1. katina

    katina Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2018
    Messages:
    1,800
    Likes Received:
    769
    Location:
    London

    words other than English/foreign lexicon

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by katina, Jun 14, 2018.

    how often do you use words other than English in stories?
    could you list them here thanks for sharing :)
     
  2. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,764
    Likes Received:
    5,393
    Location:
    Funland
    I don't usually use foreign words unless I need to refer to some object that doesn't have an English equivalent, or if the character doesn't speak English and has forgotten the word, though I've probably done the latter only once.

    I was just re-reading Glen Duncan's I, Lucifer and couldn't help but notice he uses a lot of French words. I don't know if the author thinks Lucifer is slightly French, lol, or if in his mind, it makes him appear cultured. For example instead of saying a couple were sixty-nineing, he wrote "soixante-neufing", which I found a little convoluted, a little pretentious.

    You probably want to use foreign words sparingly, in places where you feel they fit and where they don't confuse the reader. What language(s) were you thinking about using or have used?
     
    katina likes this.
  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    23,826
    Likes Received:
    20,820
    Location:
    El Tembloroso Caribe
    Only when context makes their meaning perfectly clear, or when there is an organic opportunity to explain the word. Other than that, I don't, despite being a polyglot.

    In my current story one character makes use of the word tesha upon striking her opponent in a sparring match with fencing foils. The story isn't in our world, but I wanted a word that invoked the idea of touché without using the actual word. The scene makes it clear that she flings the word in triumph over her opponent. No explanation other than context is given, nor will there be.

    In a later conversation, another person makes use of the words sheré and later sherína, and these are explained. The story concerns people visiting a foreign culture where one of the hosts spots what to him is an obvious same-sex relationship amongst the visitors. Sheré and sherína are the masculine and feminine words for a same-sex partner in the host language. The host culture thinks nothing of such things, though the visitors come from a culture where the typical Western uptightness and taboo nature of such things is in full swing. The host, when asked what that word is he keeps using, and then he explains with the same matter-of-factness as if he were explaining his language's word for table, then has to back-peddle and make it plain that in his culture these are not slurs, just descriptors, because in his culture there is no need for such slurs, its not thought of as negative at all, and how sad to come from a place where one needs to deny who one's partner is, how disrespectful to one's partner, yadda, yadda, culture brokering, yadda, yadda.
     
    Stormburn and katina like this.
  4. katina

    katina Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2018
    Messages:
    1,800
    Likes Received:
    769
    Location:
    London
    How interesting I have not read the book but I think in general there is a tendency more more to use foreign languages such French or Spanish mainly because it is to highlight something butI ma unsure of what it is.

    Yes I was thinking in general of any language. I think the only time I would use a different language different from English say is if the character isn't English, It is to stress that native language is best used when writing because translation is not always ideal when there are various characters from different backgrounds.
    It makes the book more tangible and real and perhaps would encourage readers to read in English because they would anticipate that the language they speak themselves will pop up here there.
    It is just a fun idea :)
     
  5. Krly

    Krly New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    3
    Mixing words of different languages in the dialog can emphasize a character's quirk when speaking, which are common if you're not very fluent yet in the language you're speaking. One obvios use I've seen a lot is when a character uses words like "hello", "thanks", or "bye" in their original language (ie, "Oh, you saved me a seat! Merci!" or "Hola! How have you been, amigo?"). However this uses seem kind of cheap to me, and make the character sound more cartoony. As a non-native English speaker myself, I know that those are the first things you learn how to say, so it's odd to revert to the non-translated words once you become more fluent in the language. A good use, however, would be a colloquialism, or words that have no translation. For example, let's say you have an Argentinian character who speaks English very well, but every other sentence adds the word "Che", which is sort of like "Hey" but very typical of that country, and likes to eat "Dulce de leche", a meal you can't translate to "milk candy" or something because that would make no sense.
     
    KaTrian and katina like this.
  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    1,527
    Among us historical fiction writers, we sometimes use period language words, but again, do it sparingly. I ALWAYS translate a foreign word immediately on first use. "They traveled with a vexillatio detachment of cavalry from Judea to Alexandria." Don't overdo it, it can get tedious.
     
  7. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    1,527
    And only if the word is going to bused more than once!
     
  8. katina

    katina Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2018
    Messages:
    1,800
    Likes Received:
    769
    Location:
    London
    hi there what does
    vexillatio means? Is that Italian?
    I dont understand what you mean by more then once?
     
  9. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    1,527
    Vexillatio is Latin, it means "those of the little flag," a military term meaning a detachment from a legion. I actually used it because it has come to mean "annoyance" (vexillation, to vex someone) in English. I managed to squeeze into a chapter a humorous exchange between two Roman officers, one running a remote security operation around some important ports on the Red Sea with company-sized vexillationes from various legions in the Middle East. The recipient is pointing out that the people they sent were never their best, and the other is remembering how they had gathered together 80 malcontents, malingerers and general ne-er-do-wells, promoted one to centurion and sent them off, hoping they would not see them again. And the recipient had done a good job of turning them into good soldiers, even if somewhat unusual ones. It had to be annoying to a commander to scrape up some of his troops to send off to support someone else, somewhere far away, and to be sure, they probably did NOT send their best.

