Questions tagged [language]

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

11
votes
7answers
263 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 ...
18
votes
10answers
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" ...
8
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
118 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
103 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
votes
2answers
146 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
votes
1answer
83 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
131 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
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
votes
1answer
89 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
54 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 ...
17
votes
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
votes
1answer
49 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 ...
22
votes
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
votes
10answers
8k 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
votes
2answers
85 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
votes
1answer
61 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
votes
1answer
70 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
192 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
90 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
votes
3answers
104 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
votes
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
votes
1answer
100 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 ...
11
votes
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 ...
4
votes
7answers
178 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
126 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 ...
28
votes
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, ...
12
votes
4answers
413 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 ...
-1
votes
3answers
197 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
237 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 ...
9
votes
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: ...
8
votes
3answers
125 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 ...
76
votes
9answers
14k 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
132 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
votes
4answers
250 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
148 views

Noble styles and forms of address

Style is a manner of address, an honorific that comes with a noble title. For example, HM Elizabeth II is addressed "Your Majesty". In a fantasy setting that does not pretend to be Europe, I have ...
1
vote
5answers
117 views

Using the grammatically correct way or the casual way to express the same idea in another language?

In casual conversation, it is perfectly fine to end a sentence with a preposition. How many job applications did you apply to? The grammatically correct way is supposed to be: To how many job ...
0
votes
5answers
496 views

How do i properly name a fictional species and describe it?

I'm currently developing a fictional species set in a fantasy world, and I want to name it, but I don't want it to sound too... scientific? For example, our scientific name is Homo sapiens, but we don'...
4
votes
3answers
810 views

How to write a character speaking in broken english? [duplicate]

I found a slightly similar question from 2014 on here but a lot of the answers weren't helpful in my case (as they brought up points of the internet and such) so I'm going to try here... In my ...
7
votes
7answers
535 views

How does an author write in hand gestures and non-verbal communication?

Writing in hand gestures and non-verbal communication is kind of tricky. They are deeply cultural symbols, interpreted by a specific group of people. To outsiders, they seem like nonsense. But non-...
2
votes
2answers
131 views

How to use professional jargon when writing fiction?

The military, the medical professions, police, etc. - they have their professional jargon. One noteworthy characteristic of this jargon is the extensive use of abbreviations. Those abbreviations are ...
4
votes
3answers
186 views

How to interpret a language from a non-speaker's perspective?

I want to create a believable conversation between a character who speaks Mandarin and English and a character who speaks English but does not speak Mandarin. Basically, the Mandarin speaker is ...
0
votes
2answers
125 views

Proper handling of “sophisticated” English usage

Good day everyone! I am currently writing my first fan-fiction. Here are some basic traits of one of my characters. He usually talks in normal English with a small infusion of 'moi' and 'thou/thee'....
5
votes
3answers
216 views

How to indicate that the source language is gender-neutral?

The source language in question is Standard Chinese. It is a gender-neutral language. One big thing that English speakers complain about English is the gendered pronoun, namely the third person ...
19
votes
7answers
6k views

How to describe a mythological creature that English has no vocabulary for?

The term is 妖精, which can be translated into English as "fairy", "elf", "goblin". As noted, the Japanese literature uses 妖精 to describe the European fairy. The English translation of 白骨精 in 西游记 (...
8
votes
2answers
288 views

How do I indicate that my character is speaking a different language than the one used for narration?

The main character I have in mind for a story in a fantasy setting will be in foreign lands for the entirety of the book. She will have a basic grasp of the spoken language, so her dialogue will use ...
12
votes
8answers
2k views

Colours of ultraviolet

I need to write something from the perspective of a character who sees colours differently from humans, and in particular can see multiple shades of ultraviolet. This isn't unique, their entire ...
7
votes
5answers
283 views

Foreign language dialogue in Middle Grade fiction

I have written the first draft of a Middle Grade detective adventure in the vein of Enid Blyton's Famous Five or Astrid Lindgren's Bill Bergson. In my novel, the protagonist, a boy from England, is on ...
16
votes
7answers
3k views

Are there any general rules or guidelines for using newly coined word(s) or neologism?

Recently, I came across one beautiful word 'Wynorrific', defined on Urban dictionary: Something being both beautiful and terrible at the same time. [The word "awesome" has lost its meaning on ...
9
votes
1answer
158 views

Writing a short story set in a place I’ve never been

I’m writing a science fiction type short story set in Germany (actually Stuttgart). To some extent the location isn’t that important- it could be set anywhere but setting it there appeals to me and ...