Tags:
  1. ISalem

    ISalem Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2020
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    13

    Do you write in the same language you think of?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ISalem, Sep 13, 2020.

    I mean, do you think and write in the same language, or you think in your first language and write in your second language (e.g. English)?
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,490
    Likes Received:
    12,783
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    Wouldn't that be hard? Thinking up lines on one language and then translating into another? I only speak English, so no idea how that would work.
     
  3. JuliaBrune

    JuliaBrune New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2020
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Lyon, France
    I write in both French and English but I always think in the language I'm currently using.

    Even though they're very similar, it always takes a bit of time to switch ! Usually I'll work in one language for a project then switch for the next. In my experience when I switch to French my sentences are too concise, almost dry. When I switch to English I have the opposite issue, I need to retrain myself to be more straightforward.
     
  4. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    23,742
    Likes Received:
    20,539
    Location:
    El Tembloroso Caribe
    I always write in English. I do sometimes think to myself in Spanish, though - my other mother tongue. Certain vagaries of idiomatic English get resolved in my mind in Spanish where the structures in those analogous cases are still quite stalwart, even in idiomatic Spanish. Also, when imagining novel cultures, I often think and sub-vocalize to myself in Spanish. It puts me in a different frame of mind because the culture for which the language is a vehicle, in the case of Spanish, is much more emotionally permissive, with a broader, more subtle emotional vocabulary. It lets me think words into characters' mouths that my English speaking mind would find strange.
     
    Cog71, ISalem, Homer Potvin and 2 others like this.
  5. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    2,430
    Likes Received:
    2,750
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    This.

    When I speak Japanese or Thai, I think in those languages. I'm more fluent in Thai, but I find myself thinking in Japanese when in Japan because many aspects of the language simply don't translate well, and you have to think in the language when speaking it. I can't envisage translating what I've written into either language though (given that I write neither particularly well). Likewise, I don't translate back into English from either language when speaking or reading.

    It's hard to explain, but I would have to think in Japanese to effectively write Japanese. I *can* translate, but it would just sound awkward. You'd have to add all the little elements of the language that don't exist in English, or are different.

    Simple example: "Hai" is generally translated as "yes", but since it means "I agree with what you said", it can also be translated as "No".

    In English, if you're not going to the party, the answer to the question "You're not going to the party?" is "No". In Japanese, it would be "Hai" - in other words, "That is correct, I am not going to the party."

    I had fun when I took a Japanese lady on a date to a Thai restaurant and had to switch between two second languages when the waitress came to the table (talking to my lady friend in Japanese, then turning the to waitress and speaking in Thai). It took me a second or two each time to recalibrate.
     
  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,490
    Likes Received:
    12,783
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    My sushi chef speaks Japanese--which is like his fourth language--and when I hear hin speaking to distributors on the phone, every third word he says is "hai." I asked him about it and he gave me this long dissertation on how it can mean yes or no and how the inflection changes the meaning. Very cool!
     
    Naomasa298 likes this.
  7. Night Herald

    Night Herald Malfunctioning clockwork person Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Messages:
    1,045
    Likes Received:
    1,699
    Location:
    Norway
    I write all (99.6%) of my fiction in English. I mostly think in English. All but a small fraction of my interior monologue seems to happen in that language. Even if I'm speaking Norwegian, I seem to be translating somewhere in the back of my head—perhaps so as to investigate whatever I'm saying or hearing from multiple perspectives. Never hurts to get a second opinion, does it? I don't really pay attention to my thoughts when I'm engaged in conversation (I'm the sloppy, impulsive kind of interlocutor) but that is the impression I get. If I'm speaking Italian, I'm often forced to work from an English (or Norwegian) base for more complex sentences. It all depends, really, but English is my main language across the board. The only realm where Norwegian dominates is everyday speech, of which I don't really do a whole lot.

    That being said, I sometimes employ Norwegian in my writing, mainly if I'm building a culture with some Nordic flair and a language to go with it. When writing from these characters' perspectives, I try to make myself think like a Norwegian—which is an outrageous ambition, I know, but I make valiant efforts.
     
    Wreybies likes this.
  8. Flamenco1

    Flamenco1 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2020
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    12
    I give ESL lessons to spaniards and nothing gives me a greater thrill than when they say something and there was no translation involved :)

    I remember back to when I had my first spanish conversation and I realised that I had thought it and said it in Spanish. A great feeling.

    My only hassle now is when my English friends visit and ask me what was said in Spanish. At times I cannot find the English. I guess this old brain really is getting old :D
     
  9. Whitecrow

    Whitecrow Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2020
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    51
    I think and write in different languages.
    As a result, I am not always able to convey my thoughts correctly.
     
  10. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2018
    Messages:
    972
    Likes Received:
    1,867
    Location:
    Playground of Dorothy and Tinman
    I'm somewhat bilingual and I always think in the language I'm writing in. I even struggle to translate between the languages as I've found grammar, idiom, tone and vocabulary get in the way and I definitely wouldn't be able to think in one language and write in another.

