Re: Representing languages in the story.

#1
So, my second story here on RR makes use of real world languages and has language barriers as part of the story. I have a few general questions I want to throw out there in regards to that.

1. Do people mind 'reading' languages besides English under the pretense they will not understand what is being said by verbal cues alone? Something like. "So etwas, aber nicht das," Hans chuckled a little in a self deprecating way and pointed to the charcoal sketch he had just made on the wall.


2. If you do mind it, how do you prefer the verbal components are expressed? I have made just a couple of examples that wouldn't be terribly problematic to implement.

Example 1 - Translation after the paragraph.
"Du bist ziemlich dürr," Aela snorted in amusement, feigning weakness in her arms and letting her pollaxe drag along the ground, "Wie kommt man morgens überhaupt aus dem Bett?" She sighed and shook her head.
<You are pretty scrawny,> <How do you even get out of bed in the morning?>

Example 2 - Translation represented in Bold and possibly an alternate font.
"You are pretty scrawny," Aela snorted in amusement, feigning weakness in her arms and letting her pollaxe drag along the ground, "How do you even get out of bed in the morning?" She sighed and shook her head.


So what do people think?

Re: Representing languages in the story.

#2
I can't say I encounter this that frequently. If things are spoken in a language that the POV is character is not meant to understand, then I think have it in the other language is fine as the reader is sharing in the confusion of the character. If however, the character understands what is being spoken, then I've used two different techniques. One is what you did with bold but in italics instead. And the other is providing a rough translation in the text without the formalities you've provided. For example:

"Du bist ziemlich dürr," Aela snorted in amusement as she called [him/her/them] scrawny, feigning weakness in her arms and letting her pollaxe drag along the ground, and questioned how [he/she/they] would even get out of bed in the morning: "Wie kommt man morgens überhaupt aus dem Bett?" She sighed and shook her head.

Re: Representing languages in the story.

#4

MichaelSilverV Wrote: "Du bist ziemlich dürr," Aela snorted in amusement as she called [him/her/them] scrawny, feigning weakness in her arms and letting her pollaxe drag along the ground, and questioned how [he/she/they] would even get out of bed in the morning: "Wie kommt man morgens überhaupt aus dem Bett?" She sighed and shook her head.

This, with a bit of fine-tuning, is actually the best way to do it. If you have patches in bold directly translating the dialogue in bold, it would be too distracting and ruin the immersion.


Another way to tackle the problem is:

1) Have someone translate what is said to the non-native speaker, and not necessarily a one-to-one translation.

Quote:"Du bist ziemlich dürr," Aela snorted .
"What did she say?"
"That you look like a twig."


2) The non-native speaker can try interpreting what is said.


Quote:"Du bist ziemlich dürr," Aela snorted and pointed at his arms with a grin. Was she calling him scrawny?


Re: Representing languages in the story.

#5
Hehe, yeah that actually happens a fair bit in my story. Either deliberately, because they are withholding information from someone, or incidentally, because they aren't that invested in the conversation or knowledgeable on the subject. 

Then you also have mistranslations as the characters are actively learning to communicate. Similar sounding words being misused or even misspoken outright.

Re: Representing languages in the story.

#6
I normally advise against it. It throws people off, and you never want to deliberately throw your reader out of the story. 

An exception is how you use language barriers in Ogre Tyrant, where the whole point is that Tim doesn't understand what they're saying. You splash up some asterisks to make the point, and then continue. Here, it sounds like you're making it a central theme. 

Another exception I've seen work (primarily in graphic novels) is where you have several lines of foreign speech but with a few English terms, typically proper nouns that don't translate in the first place, that let the reader figure out what they're talking about. 

Re: Representing languages in the story.

#7
It can be annoying when they say something in a different language and repeat it in English. Like...why didn't they just say it in English in the first place? Clearly, both speakers understand each other. So the translation is redundant.

But there are cases where it serves the plot. Steaming City of the Holy Inquisition does this by actually having some of the dialogue in a foreign language. The English translation is in spoiler tags, acting like subtitles in a movie. The characters deliberately speak this foreign language for stealth purposes, but the subtitles are there so the reader can still follow the plot and not get frustrated.

Re: Representing languages in the story.

#8

NovelNinja Wrote: I normally advise against it. It throws people off, and you never want to deliberately throw your reader out of the story. 

An exception is how you use language barriers in Ogre Tyrant, where the whole point is that Tim doesn't understand what they're saying. You splash up some asterisks to make the point, and then continue. Here, it sounds like you're making it a central theme. 

Another exception I've seen work (primarily in graphic novels) is where you have several lines of foreign speech but with a few English terms, typically proper nouns that don't translate in the first place, that let the reader figure out what they're talking about.


I generally agree. That's why it gets phased out rather quickly. It mostly serves to establish a very important plot point for later. The use of actual languages is deliberate. The whole Isekai tag and element in the synopsis makes it less of a blindside than it otherwise would have been, but I still think it is important enough to warrant it.
However, this is 'quick' by my standards, so... DrakanSweat

Re: Representing languages in the story.

#9

meteoraguy Wrote: It can be annoying when they say something in a different language and repeat it in English. Like...why didn't they just say it in English in the first place? Clearly, both speakers understand each other. So the translation is redundant.


Yeah, that's why I avoid 1:1 translations of anything more than a few syllables. Becomes too much like empty filler and isn't something most real people would do, unless it is their job.