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  1. SilverWolf0101

    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Likes Received:
    New York State

    Character that's Multilingual(Speaks Many Languages)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by SilverWolf0101, Jun 3, 2009.

    I have a character in my story that is a Multilingual. She's a werewolf that can speak nearly all of the human languages, demonic and her native language(werewolf). My problem is, I'm not Multilingual, so I don't know how the grammer and usage of some of these languages are used. Any suggestions? :confused:

    Btw, she is a major tomboy with a bad temper and usually uses the many languages when insulting someone.
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Massachusetts, USA
    If you only know one language yourself, you are unlikely to be convincing in showing multiple languages, for the very reason that you aren't familiar with differences in syntax, and other language elements that tend to differ between languages.
  3. 67Kangaroos

    67Kangaroos Contributing Member

    Oct 6, 2008
    Likes Received:
    hey, we're a multi-lingual group of people, so maybe we can just give you some gramatically correct (or at least natively-used) insults and profanities :D
    i got the japanese and korean bases covered ;) (though my korean might need checking)
    while i don't speak tagalog or hilagaynon yet, my boyfriend does ;) and tons of people on here speak a bunch more languages a lot better than me, so no worries - you got plenty of source for foreign insults
  4. Gallowglass

    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

    May 2, 2009
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    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    I can cover insults in any of the Celtic languages, and the addition of Scots. But Cogito has a point - you have no idea how many people forget the differences in connotations of words between languages, and that is perhaps the most important thing. And literal translations may make no sense to people who have an alternative saying established.
  5. architectus

    architectus Banned

    Aug 19, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Why not write the following? "I kicked the ball," she said in Hindi.

    If you do it that way, you will not have to learn anything.

    The second option is to learn which languages are SVO and SOV languages. I mention these two because they are the most popular. Since Hindi is a SOV language, "I kicked the ball," becomes, "I the ball kicked," which makes no sense, so you have to add some words. "By me the ball was kicked," she said in Hindi.

    The problem with this approach is not everything said in Hindi is SOV. And take Spanish for example, which is a SVO language, and it often places adjectives after nouns.

    If you wish to take that approach it is best to write the novel first, then find out how each sentence is in another language, is literally said in that language.

    Once you have the literal order in English, such as, "I the ball kicked," add words so that it makes sense. "By me the ball was kicked," she said in Hindi.

    You would need to add no words to, "To you I say," because it makes sense.

    Kicked by Mary was the ball. VSO
    Kicked the ball did Mary. VOS
    By Mary the ball was kicked. SOV
    Mary kicked the ball. SVO

    It would be a lot of work, so you might just want to stick with the first option.
  6. London Calling

    London Calling Member

    May 21, 2009
    Likes Received:
    South Africa
    I have the same in my story, but I have a slight advantage, I am multilingual...
    It doesn't help (in my opinion) putting the various languages in the story, simply because how many readers will understand all the languages you are putting in there?

    Think about it, writing translations for the 'languages' you might as well leave it in english and do as Arch suggested...

    Thats just me though...
  7. Rei

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Aug 2, 2008
    Likes Received:
    I've read many books where they are technically speaking several languages, but they only actually write in English unless there are particularly important phrases in the other languages or there is no good English equivalent. All you need to do is make sure the readers know what languages each character speaks and when they are speaking it.

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