Questions tagged [multilingual]

Questions about pieces of writing that have more than one language in them, prominently.

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8 votes
4 answers
3k views

Interspersing German in English dialogue?

My situation is this: in the dialogue I’m writing, the characters speak primarily English but occasionally use a German word for lack of a proper English equivalent. German capitalizes all nouns ...
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  • 143
2 votes
4 answers
233 views

How should I include foreign language into my story if the main character/s is/are multilingual

I am writing a story in English and my main character is bilingual and of a different culture. The characters and narrator uses common words in the familiar language (e.g. Spanish). Do I need to ...
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18 votes
7 answers
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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  • 1,341
1 vote
1 answer
558 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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  • 4,039
4 votes
3 answers
160 views

How do I handle English speaking where the language used isn't English but is translated in it? [duplicate]

I'm kind of having trouble with portraying one of my main character's English speaking foreign friend. My character and the country he is in don't really use English as the language they communicate ...
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6 votes
2 answers
225 views

How do I include translations without ruining the flow of the text?

A character speaks two languages throughout the whole plot. How to insert the translation of the other language without ruining the layout of the story or text? For example: "Guten tag, Herr X," ...
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4 votes
5 answers
491 views

If somone is bilingual how does it affect their daily life?

I am bilingual myself but I don't think it affects me in any way. But I think that's because I am not in a position to speak the language on a day to day basis. But the character has to travel ...
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5 votes
2 answers
238 views

Formatting multiple languages while avoiding italics for native speakers in their POV

Looking at this question, I was trying to figure out how to format a small family of novels and short stories that use a number of languages. My original approach went with the above question's style. ...
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  • 340
4 votes
3 answers
370 views

Scenes with different languages spoken after translation

So... imagine you have a story in your native language written down, with protagonists that speak this language and no problem at all, except a bunch of scenes where your protagonist meets someone who ...
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3 votes
2 answers
229 views

Is Polari too familiar and recently used to "steal" for a cant in a fantasy setting?

I am writing a fantasy novel and I wanted a few of the characters who speak a secret language. I didn't want to create an entire language from scratch. So I started looking for real secret languages ...
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  • 940
3 votes
1 answer
646 views

Show the translation of foreign language thoughts in a manuscript?

Background Part of an English story takes place in rural South America, where Spanish is the native tongue. Problem A Spanish character thinks to himself. In English (i.e., in the story's native ...
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2 votes
3 answers
798 views

Naming a book in a language different from where it would be published: is it good?

The book is being written in Portuguese, would it be bad if the name is in English? The name is just "The Awakening". I prefer the title in English because it sounds better than in Portuguese ("O ...
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  • 4,599
19 votes
6 answers
8k views

How to deal with a story that 95% of it takes place in a different language country and the protagonist speaks in it?

The protagonist is from a certain country, and in some point of the story he moves to another one that speaks another language. The protagonist learns their language and talks with them in it. ...
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  • 4,599
5 votes
3 answers
225 views

How to write when thinking in multiple languages?

When writing, scenes come to my mind in different languages mixed together. For example in a single scene a description will be in French, some dialogues in English, with a few words of Spanish and ...
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4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Using a foreign language that uses a different written alphabet

What is the best way to incorporate a different language that uses another alphabet into a fiction manuscript? I am trying to use Russian in an English manuscript, but I don't know if I should use the ...
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  • 979
5 votes
5 answers
1k views

Will publishers accept bilingual or multilingual works?

Let's say an author is fluent in three different languages. And now, let's say this author wants to create a trilingual story. The narration may be done in English, but the dialogue may be done in all ...
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  • 2,512
4 votes
4 answers
769 views

How to convey that the POV character *does not understand* what's said in dialogue?

The general advice is often to focus on the content of what's said in dialogue and just write it in the reader's language, largely whether the characters would use that language or not in-universe. ...
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  • 3,734
20 votes
3 answers
2k views

How do authors incorporate languages they don't speak?

In many, many English-language novels I've come across characters who speak other languages, most often French for whatever reason. In many cases, such as with Ulysses and Lolita, this is a simple ...
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3 votes
2 answers
501 views

Which language to use when writing a multinational story

I'm Brazilian and I'm writing a book in portuguese. However the story takes place first in Europe, i.e. Italy, Portugal, and London. Of course this requires of me some research about the culture of ...
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11 votes
5 answers
2k views

How does one present spoken dialogue as a secondary language to signed speech?

I was starting to leave a comment on this excellent question when I realized I had come up with a second question which was equally intriguing. If you're writing a story where 95% of the ...
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5 votes
3 answers
2k views

Italicizing and adding accents to Spanish words in an English novel

In my current novel I have a few characters who speak Spanish. The book takes place along the Texico border, so it happens frequently. I know that in more foreign Spanish, or when someone speaks a ...
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27 votes
10 answers
50k views

What's the best way to show a foreign language in a manuscript?

What's the best way to show a character speaking a foreign language in a fiction manuscript? Should the foreign words be italicized and include a translation? Should it just be included in the ...
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