1. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Add translations for other language parts or not

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Francis de Aguilar, Aug 22, 2016.

    I am writing a scene that is taking place in Italy involving two MC's getting arrested. The dialogue is peppered with Italian, mostly when the police officers talk to each other. Should I add translations for the reader? A lot of it is self-evident or explained by the following actions. One of the MC's does speak a little Italian so can (and does at times) explain it to the other who does not.

    If I should add them what is the right way to do it?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    If the conversation can be understood through context, I'd say you don't need to provide any translation.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the story is in first person or third person limited, I'd say definitely don't add the translation--the reader's knowledge in those circumstances shouldn't be any more than the viewpoint character's knowledge.

    And even if it's third person omniscient, I'd argue against it. It will distract the reader with clutter and mechanics, and you want the reader involved in the events of the scene. Even if the meaning weren't self-evident, I'd suggest that you change the scene to make it self-evident. (And, there's really nothing inherently wrong with the reader feeling some puzzlement and suspense.)
     
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  4. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    It is third person omniscient. I am reluctant to add them for all the reasons mentioned. I think it will distract. I thought about using those little numbers and having a glossary but that may be just as bad.
     
  5. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It wouldn't work if the POV character doesn't speak the language, but with omniscient that doesn't seem like it would be a problem.

    If it's an issue with the textual format: Kathy Reichs's novels take place in Canada, and it never felt disruptive to me when she followed French dialogue with English in italics:

    "French sentence," said Character. English translation.
     
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  6. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Anyone want to read the scene, see if it works?
     
  7. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sure :)
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Please remember that the Workshop is the only area for posting excerpts of one's work for critique or for consideration. That area has certain minimum requirements that must be met prior to use that ensure the active and dynamic reciprocity of the process.
     
  9. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Sure okay. Sorry.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
  10. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Why do you need the Italian? Wouldn't it be easier to write the conversation in English and then just say that they were talking in Italian? I've seen writers use a word or phrase, but no one wants to read a whole conversation they can't understand.
     
  11. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    It is a word or a phrase, not whole conversations.
     
  12. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    I did post the scene, but the mods removed it because I was too new. If you want I can PM it to you.
     
  13. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just a thought, but...

    If it's omniscient, doesn't that mean the narrator is taking the reader inside the minds of all characters? And if that's the case, wouldn't that imply an understanding of all languages? Perhaps this would be a time to summarize after the first few words or even switch to a character who doesn't understand and interpret the scene from the POV while summarizing that character's lack of understanding of what's being said. Maybe even throw in that character's interpretation of body language and tone of voice as they attempt to understand.
     
  14. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    I am posting this extract in a new thread
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016

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