    Despite this, I have family that are professional translators and I'm always amazed at how they can do it, seemingly so effortlessly. So I doubt my experience is a universal truth.
     
    Cog71 likes this.
  11. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    23,742
    Likes Received:
    20,539
    Location:
    El Tembloroso Caribe
    In truth, most people are. I work as an interpreter and translator for the USDOJ. When I am tasked to translate audio recordings (of wildly varied provenance) the product must be as exact as humanly possible. Every false start, broken sentence, re-direct, um, uh, hairpin turn, utter lack of continuity and lost train of thought must be rendered. It's harder than it sounds because the human mind has an awe-inspiring set of filters that take that mess we call human communication and render comprehensible thoughts and sentiments. Unless someone's speech patterns are truly anomalous, we rarely even notice it because we really only engage what comes out the other side of our filters. You have to train yourself to turn that filter off and render the original data first in its raw form and in its original language, then translate it and do your level best to create the exact same mess in Language B that was given in Language A. :)
     
  12. Night Herald

    Night Herald Malfunctioning clockwork person Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Messages:
    1,045
    Likes Received:
    1,699
    Location:
    Norway
    I know. It's just that I hold myself to a higher standard that I consistently fail to meet :D
     
    Wreybies likes this.
  13. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    2,430
    Likes Received:
    2,750
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    One of the things I hate the most is, when reading subtitles, if they don't match what I'm hearing. I watch anime with subtitles, since I'm not fluent enough to pick up everything, especially if the speech is quick, and it creates a massive disconnect in my brain when they don't match.
     
    Wreybies likes this.
  14. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    23,742
    Likes Received:
    20,539
    Location:
    El Tembloroso Caribe
    In particular, when the change feels random.

    If they're toning the language up or down the saucy scale, okay, I get that. Brits can say cunt on TV after the watershed, but in America, the C-word requires a papal dispensation.

    If they're accounting for something that requires enculturated knowledge to understand, I get that too. Idioms and little points of humor often have to be swapped out for their spiritual analogues, because word for word creates nonsense in the target language.

    But too often the change feels immaterial and pointless. So, yeah...
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  15. Flamenco1

    Flamenco1 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2020
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    12
    Possibly another reason the subtitles are different is that it is language prepared for dubbing - as well as all the other reasons Wreybies mentioned.

    Must admit in general I avoid subtitles like the plague. I find I miss the visuals while I read and I rapidly give up. Maybe I'm just a slow reader. Others seem to still enjoy the film with subtitles.

    I do see great value in them for language learning, and then the mismatches can be a great help.
     
  16. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    2,430
    Likes Received:
    2,750
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    At least in anime, subtitles aren't used in dubbing.

    I never, ever watch dubbed anime. I want to hear how the Japanese voice actor did the character, with all the inflections and emotion intact, not how some bad American voice actor did it. It'd be like watching Shakespeare in a foreign language (and I am aware Shakespeare exists in other languages).
     
  17. Cog71

    Cog71 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2020
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1

    They study their tails off for that! Just after getting my BA in French and Italian I decided I would do another year "immediate translation/interpreter" course. I spoke (and speak) both languages really well. After two weeks of the course I was begging to be let go! It was SO HARD. By the time you'd decided what the best way to express what the person has said they've moved WAY on and you've missed out a while chunk.. I know speak Spanish too and have to act as a de facto interpreter quite often. It does get easier. But then nobody really knows if I'm translating correctly in this case!
     
    Mark Burton likes this.
  18. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    2,430
    Likes Received:
    2,750
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    Be weird, put Nynorsk into your work.
     
    Night Herald likes this.
  19. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    2,430
    Likes Received:
    2,750
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    A lot of Japanese humour relies on puns - which just don't work when translated to English. So you're left with two choices really - translate it literally, and rely on the audience understanding that it's a joke, or put in a different joke. If you're subtitling, you can get away with the former, as the audience will pick that up from the laughs in the soundtrack but in dubbing? I have no idea.
     
  20. Lazaares

    Lazaares Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2020
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    302
    Location:
    Europe
    My thoughts are a mix of English, Hungarian and German. Can't help it; I use all three languages actively at my workplace. My mind can switch randomly from one thought to another between them. Strangely, never tried writing in German - I mostly write in English.

    It's not really a translation; I am a more visual person which means my thoughts merely are commentary in one language or another over the same ideas. I can jot down one after the other - though it is true, when I have a thought/idea in German and I write it down in English, my mind usually switches to English for the next couple minutes at least.
     
  21. Night Herald

    Night Herald Malfunctioning clockwork person Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Messages:
    1,045
    Likes Received:
    1,699
    Location:
    Norway
    Never. I'd be using my local dialect instead. It's the way to speak Norwegian. No standardized writing system, either, which makes spellchecking less of a headache.
     
    Naomasa298 likes this.
  22. Inessa

    Inessa New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    3
    I've grown up speaking Russian and Swedish, yet I only write in English. It's most likely due to the fact that the content I consume - books, movies, music, etc - are English, and I cannot really imagine producing content in any other language (aside from the occasional homework assignments).
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice