I have chosen to show an accented English that is only comprehensible to speakers of the secondary language.
The topic of translated sign language has been beat up and I accept that there is no established convention. The guillemots are commonly recommended as a standard secondary language translational quote, however I am trying to avoid excessive translation since the language is American Sign Language, the novel is English; therefore I prefer to keep the “accent,” which I also do with my French and British characters. In other words, I don’t want to “anglicize” one character’s dialogue while accenting everyone else’s.
The work contains all of the following dialogue forms:
- French spoken language - italics, quotation marks
- Chinese spoken language - italics, quotation marks
- English (main) dialogue - plaintext, quotation marks
- foreign accents / vernacular - plaintext, quotation marks
- ASL visual language - plaintext, unique quotation marks
- (English) Inner dialogue / thought - italics
The convention I chose is given below:
=Thanks!= Delano gestured to the conductor as he stepped down. A tip of his cap was the reply, then with a grating rasp he pulled the lever to shut the doors with a hiss; the bus lurched away. I become so aware of sounds when I am with Del, just trying to imaging going through life without them. I followed him to the corner of the building. =This way.= I nodded.
We walked down Trundle Street to the park boundary behind some apartments. The shadows were long back here, the sun didn’t reach well between the building and the park wall. Lamps lined the back of the buildings, desperately trying to fill in.
=Here.= He pointed me to a gate in a dark section of the wall. Someone had pushed an old rolling trashcan in front of it, and I heard some mice. Obviously Liam did not, so I tapped his shoulder.
=You afraid?= he signed, a mocking smirk beaming from his face.
=Ha ha,= said I, with a dose of my own sarcasm. Sometimes I don’t know if I really offend him when I point out sounds or not. But he’s not easily ruffled. I appreciate that most about Del. There are no hearing people I can speak to as easily as Del.
=How did you find this?=
=I’ve come here for a long time. Told only you. I wander around when bored.=
“A secret opening? And you never told me about this before?” He tipped his head, lifting a repentant eyebrow.
=Now you know!=
Getting through the old disused gate with a little trouble, I carried my thoughts on. “You’re mom must go nuts when she can’t find you.” I spoke as we walked through the woods. “I can barely get away from my mom even with two ears. She’s an absolute hawk over me. I don’t know what I will say to her about being late now, but I’ve gotten to the point that I just can’t care. You know what I mean?”
“I don’t even get to open my own mail, Like I need anyone…” At that point I had been talking over my shoulder without paying attention, and my head ran straight into a large branch. “Ow!”
Del almost dropped to the ground he was laughing so hard, while I dropped to my knees in pain and began rubbing my scalp.
I hope this passage demonstrates my intent to keep the ASL “accent” rather than translating ASL into perfect American English, and also mix lip reading regular English.
Will the equals sign be misunderstood in this application in fiction?
Once more, to be clear: I am not asking what is proper here, but instead, if this is specifically improper due to some conflicting use of that symbol. If equals are used in some other literary context, I am not aware of it. Obviously it can still be used in any math that may pop up (I can’t imagine where), because nested quotes already have multiple contexts. I suspect readers will comprehend an equals sign used in some equation easily enough as well.