1. Peregrinus
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    Peregrinus Member

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    Bilingual Charactor

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Peregrinus, Apr 16, 2013.

    *character lol won't let me edit typo subject sorry, if a mod could change please :)
    Hi,

    I have a character that speaks two languages. As a simplified example, lets say shes in a room with a representative of each language (neither speaks the others language). She does not need to translate, my difficulty arises with the transition between talking to either representative. Is it necessary to say " she said in english" often or can the reader be expected to catch on? What if there is more than one person representing each language, and she speaks to them in turn? I feel like the way I wrote it is understandable, but the author understanding the authors writing is a bit suspect. Has anyone had success with this?

    Thanks
     
  2. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Is she conversing with all of them? If she is just translating you only need to put the translated text of the conversation and not the original. If she is conversing with the lot of them and that conversation is crucial to the story, then wouldn't that conversation happen in a language they all speak? If the conversation is not crucial, then you don't need to include it at all. You can use one language for everything and differentiate with the context, for example: "Pleased to make your acquaintance", she greeted him. -"Oh, you speak Russian!", replied the Russian businessman ecstatic.
     
  3. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Well, I think one thing that could help you here, using your example, is to use what character she's addressing. For example: say she's talking to John, who speaks English, and Harry, who speaks French. You explain in the beginning that John only speaking English and that Harry only speaks French. Once you've established this, simply stating "She addressed Harry," will be enough to queue the reader to the fact that she's switched to French.
     
  4. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    Is this person the point-of-view character? She would not mentally keep distinguishing between the two languages, but instead would switch naturally - so the switch shouldn't be too blatant to your readers. You just need enough to show the reader what's going on.

    "You'll have to wait here a little longer," Miriam said.
    "Longer? It's been over an hour," said Dmitri.
    "What did he say?" Pierre asked.
    Miriam turned to Frenchman. "I'm not here to interpret for you."
    Pierre slumped back into his chair. "What? You expect me to suddenly speak Russian?"

    That should be plenty to set it up, and then you just need to show who is speaking to whom, as usual.
     
  5. Peregrinus
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    Peregrinus Member

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    Yea that's about how I have it now, Thanks. I really needed confirmation. It makes sense to me, I was worried it wouldn't to a reader.
     

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