1. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    Writing in english when I am not.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by TimHarris, Nov 27, 2012.

    Did anyone get published this way? I am Norwegian, but I like writing in english. I have been reading english books since I was ten, and I consider myself quite adept at both written and spoken english.
    However, I AM better at norwegian than I am at english, there is no denying that.

    So I was wondering. How hard is it to get published when I write in English, when I am from a non-english speaking country myself? Do you have any example of writers who have done just that?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there are many examples of successful foreign authors whose work is published in the uk or us... you can find them with a bit of creative googling... you'll see that writers from all continents have 'made it'...

    as long as your english is good enough to be read comfortably and your stories are marketable, you'll have just as much chance to be published as native-speakers of english... in fact, may possibly have a slight edge over them...

    so write away and don't worry about where your books can be published... that comes much later...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  3. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    If you can express yourself better in Norwegian then, if you want to get published, it may be better to write in Norwegian (most best selling foreign writers have had their works translated from their mother tongue to English).

    However, if you enjoy writing in English - do it!
     
  4. tjemo
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    tjemo New Member

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    I'd say write in English. Since you've been reading in English since 10 years of age you have a whole different mindset and might be way more comfortable writing in English. When you can't figure out how you want to say something in English, think of the phrase in Norwegian and try to translate it in English!
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Go ahead and write in English. You may be better at Norwegian now, but as you write in English, you'll get better and better in English.

    Joseph Conrad became one of the best writers in English - one of the foremost stylists in the language - and English was his third language (after Polish and French), and he didn't learn English until he was an adult. It can be done.
     
  6. nemuyoake
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    nemuyoake New Member

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    You can't make any progress if you don't practice. A true statement for both language learning and writing. Maybe you'll need a skilled editor to help you compensate for your lack (?) of English skills, but the more you write in English the more you'll be able to write freely in this language.
     
  7. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    ...how so ? In that the language of a non-native is simpler ? (that's at least my mindset; keeping my prose simple, even if it sometimes doesn't
    read that way, sad to say)
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    If you feel that your english is really good - then stay writing in English - if you're unsure, write it in Norwegian and have it
    translated. A lot of successful authors have had their work translated.
    But I would just keep working at English though if that's the market you're going for.

    You have a bonus of learning the language by getting the proper meanings
    of words rather than people who 'know' the language yet still stumble
    over their meanings.
     
  9. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    You can always write it in Norvegian and have it translated.
     
  10. adriannajoleigh
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    adriannajoleigh Member

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    Im in Denmark :) and I write english or spanish lol. You can do either. Like the others said, you can always write it in your language and then have it translated. Many books and films do that to sell in other countries ;) Its possible either way. However, English has a bigger variety of readers. :) Just do what you feel is more comfortable. Just make sure you have a good English speaking editor nearby to make sure you have all the grammar down and punctuation. I know that with Danish punctuation the commas , etc, are used in different forms than English. :)
     
  11. kitt.moss
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    kitt.moss New Member

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    If the writing in your post is anything to go by, I'm sure you'll be able to write competently in English. I don't know if you'd be as entirely comfortably in English as in your native tongue, but if you feel confident about trying then you should go ahead and follow that instinct.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry to say, it would be extremely costly to have that done well enough to be submitted to english language publishers... and the money spent would most likely never be recouped...
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Translation is an imperfect process, anyway. Ever her the expression, "lost in translation?" It's not an idle phrase. Nuances are lost in the best of cases, and in some instances a direct translation is completely wrong in context.

    As for any kind of wordplay, forget it. Puns will almost certainly not translate, unless the same word root applies in both languages.

    Translations are almost never as good as the original.
     
  14. Islandwriter
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    Islandwriter Member

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    I am Swedish, and i write in English. I havent lived in Sweden for the last 18 years, i still speak it and write it fluently, but like my friends say "talking to you is like time travell back to the early 90's." The books i read are all in English, and thats the language i feel comfortable writing in.

    I agree, translations are never as good as the original. Sometimes i get hold of books by swedish authors which have been translated to English, and when i read them, they feel strange, and some times i can see why the translater have used X English word, believing its the right one, when it is not.
     
  15. Islandwriter
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    Islandwriter Member

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    I am Swedish, and i write in English. I havent lived in Sweden for the last 18 years, i still speak it and write it fluently, but like my friends say "talking to you is like time travell back to the early 90's." The books i read are all in English, and thats the language i feel comfortable writing in.

