53 votes

How do I translate into a gendered language where the gender would be a spoiler?

The question is not whether the translator knows the true gender, the question is whether the character doing the speaking knows the gender of the person behind the door. If they don't, using the ...
Bas Stronks's user avatar
45 votes

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

In your example, 白骨精, I'd say the 精 is not so much 'fairy' as it is in 妖精, but rather 'spirit' (like in 精霊), similar to how in English we can use the word 'spirit' to describe a lot of different types ...
s.anne.w's user avatar
  • 965
33 votes

How do I translate into a gendered language where the gender would be a spoiler?

Go with אתה. While not natively Israeli, I am currently living in Israel. And from what I know, speaking the language and seeing what goes on here, when you don't know the gender, it's generally ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 1,159
28 votes

How do I translate into a gendered language where the gender would be a spoiler?

Instead of "How are you?", would it be possible to translate it to "Is everything OK?", "Is anything wrong?", "Is everything alright in there?" instead? Or is that what you meant by "we have no ...
user29959's user avatar
  • 281
24 votes

The use of footnotes to translate foreign words in a novel

When in doubt, do what the masters did. Some examples: Raoden breathed a sigh of relief. "Whoever you are, I'm glad to see you. I was beginning to think everyone in here was either dying or insane....
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
21 votes

How to address family members solely by relationship in dialogue?

You don't try to be accurate, you anglicize it. If you are writing in English about a Korean family, the reader expects you to translate dialogue into understandable English that is not awkward. If ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
20 votes
Accepted

How to handle translation of a language in a comic, while preserving a sense that the language is significant?

This has been handled a few ways in comics: Have the text in word balloons be a translation of the original, with a footnote indicating "translated from other-language-name". You can graphically ...
Goodbye Stack Exchange's user avatar
19 votes

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

The differences between 'fairy', 'elf' 'goblin' and 'demon' are not negligible. The fact that a dictionary offers you all of them, or that all have been used in different setting in the past, does not ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
17 votes

How do I translate into a gendered language where the gender would be a spoiler?

The best translation is often not word-for-word, you need to get across the overall sense of what is being said. This may not always be feasible for instant translators, but you can do better when you'...
Barmar's user avatar
  • 371
17 votes

Can one be a co-translator of a book, if he does not know the language that the book is translated into?

Your student worker sounds like a valuable assistant. But he is not a translator. Even if he were doing actual translation work, a co-translator indicates someone doing work at the same level that ...
Cyn's user avatar
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15 votes
Accepted

What language shall they sing in?

These are songs, and we learn songs differently from spoken language. Have you ever found yourself singing along to a favorite song in a language you don't even speak, but you've listened to the ...
Monica Cellio's user avatar
15 votes

How to use foreign words and provide translations in a novel?

This would really pull the reader into the environment. Would it, though? I'm unconvinced - if anything I can see it having the opposite effect. Having chunks of dialog that the reader (presumably) ...
motosubatsu's user avatar
  • 7,273
14 votes
Accepted

How to address family members solely by relationship in dialogue?

I have experience of a similar situation - not Chinese or Korean, but Indian. I married into a family that has Indian ancestry but now live in the Caribbean and in addition I have a large number of ...
robertcday's user avatar
  • 7,743
13 votes

How to address family members solely by relationship in dialogue?

As someone has said in another answer, accuracy is less important in fiction than story itself. What matters is to convey sufficient meaning to move your story forward, and to do so in a way that will ...
Kramii's user avatar
  • 637
13 votes
Accepted

How does one add puns in another language?

I have recently had to deal with a similar issue in my own writing: modern Hebrew names too have meanings. Common names might mean 'horizon','spring', etc. Actress Gal Gadot's first name means 'wave', ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
12 votes

Historical Fiction: using you and thou

...usage has caused modern speakers (I believe) to see 'thou' as more formal than 'you'. I do not think so. It is not more formal, if anything, it is archaic, or literary, or both, but you definitely ...
Lew's user avatar
  • 3,100
12 votes
Accepted

Naming non-English folklore creatures

I really like the -ar plural, and I think you should keep it regardless. You don't always have to obey the rules of English if your original word isn't. English is rife with loan words from other ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
11 votes

The use of footnotes to translate foreign words in a novel

Footnotes are sometimes a good solution and sometimes a bad one; it depends greatly on the tone you want to set. In fact, I'd say the question you want to answer is why your characters should speak ...
Komi Golov's user avatar
10 votes

How does a novel writer explain the meaning of foreign words without giving the English translation?

In fiction, I much prefer foreign words not to be in italics. Being foreign already makes them stand out, adding italics makes it even more distracting. I also like to use well-known foreign words, ...
SC for reinstatement of Monica's user avatar
9 votes

How do I translate into a gendered language where the gender would be a spoiler?

While my knowledge of hebrew is exactly zero, my native language is also gendered and also uses the male as the "fallback" option. 10+ years ago, using the male would have been the normal and ...
Tom's user avatar
  • 4,494
9 votes

How does one add puns in another language?

Go long! Write about the custom, and the reader will get it. In a recent Writing Challenge here on SE, I had a short Human and Extraterrestrial exchange: Human: Where are you from? ET: Earth. Sorry ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
9 votes

The use of footnotes to translate foreign words in a novel

It All Depends on the POV. I would use ZERO footnotes in a fictional novel. I think it may have been done, but I think it breaks the reader's reverie and immersion in the story. It is bad form. The ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
9 votes

English words in a non-english sci-fi novel

I think it is important to write what your intended readers will easily understand. If you are a native speaker and inclined toward English-sounding words; they are probably inclined to understand ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
9 votes
Accepted

How to use foreign words and provide translations in a novel?

Don't provide translations like that. For single words (or short phrases,) make sure that the reader can understand the foreign words from context. If the character has to have a (short) ...
JRE's user avatar
  • 3,157
8 votes
Accepted

Writing scenes that involve two languages

You're 95% of the way there; you have good instincts for what's readable. • For your first example, I'd try to put as much of the logistics of translation into narration as I could manage. After a bit,...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
8 votes

How can I keep my dialogue nuanced and informal without breaking the illusion that the story is a translation (from a fictional language)?

When writing fantasy or any form of fiction that exists in a world vastly different from ours, try to imagine the text you're writing as a translation. Yes, even for your own main character. Remember ...
Kyle Li's user avatar
  • 1,688
8 votes
Accepted

How can I keep my dialogue nuanced and informal without breaking the illusion that the story is a translation (from a fictional language)?

Basically, you want your choices to call as little attention to themselves as possible. The best way to do that, under the circumstances, is probably just to "dial it back." In other words, write ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k

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