Friday, March 25, 2011

What Tongue are You?




We have recently added 4 more authors to our wagon--welcome! You can visit them to see how they apply languages to their work: 
Anastasia V. Pergakis,  J. D. Brown, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Deirdra Eden-Coppel, M. Pax,  Jeffrey Beesler, Charlene A. Wilson, and Andrew J. Cooper! 


I love to invent words. I have a list of made-up words in my writerly sketch book. My first novel is a high fantasy read using invented words for native creatures. The goblins have their own language, which I didn't translate. Oops.


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Nowadays, I keep a dictionary in a separate file and refer to it as I write the novel.

I keep my words simple, pronouncable. I don't always directly translate what a character says:

"Fermer la porte." Collette shivered.
"Do you mean close the door?"
Collete nodded.

V.

"Fermer la porte," Collete pointed to the door with a shiver.
"You get cold too easy, I swear." John kicked it shut. "You're welcome," he taunted.

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Like in the second example, I drop clues so you won't catch a headache. I do the same with real languages such as my Viking novel and Eros.


 


How do show your character language?




19 comments:

  1. Hmm...this is interesting. I haven't really written a character who needed his/her own language. Ooh, but I do have a teeny gargoyle who grunts and covets Rollos. LOL

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  2. Love the examples here. I do the same, sort of. I don't do whole sentences, but I insert a word or two in my character's tongue and let them figure it out using the context of the rest of the sentence. ;)

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  3. Great post! I use a word or two sprinkled in to just give the readers a taste but I rarely go full sentences, only to stave off confusion or long phrases in a foreign text. It's fun to make up your own and done day I hope to go full out and make up a brand new one!

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  4. Great way to translate. By showing what it means instead of telling them. Thanks! :)

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  5. Hmmm..Elizabeth..very interesting. I would love to learn the language of the goblins from you. :)

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  6. Oh wow!!! I'd love to see your dictionary of made up words - that sounds so amazing!!!!!

    Having absolutely no skills linguistically, I never dared to go that way - so I'm full of admiration for y'all able to invent a language! Wow! Take care
    x

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  7. That's an excellent example, Elizabeth!

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  8. I've not used a language for characters, but in a flash I wrote for class I did mix up grammar to give a character an accent and used his grandson to drop clues and banter back if it was hard to understand.

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  9. I love inventing words, too.

    Your examples are great. I do the same if I use a language other than English.

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  10. I make up stuff like your words make my eye-brains cross.

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  11. I am in the process of editing a book that uses a little Romanian, but it is from the PoV of 2 people who don't understand it, so there are a couple short phrases they catch, and a word that becomes important (a letter signed with the word for 'father' that she only learns the meaning of late in the book). I haven't don't any inventing though, and am terribly impressed by anyone who does (though I recognize the latin behind your door--which I think is smart... people recognize it, even when it isn't exactly some language)

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  12. Salarsen, how cute! That sounds like a character I'd like to read about! :D

    Jenn, that's a great way to lead the reader into learning and not as imposing as the first example! :D

    Ana, I like that, too, it gives the reader a reminder that they aren't speaking English. Great job!

    Charlene, thank you!

    Rachna, it would be so much fun to go back and read that story, it's been YEARS! I wonder if I'd remember what the goblins were meant to say! Oops....

    Jennifer, thank you! But you do have great writerly skills, for sure! <3

    Alex, thank you!

    Chris, wow, that's a great idea. I would love if you wrote a post on that! :D

    Mary, really? How fun is that! I read your post and enjoyed it!

    Shelly--LOL! You made me laugh, but I KNOW exactly what you mean! You're so cute. ;)

    Hart, wow, yes, that's a great way of doing it. I'd be interested in seeing a short clip of your passage! :D

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  13. I love the example! Perfect illustration of "show, don't tell" too.

    I don't have actual sentences in other languages but I do have many made-up words, mainly place names, so translation isn't really the objective.

    I do have one place where my MC ponders the meaning of a phrase. She knows the literal meaning but has to fathom out the real intent when it gets used as an insult against her.

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  14. Botanist, thank you SO much for the wonderful compliment! Showing versus telling has been one of my weaknesses because I was always "tell" kinda gal until the writerly world turned on its axis and changed into this direction. :D

    Your example would be fun to read out on a blog post! ;)

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  15. Being a book translator, you can imagine how I just "loooove" when authors invent languages :) At such occasions sedatives are my best friends :))

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  16. Loved this post, and the showing instead of explaining is brilliant!

    Blessings~

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  17. Dez, that's wonderful! It makes me smile that there are people out there that appreciate wild imagination <3

    Chaos, thank you! ;)

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  18. Hey, Elizabeth, that sounded sooo much like a challenge. Consider it done ... here.

    BTW I know what you mean about the world turning around. I pick up so many successful books off the shelf that would have today's critiquers frothing at the mouth yelling "telling, telling, telling..." :D

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  19. I remember thinking about inhospitable elements with fallible characters mixed up in a whirlwind of mystery and science when I wrote my first story. Adding clues to compliment your own language is a really nice touch.

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