Questions tagged [language]

Incorporating foreign languages, slang, dialect, and so on into a work.

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52 views

Is there a way to generate a list of the most used connector words and phrase?

I need to learn Spanish and German for my short novel and I need to learn the language fast. One thing I wanted to do is to learn the 100 most used connector words and learn to write short and simple ...
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1answer
92 views

Foreign names with complex pronunciations in an English translation

I couldn't find an answer from the SE archives, so here goes. I'm doing a rough translation of a published novel of mine into English (from a Nordic language), and I'm left scratching my head about ...
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1answer
53 views

Using different times for different narrative purposes

I'm writing a biography. And I want it to be written in English, although I'm not a native speaker. Can I use different times to highlight different narratives, like this: Present - for describing ...
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2answers
99 views

Awkward language translation

So I’m currently writing a book that takes place in Finland, though I am American and speak English. My main character’s name can be used as a play on words, and people use it to mock him throughout ...
3
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2answers
68 views

Switching languages within dialogue [duplicate]

I'm writing a story which requires frequent switching between languages, sometimes in the same sentence. I thought about writing the foreign language in italics, but the problem is that I already use ...
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4answers
2k views

Should I stick with American terminology in my English set young adult book?

I am writing a book that is set in England, but because I would get the book published in America I don't know what terminology to use. My main character is in the equivalent of 7th grade but in ...
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4answers
168 views

How do we distinguish how a character pronounces a word and how it is spelled in a dialogue?

How do we distinguish how a character pronounces a word and how it is spelled in a dialogue? For example, some people pronounce words in a different way than they should, how do you show that in a ...
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2answers
112 views

How to deal with foreign language in dialogue?

I'm writing a story about a little girl who got bit by an unknown snake species and is being treated for it. Out of the 3 snakebite victims, this little girl seems to have the best prognosis. Here is ...
11
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2answers
2k views

How to describe accents?

India has a diverse range of languages and accents. Moreover, people from different parts of the country have different accents of speaking the same language as well. For example, a person from ...
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9answers
4k views

A torrent of foreign terms

I am writing a short story, about a particular field with multiple specific terms, none of which are in English. (Specifically, I'm writing about bullfighting, but the question could apply to other ...
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4answers
157 views

In which language does the Russian mafiosi speak in my English novel?

In my novel, the MC goes to a Russian mafia in Moscow. Now before the MC character introduces herself as an English speaking person, will the Russian character start the conversation in Russian or as ...
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1answer
143 views

How do I compensate for lack of knowledge about foreign accents and takling styles?

In my novel, Matt goes to the club in Moscow and starts walking towards a Russian mafia. I have written the following line; Christoff was sitting in the club balcony with his acquaintances. As ...
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2answers
5k views

How should I quote American English speakers in a British English essay?

I am working on a formal essay where I have to quote a few American English speakers, but my essay is written in British English. Should I change terms like color to colour?
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4answers
305 views

What language to write in for a beginner wanting to write fiction?

So far, all of the fiction I've written in my life has been short stories given as writing tasks in school. However, I've always enjoyed reading/watching/experiencing fiction and for the last few ...
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6answers
252 views

Can I use spoken English at some places over 'technically accurate English' in a general fiction?

I have written my novel as a 'first person singular' and in past tense. There are lot of times in it where I have written it as I will say it while speaking. I have used phrases which have implied ...
11
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7answers
340 views

Too eloquent characters

Here's a critique I've received more than once: "your character talks like a character from a book. He's too eloquent, nobody really talks like that, unless they grew up in a library." Now, to some ...
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9answers
5k views

Can non-English-speaking characters use wordplay specific to English?

Would it be jarring if in an original (non-translated) story, the characters, who don't speak English in-universe, use "untranslatable" wordplay/puns that are specific to English? By "untranslatable" ...
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2answers
2k views

Writing slurred speech

One of my characters gets drunk and accidentally kills another. He has a couple of lines where he needs to sound obnoxiously, falling-down drunk. Is there a good way to accomplish this? What sounds ...
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1answer
135 views

Foreign words break spellchecking

I am writing a text with a lot of foreign words, and MS Word complained that there were too many ‘errors’ and stopped checking spelling. Is there a way to force spellchecking? (Short of creating a ...
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1answer
133 views

How can you make up a convincing dialect?

I often need to introduce one, if not several, made up dialects. We're talking about fictional worldbuilding: so any real world dialect is ruled out. They can be used as a source of inspiration, but ...
5
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2answers
166 views

Would using Real alphabets on fantasy maps/emblems make any sense?

I'm trying to make flags for all my fictional countries. On some of these flags, it makes a great deal of sense to use a crest, similar to the real flags of Andorra and Spain. A lot of these crests ...
8
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1answer
99 views

Character Accents

When writing dialogue how should one tackle accents? Changing the spelling for certain words (V for W in German) is effective but may come off a little cheesy. Then again, not doing this might cause ...
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4answers
156 views

How to write Arabic in dialogue for an English piece?

I have a character who is a Syrian refugee to Canada. His first language is Arabic, but he's lived in Canada long enough that he's learned English and uses this as his primary spoken language. On ...
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6answers
1k views

English words in a non-english sci-fi novel

In the modern world, english is a well-estabilished technical and scientific language. Some terms have become so commonly used that they are accepted in my native tongue (words like "computer", "PC", "...
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1answer
95 views

Translation of a Translation

I'm working on my undergraduate thesis in German Studies (I'm in the US), and the paper is written in German using MLA. There's a quote that I would like to use that was originally in German, but I am ...
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1answer
55 views

What punctuation would you invent to solve your issues? [closed]

What punctuation is missing from English that might solve your writing issues? People may be able to come up with established ones that meet your criteria, such as the /s to indicate "that last ...
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7answers
2k views

Indicating multiple different modes of speech (fantasy language or telepathy)

All the viewpoint characters in my story are orcs and speak Orcish as their native tongue, but some are bilingual: they use English to talk to humans. Additionally, the main character has a magic ...
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1answer
56 views

When does a phrase change from “quote” to “expression coined by”?

