What language is best to write in?

English, in my opinion, has  become to us what many witters describe as "the common language".  And why not. Anybody can walk into a café in Paris and and with a little Pigeon French, gesturing and a few English words thrown in can order a beverage of their choice and a slice or two of the delicious, patisserie's offerings.

I am a native German, I also speak and write Afrikaans, similar to Dutch and Flemish, but I write exclusively in English because:

I feel that writing in English empowers me. Through a mere sting of words, I can create a scene so vivid in a readers mind the they taste the caustic taste of burned gunpowder in their mouths, feel it rasp in the back of their throats and shiver with anticipation as their beloved character is subjected to tortures and life threatening situations, that we, the writers, describe using nothing but...words.

How would I write this scene in German?

Mary's eyes welled up. The finality of loosing her daughter crashed down onto her  like a condemned building collapsing after the detonation charges ripped apart the buildings support structure, leaving it exposed. Vulnerable. Broken.  

Now the translated German version:

Mary cried. Daughter Gone. Shit happens.

OK, all joking aside. I just feel that I can express myself more descriptively in English. Having spent my formative years (here, perfect example, 'formative years', two words that save many but describe a period of time that is subjective to every reader but forms a 'picture' in the readers mind) Sorry. I will start again. Having spent my formative years in South Africa, I have come to embrace English as my adopted mother tongue. I love how through sentence structure I can control pace. Drawing out long winded sentences that pick up stray and subjective words, like a a bus picks up passengers in rush hour. Or building tension. Using short. Precise words to form sentences that carry punch. Exhilarate. Make you gasp. Wriggle and squirm in your skin as your hands shake and your mouth gaps with a dry tongue in your mouth.

So, why do you write in English?


Re: What language is best to write in?

I prefer writing in English first (if the goal is to have something written in English) but I have to be honest and say that I'm guessing a lot with tone. 

Like.. I think I can write more desriptively in English because that's what I use for work all day. But I'm not actually that familiar with, say, stuff like how crassly a certain slur or swear word might be percieved by a native speaker, or which words might be percieved as childish (for example, I once saw someone get into an argument with a reader because they used the word 'panties' to desribe an adult womans underwear, which was apparently technically correct but slightly weird because it's more reserved for childrens underwear or something like that? Tone is weird). 

I think I do ok anyway as most people I've rp'd with assume I'm a native speaker, just a slightly odd one? Lol. Anyway yeah. Sensitivity readers FTW. But, this tone deafness is both a blessing and a curse. It's actually pretty useful to me, because I write horror and comedy a lot, and they are both genres where it's ok, or even preferable, to be really over the top with tone. I just write metal songs in story form, I guess. If it works, it works. 

But I do like to write in my native tongue sometimes, and just translate. It lets me be more precise with the tone. Normally I just don't care about the tone I use but for certain key scenes, I can't ignore it. It's also nice because directly translating a word means I sometimes get some free poetic description. Like for example, this sentence written in English directly: 

"He stood unyielding"

.. might be this, if directly translated from Swedish: 

"He stood mountain-fast"

Which might be right for that scene/story or it might not, but it's worth considering. If nothing else, because the tone would actually be consistent...  peodead

Re: What language is best to write in?

I really do envy those who can speak, read, and write in multiple languages. I took French back in Elementary and High School and remember how hard it was. Today I can remember a few words and phrases, but certainly couldn't carry on a coherent conversation or write an actual story in French. So I write in English because it's all I know. Seeing how English is perceived in the above posts is fascinating. It'll be a good perspective to have whenever I'm cursing one of English's many weird rules.

Re: What language is best to write in?

I'm a native German speaker as well, except I never spent any relevant amount of time in an English speaking country. My English is pretty good - but I could definitely do better in German. As such, I can't really agree with this:
ooCookieoo Wrote: How would I write this scene in German?

Mary's eyes welled up. The finality of loosing her daughter crashed down onto her  like a condemned building collapsing after the detonation charges ripped apart the buildings support structure, leaving it exposed. Vulnerable. Broken.  

Now the translated German version:

Mary cried. Daughter Gone. Shit happens.
German is a beautiful, complex, lyrical and highly descriptive language. In the end it comes down to what you are comfortable with, and how well you can wield it.

I'm writing my current fiction in English, and I started doing that for several reasons:

1. More readers. Should be self-explanatory.
2. See if I could. Since it's not my native lanaguage, and I usually only use it conversationally, I was curious if I had what it takes to write a decent story in English.
3. Translation. German being my first language, if I write my fiction in English, I can translate it to German fairly easily later on - because I'm more proficient in the language I'm translating to. The other way around would be harder.

I can definitely feel how I'm struggling sometimes, though, and I will switch to writing in German once my current fiction is done.

Re: What language is best to write in?

I write in English because if I tried to write a full story in Spanish my brain would murder me. It'd just be too hard compared to writing in English. When I write I tend to turn my brain off and just let my fingers hit the keys as they wish. If I had to actually think while typing, the process would be much slower and more annoying.
Of course, about a third of my "speaking" in Spanish is just hand gestures and sound effects, so maybe having to actually figure out what the words for things were would help my fluency. I'll try writing a story in Spanish and let you know how it goes...

Re: What language is best to write in?

I’m a native chinese speaker but my chinese is pretty bad compared to the people around me. I tend to write in english as a result, since I find it easier to express myself using english. English has clear cut rules that you can follow, and as long as you get the rules right, your sentence will already be semi decent. Yet for chinese, you can flip the order of the words, or remove the subject, or use double negatives, and it can come out either great or terrible depending on your execution. Chinese is a really concise language, where you can write a sentence using two characters. But it’s also a language that’s really difficult to write eloquently in since there’s so many nuances to every character that you can’t always find in the dictionary. Yet when you do manage to do it right, it flows like poetry. That’s also partially why I don’t write in Chinese aside from my lack of proficiency: the bar is way too high when it comes to writing it well.

Re: What language is best to write in?

In order of statistics, the best language to write in theoretically. Would be Mandarin Chinese, then it would be Spanish, and then English. Also, fun fact. If you are in the U.S, it does not have an official language. In all actuality, it simply depends on the platform you are on. Given that English is one of the top 3 languages spoken, it is not unusual to go to it. At the same time, if you write in Spanish. You’d find a site that Spanish users would go to. Same with Mandarin Chinese, on Royal Road. Most stories are in English, so you would be advised to write in English. 

Re: What language is best to write in?

Write in the languages of your readers.  Write in a language that you know well.  The world doesn't need more stories with bad grammar and poor word choices.

I'm trying to learn Spanish, so more Spanish stories is something I would like.  However if you write Spanish like I write English learning from you will teach me the wrong thing. 

RR being mostly English your stories in anything else won't get much attention.  However don't let that discourage you.  You may never hit trending or number one most popular, but there are other measures.  That almost nobody is writing in your language means you are automatically best, or at least top 5.