    I only use a foreign word if I think it will be worth repeating in the story as part of local color. Chinese words were mostly titles: tingwei, weiwei, taiwei, meaning the minister of justice, the minister of guards, the minister of the army. Again giving color to the Romans in China, surrounded by a totally unfamiliar language, and vertical banners shouting expressions in an inscrutable script.
     
    katina likes this.
  10. Cohen

    Cohen Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Leeds
    Hmm, bit of a tricky one for me. I happily use an assortment of varying languages to say hi/bye and other common words. I'll happily say 'excuse-et-moi' or 'scuzi' and whenever someone sneezes I'll instantly say gesundheit. Yet, in all of my writing, I don't think I've given those tendencies to a character because I'm not sure it would come across to the reader as anything but confusing. I like to keep my dialogue as plain english as possible, with character quirks picked up outside dialogue. This isn't for everyone, and I've seen dialogue with weird spelling to highlight a character's accent or stammer (or in Asimov's Foundation there is a fella who can't say his W's/R's, I forget which).
     
    katina likes this.
  11. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2016
    Messages:
    2,521
    Likes Received:
    4,054
    I have a side character, Carmen, in my first novel who is Hispanic and drops the odd Spanish word here and there. She most famously does so with her nickname for one of the MC's, Nate, who she calls "Osito" occasionally. There's also a line spoken by an Italian chef who speaks very little English, but it's quickly translated by another character. In both cases I worked with native speakers to make sure I was using the language appropriately, as I am not bi or multi-lingual.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
    katina likes this.
  12. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2017
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    1,396
    Location:
    Greater London, England
    I read an article by the BBC which noted that when people use expletives they prefer doing so in their native language than a foreign one, so I have taken this into account (not that my Serbian character swears often) but other than that I might have him leafing through a dictionary when it does come up.

    I prefer literally translating a foreign person's idioms to using the language though.
     
    katina likes this.
  13. Krly

    Krly New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    3
    That's true. Also this may be valid for other words or expressions that are more instinctive or reactionary than normal speach. For example, a character that is not english-native may use expressions from their original language in a situation of danger or fear, like when they're calling for help, or when experiencing extreme emotions, like expressing pleasure during sex or cursing when they're very angry.

    Overall, going back to your mother language is more natural when you speak without thinking at all about what you're saying.
     
    katina likes this.
  14. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,764
    Likes Received:
    5,393
    Location:
    Funland
    I don't really do this myself, except I'm fairly sure I've once or twice sworn in my native tongue because it won't offend the English speaking people around me the same way "fuck" would. Probably depends on the speaker, what comes naturally for them. I only really use one swear word in my native tongue while I know people who are much more colorful in their, er, verbal output and I could easily see them use those words instead of their English equivalents even in international company. Having said that, when I wrote a Francophone character, I had her swear in French every now and then.
     
    katina likes this.
  15. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2017
    Messages:
    1,070
    Likes Received:
    1,396
    Location:
    Greater London, England
    Unfortunately I cannot find the article, but it was looking at curse words as a form of stress relief. I think @Krly points out well in extreme cases we may think in our native language and lose our filter, which when you're immersed in a foreign language may not be as apparent in ordinary conversation.
     
  16. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,764
    Likes Received:
    5,393
    Location:
    Funland
    This actually reminded me! I did do another thing with the character I mentioned: her English gets worse when she's upset (stronger accent, grammar mistakes). It happens to me, so I figured it could work. I didn't overdo it, I hope, since the main thing is to keep it understandable.

    Code-switching is also prevalent. Certain words (usually not simple words like 'hello' or 'thanks') and expressions sound "better" in one language, so the speaker's speech becomes a jumble of languages. Probably something to proceed with caution in fiction writing, though.
     
  17. Hublocker

    Hublocker Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2018
    Messages:
    162
    Likes Received:
    127
    I have First Nations characters in my stories so they sometimes use their words when describing something, just the way my non-fictional native friends speak.



    “So how are they treating you in here?” Wolfman asked, looking around the inside of the facility. It was obviously new and carefully maintained. It had that kind of almost too clean odour places like this had, Martin thought. It was not obviously bleached or strongly scented of disinfectant like Lysol or Dettol, but still there was still a cloying smell clinging in the air as if it was trying to cover something up. Almost like extra strong laundry soap.

    “No yusa,” Elsie said. “All white man’s food.” She looked at Martin. “You’d like it. Mashed potatoes. “Then she seemed to have change of attitude. “Mashed everything for me.” She pointed other mouth. “No teeth.” Then she giggled like a little girl, holding her hand up to her mouth.

    “Yusa?” Martin asked.

    “Fish soup,” Wolfman translated. “We all like fish soup in our family. “Make it with hixte’. Fish heads.”

    “Oh,” Martin answered. Not his favourite, he thought to himself.

    *


    “Who are you guys?” He heard a voice suddenly from behind them. Him and Wolfman turned to see a tall blond man about 40 years old towering over them. Despite his blue eyes he had strong First Nations features too. Even in his first few words, Martin recognized the Alert Bay accent as well.

    “Jamie,” Wolfman said, jumping to his feet. “Where did you come from?”

    “Never mind that. You look like a bokwus now. What are you guys doing here? And who’s he?” Jamie asked, indicating Martin with his head but not speaking to him.

    “That’s Martin, we went to school together,” Wolfman said as Martin stood up and extended his had to Jamie, who didn’t reciprocate.

    “We just thought we’d come and see Auntie Elsie,” Wolfman said. “Martin wanted too…”

    “Get the hell out of here. Before I kick you out.”
     
  18. Krly

    Krly New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    3
    I just realized there's yet another form of language mixing that I actually do on a daily basis. Sometimes, when you're bi/multilingual you picture a concept in a word in one language, but are not able to find the proper term or translation to the one you're speaking. So then I end up using words in english even though my mother language is spanish and I am talking with spanish-speakers who don't now a word of english. And when I speak with friends who are also multilingual, our conversations go back an forth between languages, simply because some expressions sound better in one than in the other.
     

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