1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    How should I set this up?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, May 29, 2011.

    Suppose you're writing from a perspective of a Spanish speaking person who doesn't know English. He meets a bunch of English speakers and he doesn't know what they're saying until one of them talks to him in Spanish.

    Thing is, I'm writing it all out in English, so would it be confusing for the readers if, even if I made it clear he only spoke Spanish, I had him seemingly talk in perfect English while he explains he can't understand the English speaking people?

    Then, when one of the English speaking people start talking in Spanish-

    Oi, now I'm confusing myself.

    But you know what I'm saying, right?

    So, how should I set it up so that it's not so confusing? Set the perspective from one of the English speakers? Have him know a smattering of English?
     
  2. JeffD
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    JeffD Member

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    2nd person POV of his english speaking friend.

    Write out the spanish speakers thoughts in actual spanish, then have paraphrased translations. Rest of the story in english.

    That's all I can think of for now. Is that any help?
     
  3. cretinhop
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    cretinhop Member

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    I agree. For the first time, when he's experiencing a new language, I think I would enjoy to read his POV in Spanish with, um, footnotes, or something to the like. Or, even better, simply without. You could have the English-speaking going on plainly and keep it sort of dialogue-heavy, and have his thought process sort of slacken.

    However, a transition back into English may seem awkward if sufficient time doesn't pass for him to have coherent English thoughts. Is the Spanish person the MC? Perhaps with more information, it would be easier to help you. You know, will this be in the beginning? It would be easier than to transition in the middle.

    You could also write it in a hindsight sort of way. If it's not present, then his knowing and thinking English would make sense. Like, he's recalling the first time he's experienced English. You could even still keep it in Spanish, and the transition would be more sensible after.
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That's what I'm planning, somewhat. The Spanish speaker (who now speaks English) is recalling back to a time when he first met these English speakers.
     
  5. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wait... if the story is told as the Spanish-speaker's recollections, it's all from his PoV. This leads to problems, since he doesn't know what the other people said in English.

    I don't think there's any simple way to get around this... you could write from someone else's PoV, but then it can't be the Spanish-speaker's recollections. You could also write something like "Eduardo would later find out that what John had said to him was...". You could also just let everything said in English be gibberish to the Spanish-speaker (and to the reader), and make it clear from context what's going on in the scene.
     
  6. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the most effective solution to your problem is not to write the English speaker's dialogue: if your character doesn't understand it then by not telling us what they're saying you are re-creating that confusion for the reader too.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Particularly if you're in a pretty close POV, because if you do go ahead and give all the English dialogue that he doesn't understand, then you are necessarily going to have to pull back out of his POV for it to make sense.
     

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