Are there any easy hacks for Language problems?

Bramandin

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Gawd I feel like I should be posting this to the writing-mockery subreddit.

I do not have the interest to deal with languages, as in if there was a way to make me do things that don't excite me, I'd use it for housework first. But I also want to have bilingual characters and language-drift and dialects instead of everyone speaking a grammar-correct version of USA Midwestern.

I also do not get connotation. I remember in school that the teacher just expected me to "get it" after being made aware of it, and she'd been my remedial English teacher a few years before when I didn't need remedial English.

I dunno, does the average reader care about the nuances of language-drift and how a bilingual character's thoughts are shaped by translations, or can I just be an idiot about it and be forgiven?
 

Bramandin

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I find inventing languages really tedious too. Even coming up with a good character name is difficult. Sometimes I think of a cool sounding alien name and then google it and discover its Arabic for vacuum cleaner (or something like that). Then its back to the drawing board.

For my fanfiction, I'd have gone with naming a minor character "arabic for vacuum cleaner" on purpose and then went on to make them recurring. One major character is named Ozker. I dunno, I'm planning to put this next story on Royal Road and get paid in tips. It might be funny to just have a nome named "arabic for vacuum cleaner" until someone calls me out on it.
 

sknox

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>I dunno, does the average reader care about the nuances of language-drift and how a bilingual character's thoughts are shaped by translations, or can I just be an idiot about it and be forgiven?

Yes, and yes. Also, no and no.

There's no such thing as the average reader. That's not how averages work, unless you're willing to start chopping up people in the name of mathematics. Pedantic, sure, but I'm wandering toward a point.

You're postulating the *typical* reader (which statistically would be the modal reader), the sort of reader there's more of than any other single type. Already I bet you can see that's sort of nonsensical. There are scads of different readers. In fact, the same individual is perfectly capable of being a different sort of reader at different times in their life. So cast that chimera to the roadside and drive on.

Ask instead, who *will* care about the nuances of language-drift, and the rest of that clause. Now, how do you plan to address that particular reader? You can forget about them (whether or not they forgive you). You can make a sort of freshman-level effort to accommodate. You can be terribly clever about it and have the characters themselves struggle with all that. Or you can decide it's not important to the story and leave it alone. Every approach (I'm sure there are others) has its angles. It's on you not only to choose, but to deliver on your choice.

Can you be an idiot? Sure! I am. It's exhilarating! Will you be forgiven? By some and not by others. How badly do you want to be an idiot? That, too, is a choice.
 

Toby Frost

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does the average reader care about the nuances of language-drift and how a bilingual character's thoughts are shaped by translations

Not in an adventure story, by and large.

Short answer: just write the book.

Longer answer: I wouldn't go near making up an imaginary language with a bargepole, because it doesn't interest me and I've got no talent for languages. My way around it, if I was being cynical, would be to make up a few words and phrases - usually exclamations along the lines of "For goodness' sake" or "have a good journey" - and a couple of "untranslateable" words (in reality, this tends to mean "words that don't have a easy single word translation"). Then drop them into conversation. Of course, this does run the risk of having a stock character who exclaims "Sacre bleu!", "Gott in Himmel!" or whatever, so it's best used with care.

The other way is to have the character occasionally stop and think to find the exact word, usually for something very precise. A quick "what's that word?" will usually suffice. ("There's a split between them - how do you say it - a dichotomy? Yes, that.")
 

mosaix

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Gawd I feel like I should be posting this to the writing-mockery subreddit.

I do not have the interest to deal with languages, as in if there was a way to make me do things that don't excite me, I'd use it for housework first. But I also want to have bilingual characters and language-drift and dialects instead of everyone speaking a grammar-correct version of USA Midwestern.

I also do not get connotation. I remember in school that the teacher just expected me to "get it" after being made aware of it, and she'd been my remedial English teacher a few years before when I didn't need remedial English.

I dunno, does the average reader care about the nuances of language-drift and how a bilingual character's thoughts are shaped by translations, or can I just be an idiot about it and be forgiven?

@Bramandin please don’t take this personally, it certainly isn’t intended that way, but it would do my blood pressure a great deal of good if you used the word ‘tips’ instead of ‘hacks’.
 

therapist

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Is there anything wrong with just making up random sounding words and calling it a language?

