5]
what do [1] / whadda [1]

These are always contracted (counts refer to all 5 books)
difference [0] / diff'rence [2]
different [0] / diff'rent [5]
does not/doesn't [0] / doesn' [6]
got to [0] / gotta [20] / got ter [3]
has not/hasn't [0] / hasn' [4]
it is not [0] / it's not [8] / 'snot [1]
more than [0] / more'n [9]
must have [0] / musta [3]
would have [0] / would've [2]
mystery [0] / myst'ry [4]
of course [0] / o' course [16] / 'course [7]
ought to [0] / oughta [3]
shouldn't [0] / shouldn' [5]
shouldn't have [0] / shouldn'ta [2]
suspect [0] / 'spect [4]
want to [0] / want ter [16] (Note that he never says wanna.)
would have [0] / would've [2] / woulda [3]
you are [0] / y'are [2] / yeh're [17] (The latter is predominant.)
you will [0] / you'll [5] / yeh'll [26] (The latter is predominant.)
you would [0] / you'd [3] / yeh'd [9]
yourself [0] / yerself [6]
yourselves [0] / yerselves [3]

These occur only once, but may be interesting:
governor [0] / gov'nor [1]
honestly [0] / hones'ly [1]
imagine [0] / 'magine [1]
must not [0] / mustn't [0] / mustn' [1]
worst [0] / wors' [1]

Expressions:

Hagrid is prone to mild oaths/expletives, listed below (number of occurrences in brackets):
Blimey! (A contracted version of "God blind me!") [7]
Rubbish! (Nonsense!) [3]
Gallopin' Gorgons! (An exclamation of surprise.) [1]
Gulpin' gargoyles! (An exclamation of surprise.) [1]
Merlin's beard! (An exclamation of surprise.) [1]
Codswallop! (Nonsense; rubbish.) [1]
Crikey! (A bastardised version of "Christ!") [1]
Ruddy (The American version replaces these with "lousy" as far as I can tell, in British slang this is used in slang to intensify a noun or identify something as "not pleasing".) [11]
Gawd! (God!) [1]
Fer cryin' out loud! (Expression of indignation.) [1]

Other expressions unique to Hagrid:
Great man, Dumbledore. (Hee.) [5]
Hold yer Hippogriffs. (Equivalent to "Hold your horses.") [1]
Wasn't room ter swing a Kneazle. (Equivalent to "No room to swing a cat.") [1]
Budge up (Move over) [2]
Chappie (Chap, person, gentleman) [1]
Cuppa (A cup of tea/coffee) [2]
Bong-sewer (Mispronounced bonsoir, French for "good evening") [1]
Sharpish (Quickly) [1]
'Smatter (What's the matter?) [1]
Ar (Yes) [1]
Go boil yer heads. (Equivalent to "Go to hell.") [1]
Yeh great prune. (Derogatory expression for someone who's uppity/prissy, I'm guessing.) [1]
Yeh great lump. (Derogatory expression for a fat person.) [1]
Thumpin' (Used for emphasis; Yer a thumpin' good wizard, Harry!) [1]
Bangin' on (Carrying on, nattering on) [1]
I'll eat my kettle. (if that's true) [1]

Words (relatively) common to Hagrid's speech:
Reckon (To reason) [25]
Summat (Something) [9]
Bloke (Gentleman, usually meant in the context of "stranger" or "I don't know him very well" -- i.e. he'd never say that Harry was a 'bloke'.) [4]
Me [27] (instead of "my" [18 -- so not all the time])
Nah (No) [9]
Kip (Sleep) [2]
You was (You were) [7]
Eh? (Used as either a substitute for 'what'? or to emphasise a question.) [20]

And a general comment -- sometimes Hagrid seems to slip up and use words one would normally not expect him to use (given his usually very simple speech patterns) -- e.g. infernal, spectacular, hibernating, habitat, livid.



So, there you go, hope it's helpful. If you'd like anything added/searched for, or if I've missed anything, let me know.
Tags: fandom:hp, meta:canon
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