    I agree, translations are never as good as the original. Sometimes i get hold of books by swedish authors which have been translated to English, and when i read them, they feel strange, and some times i can see why the translater have used X English word, believing its the right one, when it is not.
     
  16. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    It may give you an advantage to have two sets of vocabulary, which actually would make your writing in each language more dynamic. I've read that people who speak two or more languages have greater aptitudes.

    It also helps that to learn a second language you generally have to learn a lot of grammar rules that native speakers don't always learn.
     
  17. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    I'm glad I don't have to worry about writing in another language. I'm not even close to fluent in anything besides English. And English can be tough enough to write in; there are so many nuances you have to consider.
     
  18. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    I want to thank everyone for their replies. I did some thinking, and decided to keep going with english. That is the language I feel has the bigger potential for telling the stories I want to tell, and also the most useful language by far of the two I know as it's spoken by close to a quarter of the worlds population.
    I often have issues when writing in that my sentences look very simple, and I know I could paint a much better picture using norwegian words, but I just keep practicing, and I'm sure I'll eventually get the hang of it. Meanwhile, I just keep reading english books, and try to pick up new words or new ways of articulating my thoughts into words.

    Thanks for the support :)
     
  19. Khaelmin
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    Khaelmin Active Member

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    Good man. I've had the same dilemma a few months ago and arrived at the same conclusion as you did. Now I write everything in English first, but I translate them in Romanian afterwards. Not all of my friends are that proficient with it. It's extra work, but sometimes, the translation improves the story.
     
  20. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    The point about having an advantage suggests that you might write clean - might write with delicious clarity, yum. Clean, clear english is the summit, I think? Death to adjectives, egc, kill kill:)

    As for translations, thas a whole game in itself. Cogito, hello, mentioned humour failing to translate. Try 'the Good Soldier Czek' (or Sjek) written in the days of Austro Hungarian empire, originally written in Czech. That's very amusing, in English. Patrick O'Brien translated Papillon...?
     
  21. Khaelmin
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    Khaelmin Active Member

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    Agreed, matwolf, about the humour not translating well. But, If you're proficient in both English and the language you're translating to, you could find a funny replacement easily. The story would no longer be exactly the same, but who cares? It's yours.

    One of my translations actually ended up being way funnier than the English original.
     
  22. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Excellent.

    I was only saying I liked those two books, and you're in Bucharest and thas plenty exotic for me - palm trees an all;)

    There's translation and there's translation. Translating a piece of beautiful prose into another language, retaining the sense, character, rhythm, style is as bout as difficult as my tiny mind can...etc...academic pursuit. I bought baudelaire at 2nd hand book shop (sucks cheeks)

    Here we go:

    Sur l'oreiller du mal c'est Satan Trismegiste
    Qui berce longuemont notre esprit enchante

    Umm, didn't get past first page, yetTrismegiste eh? Fantastic.
    Scandinavians; the opinion's a little received, but perceived to have extremely high standard of English comprehension, over and above average englander - education, same for Dutch, and Friesian IS English.
    Although I read some of that swedish director's poetry, translated, Lukas Mooddysson (wish I was called that.)

    This ain't great in English - wonder what it looks like in the original?

    my face is corroded by cancer
    tony blair smiles and kisses anna lindh's cheeks
    there's an ocean of distrust between me and that kiss
    the world is upside down
    the police in göteborg are forced to suspend
    the schengen agreement in order to stop
    those who are coming to sweden to protest
    against among other things precisely the schengen agreement
    goes on and on to the bottom of page
     
  23. Khaelmin
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    Khaelmin Active Member

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    The French poem is kind of nice, although I'm not sure I understood it right. I only did 4 years of very basic French in middle school(way long time ago). On the other hand, Jesus Christ on a monocycle, that last poem is bad! Like, really bad. I see what you meant.

    Palm trees, yeah, right. :D
     
  24. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh it's a huge poem, wasn't going to type out the whole thing. Maybe later, with a whisky...and I'll never come here again - I suppose religion aside, eek...I enjoyed the 'Satan Trimestige,' - example of phrase where there is no direct translation, I tink.
     
  25. Michael Collins
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    Michael Collins Contributing Member

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    I'm Swedish, but I've lived in Italy almost my entire life (sob...). I used to wirte in italian, until I decided to start writing in english, just because I like it. And it's good exercise too.
     

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