'Zuk falukuu pooluu zuk hamaraku,' said John.
'Hamaruku?!' replied Steve. 'Zuk jukanisto pooluu zuk gogonk tut zip kakareko!'
'What are they arguing about?' I asked my friend.
'John accused Steve of cheating, and in retaliation, Steve challenged him to a dance-off.'

If I kept doing this throughout a book, would people actually try and decipher the language and prove me a fraud? Or if I told everyone I spent 95 years studying linguistics and created this language for my book, would that make the story any better?
 

Wayne Mack

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When writing, there are always trade-offs to be made. If something does not interest me as a writer, I simply omit it. If one does not want to deal with language nuance in a story, then avoid introducing language nuance to the reader. Do not call a character bilingual unless wants to show the reader bilingualism at least to some degree. Readers will seldom complain about what is omitted from a story. They will note that if something is promised and then it is not followed though on.

Remember, this is your story and these are your characters. There is no need to write about something that you do not want to write about. Writing should be fun and not drudgery. If you do not want to address language aspects, then simply do not include them. Go ahead and write the story as you feel fits and do not feel required to inject externalities requested by others.
 

Bramandin

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You have no interest in languages but you still want to cover them? Why? Are you working from some checklist of irreverent details you think you need to cover instead of story and character development? :)

I was incredibly bored last night and my brain wasn't working well enough to let me focus on anything, including actually writing my story.

I apologize because I should not have been on the internet while I'm like that.

@Bramandin please don’t take this personally, it certainly isn’t intended that way, but it would do my blood pressure a great deal of good if you used the word ‘tips’ instead of ‘hacks’.

Noted, though now I'm curious about the story behind that.
 

Bramandin

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Ask instead, who *will* care about the nuances of language-drift, and the rest of that clause. Now, how do you plan to address that particular reader? You can forget about them (whether or not they forgive you). You can make a sort of freshman-level effort to accommodate. You can be terribly clever about it and have the characters themselves struggle with all that. Or you can decide it's not important to the story and leave it alone. Every approach (I'm sure there are others) has its angles. It's on you not only to choose, but to deliver on your choice.

Eeek, math; that's another thing that I want to just go ahead and be an idiot about. :D I'm a bit for column "annoy the language nerds by almost completely ignoring stuff they care about" and a bit for "annoy the Hungarians because my use of google translate will be obvious." The amount of flack I got for naming my character Zimnaryba on free World of Warcraft was tolerable.

The other way is to have the character occasionally stop and think to find the exact word, usually for something very precise. A quick "what's that word?" will usually suffice. ("There's a split between them - how do you say it - a dichotomy? Yes, that.")

That is one detail that I want to include. Usually Jacobi is good with how the words that survived from the elves' language gained different meanings, but somehow he didn't know that the word for soothsayer means banshee now.


I actually had a story in my fanfiction planned for that. This one race was trapped in a dimension called Hell and there was a period where they could do demonic possession of humans. One of them was telling a ghost-story about how one of them was crazy and would spout nonsense before attacking everyone else. The vampire with mind-control powers freaks him out by saying "my hovercraft is full of eels" and apologizes because she was the one doing that. Her other phrase was "bring me a shrubbery."

Is there anything wrong with just making up random sounding words and calling it a language?

That might be preferable to me using google translate to mangle Hungarian when that language hasn't done anything to me.

Go ahead and write the story as you feel fits and do not feel required to inject externalities requested by others.

I'd post a gif of Cartman saying "Watevah, I do what I want," but I don't know if there is any bad context. The worst that can happen is that I'd be cancelled and not get any tips. :p
 

mosaix

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I was incredibly bored last night and my brain wasn't working well enough to let me focus on anything, including actually writing my story.

I apologize because I should not have been on the internet while I'm like that.



Noted, though now I'm curious about the story behind that.

Hi @Bramandin. Don't take me too seriously. I just have a thing about the use of new 'cool' words when there are perfectly acceptable words already in existence.

I see you've been around about two months. In case I missed an 'introductory' thread of any kind - a warm welcome to the Chrons. :)

I would have included a 'friendly' type of emoji on my original post but it was made on my smartphone but, somehow when I do that, the forum software omits them.
 

