19

I agree that the right-justified text blocks are ugly as heck. I'd recommend italics for non-English and a non-quotation punctuation mark for telepathic dialogue. Mostly it's a matter of deciding what standard looks best for you and making sure the reader understands. As an example, here's what mine looks like: Normal English dialogue - no italics: "What ...


14

Mix and match between all the following methods. Research. If you're going to be using a language extensively, then you'll want to have at least an elementary grasp of the words you'll be using. So learn a smattering of the language; understand the words you've written at least at a surface level; also read as much as you can about idioms, social norms, etc....


12

FWIW, I faced exactly this problem in a novel I wrote a few years ago that included a large amount of both spoken and signed dialogue. Having such a large amount of italicized text was distracting for the reasons discussed in other answers, so my approach was a punctuation convention: "Spoken dialogue goes in normal quotes like this," he said. «But ...


10

Rules? No, not beyond any that your publisher or editor might have. But one factor to consider is that, assuming you're not publishing in a specialized or foreign market, your readers probably won't know how to pronounce the words in a different alphabet -- you can't sound things out if you don't know the pronunciation rules. This means that the words you ...


9

Hmm... Let's see how I can't be of help, shall we? Try this: Read famous works that are translations from source materials in the language you want to add to your manuscript. See if there's a phrase that caught your eye and see what it looks like in the original work. Look up common expressions and idioms in 'the foreign language' from websites that teach ...


8

Spoken Words Given that you are writing in English, and the majority of the time your Orcs are speaking to each other in Orcish (but translated to English for the reader), then the best plan I believe is to treat both spoken Orcish and English the same, like normal dialog, and only convey, if needed, that one or the other is being spoken as relevant to the ...


7

It is possible to use multiple languages even if you actually don't by flagging them in dialogue tags. This is good when who speaks what language(s) is important in the narrative. You can put the inter-language confusion in the dialogue and the speakers' actions. You can also use this to play with mis-translation, either deliberate or incidental. If you ...


6

I would refine the advice thus: Translate the viewpoint character's experience into the language of the reader. That is, if the viewpoint character hears gibberish, you translate the experience of hearing gibberish into the reader's language.


6

Ditto Neil's reply. A lot to be learned from a master of migrancy literature, Salman Rushdie. While The Satanic Verses is written in English, the narration itself, not just the dialogue, utilizes Hindi, Arabic, and Urdu. Jokes within the text rely on the reader's understanding of multiple languages, but the plot doesn't; Saladin Chamcha is called "Spoono" in ...


6

The answer would seem to be to remember the point of view of the narrator. If you are writing from the protagonists point of view, then write it from the language that the protagonist speaks. if (s)he goes into a shop and doesn't understand anything that is said, then say that they had to point at what they wanted etc If later on the protagonist learns the ...


6

Most books set in a foreign country nevertheless give all dialog in the language of the intended audience. That is, if you are writing for, say, an English-speaking audience, you give all dialog in English, even if the story is set in France or on the planet Vulcan. For the obvious reason: if the reader doesn't understand the dialog, the book won't make any ...


6

There are two easy ways to handle this, depending on whether you want the readers to understand what is being said, or not. In truth, whether you want the readers to understand or not is the only important factor. Which characters understand is irrelevant to how you write the dialogue. If the reader isn't supposed to understand what is being said, you'd go: ...


6

Some authors use italics to indicate telepathy. Depending on formatting alone could get lost in publication if they don’t understand why you have justified your text. Consistency is key. If some Orcs are bilingual but no humans are, any Orc speaking to a human would be speaking English. Establish it early on. Perhaps Orcish has sounds that are very ...


5

Yes, it's perhaps borderline possible to publish, but keep in mind that your market will become tangible if it includes people who are intrigued by foreign cultures and interaction between them, but not specifically multilingual, or perhaps multilingual but not necessarily in your specific languages. People are rarely as multilingual as their region. ...


5

Depends on a few factors: 1) Is the narrative's point of view from the person who doesn't understand, the person who does, or omniscient? CJ Cherryh writes books where the humans are the outsiders in non-human societies. Until the human catches up with the non-human language, the human sounds like Cookie Monster. "Me want food! Me went store, but no has ...


5

If it's your first draft, just write it as it comes. You can't edit a blank page. After your first draft, go back through and clean up the polyglossolalia. If you're writing in third person, pick one language and make it all that. (Obviously if your characters speak multiple languages, you can decide what to keep and what to translate.) If you're writing ...


5

In general, it's my opinion that a story should pick a language and stick to it. Even though many people speak multiple languages, having a book in more than one language means you're limiting yourself to a subset of possible readers. Ask yourself: What purpose does it serve to the story and characters to quote them speaking in more than one language? If a ...


5

I am currently reading a book where the majority of characters speak one language (Japanese), but two characters additionally speak a different language (Latin). If a character is speaking in Japanese, it is written in normal English: You are beautiful but when one of the characters wants to talk in Latin (so that no-one else can understand), the author ...


4

I have often wondered the same thing. Recently I read a few books online that incorporate different languages into their stories, usually with dialogue. There are two simple techniques that I learned to solve this issue of having the reader confused with what the character is saying: After the main dialogue in another language, write the translation in ...


4

I prefer the following: "Je ne comprends pas," she said. I don't understand. It's not the only way to do it, as Lauren mentioned, but I find it the most elegant, and least disruptive to the flow of the text.


4

It depends on the style guide you subscribe to. AP Style does not use italics. The Chicago Manual recommends use of italics for isolated words that are likely to be unfamiliar to the reader. If a word will become familiar over the course of the writing, it needs only be italicized the first time. Entire sentences are not italicized. MLA Style recommends ...


4

Provide dialog in the language of your narration and use distorted spelling to indicate the accent of your character (and other poor speakers). You could also use distorted spelling to indicate the way your character mishears the foreign language. — Huts a dime. — Come again? — I asked, trying to make sense of the fluent speech. — What’s the ...


4

So, does the attempt to not italicize for native speakers make sense? Would having it not italicized for native points of view but italicized for non-native be reasonable? I think this is a good rule of thumb. The point of italics is to show the reader that $WORD is unusual for the POV character. So if your POV character, Dave, speaks LangA and LangB, and ...


4

Being Bilingual has very little effect on a person's daily life, for one main reason; the two languages they speak are combined to be similar to speaking just one language. Its similar to the idea of formality vs. informality, you speak to your boss differently than you would speak to a close friend. A bilingual English and Chinese speaker will speak English ...


4

In addition to this answer here: What's the best way to show a foreign language in a manuscript? If you have a lot of swapping back and forth between two specific languages, and the characters are always speaking the same given language in any scene (both French, both German, etc.), then you can just tell us that in the tags: "Guten tag," he said. "...


3

I doubt that there's a definitive answer to this. Different writers have different styles and different things that work for them. Personally, my approach is that for the first draft, I just throw words on paper. Whatever comes to my mind I type into the computer. Once I have a whole bunch of words down, then I go back and clean it up. I rewrite sentences ...


3

One way of approaching this may be to commit to the linguistic styles of your characters and let the story develop a "slang" that you introduce to your readers through annotation provided by the narrator. Exact, literal translation is not as important as conveying meaning. Consider providing frequent, explicit crutches early in the text before settling on ...


3

Foreign languages can add a lot of flavor to a story if used in moderation. Don't put entire dialogues in foreign languages and consider the purpose and function of having those languages there. Foreign languages are very present in the fiction I write. Some of my fiction is about American ex-pats abroad, another work of fiction is set in New York, ...


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