Questions tagged [language]

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

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2answers
63 views

How to have a character speak pidgin without inducing cringes?

The character Lee in Steinbeck's East of Eden is a Chinese-American who speaks in pidgin — until he explains to his boss, in very articulate English, that he does so for reasons of his own. In my Gold ...
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2answers
293 views

How do I keep my character's gender a complete mystery?

At first my protagonist was going to be a female role, until I started having an inclination for male characters and the fact that I am a total BL (“boy’s love”, stories about male homosexual romance) ...
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1answer
31 views

How are the limits of regional vernacularism/slang should be employed in a novel that is true to the area and time?

What's an acceptable amount of non-standard English that can be used to depict the language of a certain area of the South (Louisiana) without turning off readers? My current work in progress has ...
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1answer
69 views

Lack of Creativity with Language

I feel as though my mind is uncreative because I keep coming up with trite words and comparisons. For instance, I if I want to say something is the highest in some quality, I will simply say it is ...
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2answers
141 views

Writing as a non-native speaker

English is not my first language, but as an English student, I'd always like to write in that language... I have many story ideas but my skills are not that good to be a novel writer where I usually ...
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1answer
48 views

Should I write a foreign character's dialogue in their language? [duplicate]

When it comes down to story writing, it's always nice to have variety in characters. Such as a character who speaks Spanish more than English or is bilingual with both languages. But say if the ...
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4answers
2k views

Managing alien languages in Sci-Fi creatively

I’m writing a story where alien races are in constant communication with humans, but I don’t want it to be awkward or have to use language tags like “...he said in x language.” Maybe I could have a ...
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1answer
105 views

Would incorporating a constructed language into my story this way cause confusion later?

This is part of the story I'm working on: “Imikagaw” a feminine voice called out as she put her hand on the back of the man in cape. “Usamiakusta ow ihsataw aw amas Enna “Uoyustih ag imikagaw aw nah ...
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5answers
179 views

How to write a character with an accent

One of my characters is Russian and speaks English as a second language. I know that people with Russian accents tend to leave out words like “the” and “a” because they don’t exist in Russian. My ...
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10answers
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I'm writing a prologue from the POV of a non-English-speaking character. How should I write the dialogue?

Picturing this in movie form would be easy. I would have the character speak their native language in the scene and place subtitles. But I do not have this luxury in writing. It would be weird to ...
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1answer
223 views

Using “her/him” twice in a sentence

I'm an English learner, and I had a question about writing "her" twice in one sentence. For example, what would sound better for formal writing? (This is not an actual sentence that I'm using.) This ...
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4answers
206 views

How do I write dialogue as heard by a POV character who isn't fluent in the language?

So I'm writing a story during the course of which my main, first-person-POV character learns another language, one used heavily in her surrounding. This generally works, but I regularly get stuck on ...
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3answers
77 views

What word would people with outdated technology make up for a plane? [closed]

In my story, my characters live in the wilderness, and they have no modern technology. They do see ruins from the past (from now) but other than that they have no idea how advanced other parts of the ...
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2answers
100 views

Which language to choose: my native language or English? [duplicate]

I want to right screen play, but every time I think about writing, the first question that pops in my head is which one to choose: my native language or English?
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4answers
236 views

Capital lettering in old Italian names

I want to use the name Leonardo da Vinci name for a presentation, but I I can't fit his whole name and would only like to use "da Vinci" My question is...which is more proper, using "Da Vinci" with a ...
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2answers
57 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
113 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
54 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
116 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
81 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
184 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
142 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 ...
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2answers
5k 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
184 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
164 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
334 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
262 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 ...
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7answers
449 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
5k 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
137 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 ...
8
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1answer
183 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
180 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 ...
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1answer
108 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
324 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", "...
3
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1answer
103 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
58 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 ...
3
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1answer
60 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 ...
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10answers
10k 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
166 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 ...
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1answer
74 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
81 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
679 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
145 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 ...

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