Bramandin

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Hi @Bramandin. Don't take me too seriously. I just have a thing about the use of new 'cool' words when there are perfectly acceptable words already in existence.

I see you've been around about two months. In case I missed an 'introductory' thread of any kind - a warm welcome to the Chrons. :)

I would have included a 'friendly' type of emoji on my original post but it was made on my smartphone but, somehow when I do that, the forum software omits them.

I figured it was something objectively silly, but erring on the side of caution means taking things seriously even if I think it's not. I agree that when something is called a lifehack, people are blowing it out of proportion and it's pretty dumb even as a tip.

I don't think I did an introductory thread. :p Also it seems that my ascii emojis are being translated.
Code:
:P
 

Swank

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Is there anything wrong with just making up random sounding words and calling it a language?

'Zuk falukuu pooluu zuk hamaraku,' said John.
'Hamaruku?!' replied Steve. 'Zuk jukanisto pooluu zuk gogonk tut zip kakareko!'
'What are they arguing about?' I asked my friend.
'John accused Steve of cheating, and in retaliation, Steve challenged him to a dance-off.'

If I kept doing this throughout a book, would people actually try and decipher the language and prove me a fraud? Or if I told everyone I spent 95 years studying linguistics and created this language for my book, would that make the story any better?
If you kept doing this throughout a book, would anyone finish reading it?


This topic is one of those that strikes me as a "write what you know" issue. Authors who would like to demonstrate the interesting parts of bilingual thought processes ought to be bilingual themselves, or study language acquisition. If not - Babel fish.
 

Bramandin

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If you kept doing this throughout a book, would anyone finish reading it?


This topic is one of those that strikes me as a "write what you know" issue. Authors who would like to demonstrate the interesting parts of bilingual thought processes ought to be bilingual themselves, or study language acquisition. If not - Babel fish.

There are times when I want to replace the dialogue with they argued over what to have for breakfast so there's no way I'd waste word-count on a bunch of gibberish. Tamora Pierce had things like mentioning someone was cussing but not actually putting it in before describing reactions. "Can a person really do all that?" "Not all at once." Or X was impressed that he managed to cuss in four different languages.

I figure that I can teach the readers a few words, pepper made-up words that can be worked out from context, and either say that MC didn't understand what they were saying or give the translation.

There was a comic creator whose alien language was readable, but he felt that it was unfair for there to be a different reading experience between those who could translate and those who didn't know that there was a translation. I agree, or else I might do stuff like this: Hᛖ ᚹᛁᛚᛚ ᚲᛟᛗᛖ ᚹᚺᛖᚾ ᛏᚺᛖ ᛗᛟᛟᚾ ᛁᛋ ᚠᚢᛚᛚ ᚨᚾᛞ ᛚᛖᚨᚱᚾ ᛏᛟ ᚲᚨᛚᛚ ᛞᛖᚨᛏᚺ ᚠᚱᛟᛗ ᛏᚺᛖ ᛋᚲᛃ
 

AllanR

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If you don't want to throw in unreadables, find one or two common errors a second language speaker might make when using English.
For example, Hungarians often mix up he/she as they don't have gender in their pronouns. Hungarians also don't have many prepositions and often omit or mix up English ones). Spanish speaker might put phrases in a different order....
 

Bramandin

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If you don't want to throw in unreadables, find one or two common errors a second language speaker might make when using English.
For example, Hungarians often mix up he/she as they don't have gender in their pronouns. Hungarians also don't have many prepositions and often omit or mix up English ones). Spanish speaker might put phrases in a different order....

I just got intimidated.

It would be easy if the grammar is identical between the two languages and words could just be replaced. I found something on tumblr about writing bi-lingual characters and how they pretty much speak english when around english-speakers unless they're saying something private. I think people are pretty used to stuff like "she would have to be out of her bleste mind to suggest it" but generally he'd use the English word if there is a direct translation.

I now have to think of three types of speaking.
  • children of ESL whose primary language is english
  • ESL who speak it well but with an accent
  • people who can barely communicate in english
I'll look up some vids and I need a sensitivity reader anyway. Hopefully any mistakes I make will be easy to edit.
 

sknox

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>Also it seems that my ascii emojis are being translated.
That annoys me. It's why I've gone back to using text. <grin>
 

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