"The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry" comes from Robert Burns's To a Mouse. It is a commonly used expression, though the "mice and men" part is often omitted nowadays. In fact, not every ...
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5answers
3k views

How to write cleanly even if my character uses expletive language?

I'm writing a story that I'd like younger readers to pick up. I and they know and understand that some situations are far better expressed with one f-word than a thousand milder ones. I'm keeping my ...
34
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10answers
9k views

My story is written in English, but is set in my home country. What language should I use for the dialogue?

I'm an amateur writer from the Philippines. I am writing a novelette for an international writing contest. My story is written in English, but is set here, in my country, with my POV character being ...
4
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2answers
93 views

Dialect resources for early/mid 20th Century Midwestern American speech

I'm setting the book I'm writing in the 1900s ~ 1950s, in the central states of the US: Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. I'm having difficulty getting the language for narration and dialogue ...
2
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1answer
68 views

Do we need to make consistent use of archaic English in our poem/novel?

If you use an old expression like "by a many", do you need to make it consistent and use old expressions throughout the poem, or is it ok to just use it in one verse or sentence? “The spring is ...
3
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1answer
76 views

Showing the transition of language comprehension change

This is a followup question to What language shall they sing in? I'm writing a middle-grade novel in English with time-traveling kids from 1995 America who go to Ancient Egypt to join the Exodus. My ...
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3answers
259 views

Do British publishers change US English spelling to British English spelling?

I have read the Red Rising trilogy as paperbacks published by Del Rey, a US publisher. (I bought these books while in the US.) Now being based in Europe, I want to starting buying the follow-up ...
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2answers
118 views

Should I include an appendix to reference words of an in-universe language for a fantasy novel?

Context I am currently working on a fantasy novel in which one of the main characters is a nobleman and scholar, studying exotic languages as part of his higher education and translating documents ...
3
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3answers
119 views

Always sounding idiomatic as a non-native English speaker

A lot of people use Google's n-gram to see if something is idiomatic, but for a lot of non-native English speakers even that doesn't really help, so what would you suggest non-native speakers to do so ...
12
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7answers
3k views

What language shall they sing in?

I'm writing a middle-grade novel in English. I have time-traveling kids from 1995 America who go to Ancient Egypt to join the Exodus. None of the kids speak anything but English (aside from a few ...
7
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1answer
106 views

The English language, if England had a dictatorship

European dictatorships left a profound cultural footprint in the local culture, to the point that a certain vocabulary, a certain manner of writing, and even a certain manner of speaking is evocative ...
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6answers
2k views

Writing dialogues for characters whose first language is not English

I am seriously wondering how to go about writing dialogues for characters whose native language isn't English and who aren't very fluent in English. It's very hard, because people have different ...
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7answers
242 views

Showing friendship between people of different ranks - maintain formality, or drop it?

There is a prince. (Or some other person of high rank.) And there is that prince's good friend, who, naturally, holds a somewhat lower rank. There are two ways I could show the close relationship ...
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1answer
272 views

Characters speaking different languages

Let's suppose you can only write in English, and characters speak 2 different languages. How do you put it into writing. Consider 3 different situations: Person A speaks in language B, Person B ...
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7answers
9k views

Is it ok to use “aluminium” in an otherwise American English text?

I am not an American English native (I'm actually a German native speaker) but, when I write, I use the American style of words predominantly. However, I always use aluminium instead of aluminum, ...
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4answers
513 views

British / American language mishmash

English is not my mother tongue. I am completely fluent in English though, and I write my fiction in English. Here's the problem: I live in neither the UK nor the US (nor any other English-speaking ...
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3answers
205 views

Is the sentence “Love not self - love no one” easily understandable to an English reader?

This question is not about syntactical correctness. I do not care about that. The only thing I care about is to be understood properly. That's why I'm asking it here and not ELL. The meaning of ...
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3answers
401 views

How can I make my character sound Scottish?

Yes, you read the title correctly. It sounds sorta ridiculous, but I'm wondering how I can make my Scottish character in a story of mine sound more Scottish. He's a comedian who can rarely take ...
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8answers
3k views

The use of footnotes to translate foreign words in a novel

I'm writing a fantasy novel and one of my characters speaks in English, but sometimes utters single words in an ancient dead language, and I don't want to abusively use that language. For example: ...
7
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3answers
135 views

Different methods of incorporating Korean into English text [duplicate]

I have a Korean character in the novel I'm working on, and it is fairly important to the plot that she has some dialogue in Korean. Korean isn't a language where you can say what you see, if you ...
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9answers
15k views

Using real words from a foreign culture feels like 'Calling a rabbit a “smeerp”'

I'm working on a novel, that's set in pre-Islamic Persia, in the same general way that The Lord of the Rings is set in Britain. (Meaning, it's set in a world all its own, but there's this source of ...
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3answers
196 views

How do I make my characters sound British?

This might sound silly, but I am trying to make one of my characters British and I have a hard time portraying that idea on paper. My novel is set in a fantasy land, nothing like this world and I am ...
7
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4answers
323 views

Coining words - when and how?

Writing an answer to another question, I stumbled upon a quote from The Hobbit: Bilbo rushed along the passage, very angry, and altogether bewildered and bewuthered - this was the most awkward ...